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The Asia Foundation Supports Kathmandu Declaration for Free, Fair, and Transparent Elections

January 4, 2024

Program Snapshot

In Nepal, participants of the sixth Asian Electoral Stakeholder Forum (AESFVI) affirmed their commitment to strengthening democratic processes by signing the “Kathmandu Declaration to Strengthen Democracy and Promote Electoral Integrity through Electoral Reforms.” From December 6-7, the forum was joined by over 300 stakeholders from election manage… Read more



October 3, 2023


The Asia Foundation supports Nepal’s vision for sustainable peace, good governance, development, and prosperity through research, knowledge exchange, and accelerating more inclusive and accountable democratic governance practices. Partnering with government and civil society, we promote inclusive economic development, peaceful conflict mitigation a… Read more

A group of men and women at an event stand on stage in front of large screen with a promotional graphic 

Preventing Disinformation in Indonesia Ahead of the 2024 Elections

May 12, 2023

Program Snapshot

In anticipation of disinformation ahead of the 2024 elections, The Asia Foundation, in partnership with the National Resilience Agency and Katadata, hosted the public discussion “Counteracting Disinformation in the Political Year” on May 4, 2023. This event highlighted the need for media literacy and methods of determining information accuracy for… Read more


Updates from Washington, DC: May 2023 Newsletter

May 9, 2023


Welcome to The Asia Foundation’s Washington, D.C. May newsletter. This latest issue highlights four of our recent events: a roundtable on the Foundation’s women’s empowerment and gender equality program, a book talk with Ambassador Scot Marciel, a panel showcasing the work of female Indonesian forest defenders, and a panel on conflict trends in Asi… Read more


Elections in Mongolia (1992-2021)

April 27, 2023


Mongolia’s transition to democracy has been cemented over eight democratic election cycles, each of which has featured multi-party competition, led to peaceful transitions of power, and been deemed free and fair by most observers. These achievements are reminders that Mongolia remains a strong, albeit young, democracy that has shown resilience. Des… Read more


A Survey of the Nepali People in 2022

February 14, 2023


A Survey of the Nepali People in 2022 is based on a nationally representative sample of 7,056 Nepalis randomly selected from 588 wards across all seven provinces. The findings are representative both at the national and provincial levels. This survey attempts to gauge Nepalis’ views on the country’s direction, the situation of their household, loca… Read more


Nepal Elections: Why Can’t the Mayor Be a Woman?

May 11, 2022

Blog and Podcast

Fourteen thousand women won political office in Nepal’s first local elections in 2017. With the 2022 elections now just days away, our guest asks why so few women ran at the top of the ticket.


Beyond “Capacity”: Gendered Election Processes, Networks, and Informality in Local Governments in Nepal

May 11, 2022


While many donors and much state attention have focused on building the skills and capacities of elected women to make them effective in their formal political roles, recent research has shown the need to look beyond formal institutions and processes to understand the informal rules that affect the ability of women elected representatives to fulfil… Read more


Updates from Washington, DC: February/March 2022

March 25, 2022


In this issue: Lotus Leadership Awards 2022; Australasian Aid Conference Speaker Series: Debt Prospects and Challenges for Developing Countries in the Continuing Pandemic; The Impact of Covid-19 on Small Businesses in Southeast Asia: A Deeper Look at the Women’s Workforce in Thailand and Malaysia; Book Launch: Cambodia’s Chairmanship of ASEAN: Chal… Read more


Nepal’s Federalism Milestone: Five Opportunities and a Second Round of Elections

March 2, 2022

Blog and Podcast

After months of uncertainty, Nepal has announced the second round of local elections under its historic 2015 constitution. In the face of Covid lockdowns and political paralysis, local governments have been a bright spot on the nation’s rocky road to federalism.


2020 General Election: State and Region Hluttaws

December 15, 2020


Following this year’s General Election and the UEC’s release of the official results, The Asia Foundation has produced the attached short brief detailing the new composition of Myanmar’s state and region hluttaws(parliaments). Beyond the strong performance of the NLD, the brief notes improved women’s representation in the state/region hluttaws, the… Read more


Updates from Washington, DC: September/October 2020

November 17, 2020


The 2020 Elections in Myanmar: A Conversation with Ambassador Mark McDowell; Webinar Series: Changing Landscape of Development Cooperation Amidst and Beyond Covid-19 in Asia; Summit on Women’s Leadership in STEM: A Virtual Trilateral Event; Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia; Thailand: How to Sell an Avocado on Facebook;… Read more


Virtual Event – The 2020 Elections in Myanmar: A Conversation with Ambassador Mark McDowell

Washington, DC, Thursday, November 12, 2020


9:00 am – 10:00 am ET (Washington DC) 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm MMT (Myanmar) Voters in Myanmar cast their ballots in a national parliamentary election on November 8. This election was seen as a referendum on Aung San Sun Kyi and her ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party achievements amid an economic crisis caused by Covid-19 and an exercise in… Read more


2020 in Asia: A 20/20 Look

January 8, 2020

Blog and Podcast

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first edition of InAsia for 2020. To herald the new decade, our country representatives this week survey the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for a dynamic and rapidly changing Asia. Here, to kick off the new year, are perspectives from The Asia Foundation’s 18 country offices. 


Twenty Years of Elections and Democracy in Timor-Leste

August 28, 2019

Blog and Podcast

Twenty years ago this week, the people of East Timor, now Timor-Leste, went to the polls for the landmark referendum that would determine their nation’s political future. On August 30, 1999, the people voted overwhelmingly to reject Indonesia’s plan for “special autonomy” and instead to pursue national independence for East Timor. It would be the f… Read more


Pompeo to ASEAN: The U.S. Is Committed

August 14, 2019

Blog and Podcast

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo came to the 52nd annual ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bangkok with one message in mind: that America is committed to engagement with the region, and with Thailand, a treaty ally, in particular. Speaking to a packed house at the Siam Society on August 1, in the heart of Bangkok, Pompeo said the United States… Read more


Trump and Modi: Prospects For US-India Burden Sharing

June 25, 2019


A joint project with the National University of Singapore’s Institute of South Asian Studies. For nearly two decades, there has been a steady and incremental advance in relations between the United States and India. Refuting skeptics on both sides, the two nations have overcome significant internal political and bureaucratic resistance to advance t… Read more


A Survey of the Nepali People 2018

May 6, 2019


Starting from 1990 when the first major political movement restored multiparty democratic system in the country, to 2017 when the elections at all three levels of a new republic and a federally structured country took place, Nepal has gone through unprecedented socio-political changes. When so many path-changing and historical events take place in… Read more


Updates from Washington, DC: April 2019

April 30, 2019


In this issue: Cambodia, Update on Nepal’s Federalism, Addressing the Gender Divide in India, Lotus Leadership Awards Dinner, Let’s Read Initiative, Indonesian Elections, Pakistani Women in Law, 2019 Development Fellows, Myanmar’s Energy Sector, and Shifting to Planned Urbanization in Asia


Watching and Waiting: Indonesia’s Upcoming Elections

April 10, 2019

Blog and Podcast

On April 17, Indonesia will hold its sixth democratic election since the Reformasi protests brought down the authoritarian government of President Suharto. On streets thick with election posters, a mix of hope and trepidation fills the air. Development has begun to move faster in this complex archipelago of over 260 million people, particularl… Read more


New Faces, New Chapter in Thai Politics

March 27, 2019

Blog and Podcast

Thailand’s March 24 parliamentary election is still playing out, and uncertainty about the results is likely to continue for weeks. At the time of this post, the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) has announced a preliminary tally giving the Pheu Thai Party 135 seats, or 38.6 percent, and the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) 98 seats, or 28 percen… Read more


Reuters Features Quote from Country Representative Thomas Parks

March 25, 2019

Media Coverage

Reuters quotes the Asia Foundation’s country representative in Thailand, Thomas Parks, in an article analyzing Thailand’s upcoming general elections. The article was also featured in The New York Times and Channel NewsAsia.  Addressing inequality should be high on the agenda of the next government, said Thomas Parks, country representative of… Read more


Updates from Washington, DC: December 2018

December 15, 2018


In this issue: Afghanistan in 2018, Gender Equality in Afghanistan, Timor-Leste’s Nabilan Program, Myanmar, Increasing Environmental Resilience in Indonesia, YSEALI Summit, Inclusive Elections in the Philippines


An Analysis of Campaign Finance and CSO Operations in the 2017 Elections

November 19, 2018


The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) deployed a study team of international election observers to undertake an independent assessment of key components of the electoral process during Nepal’s 2017 House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly Elections. The mission’s aims were to contribute to the strengthening of Nepal’s electoral proc… Read more


Fully Abled Nation – Making Elections More Inclusive

October 30, 2018


This story traces the efforts of Fully Abled Nation (FAN), a multi-sectoral coalition, towards making Philippine elections more inclusive.


Study on the Election Campaign Finance: Local, Provincial and Federal Elections in Nepal, 2017

October 10, 2018


The Study on the Election Campaign Finance: Local, Provincial, and Federal Elections in Nepal, 2017 aims to measure the extent and magnitude of financial accountability of political parties in Nepal contesting in the local, provincial, and federal elections. This research study was conducted by Election Observation Committee – Nepal. The findings a… Read more


Pakistan: Vote First

September 1, 2018

Program Snapshot

A social media card from the campaign. As a lead up to the 2018 general elections in Pakistan, The Asia Foundation supported the outreach campaign Voters Education and Engagement Program – Vote First (#VoteFirst). Through this initiative, the Foundation educated citizens about their constitutional right to vote and its importance in strengthening t… Read more


Interview with Avais Sherani on VoteFirst and Pakistan’s Momentous Election

August 29, 2018

Blog and Podcast

The general elections in Pakistan last month that propelled Imran Khan to the Prime Minister’s seat were momentous in many ways. With troubled relations abroad and fiscal difficulties at home, the electoral stakes were high. Newly liberalized voter registration laws and an enormous youth population promised a surge of first-time voters. The Asia Fo… Read more


Asia Foundation’s Afghanistan Country Representative Discusses Upcoming Presidential Election

August 3, 2018

Media Coverage

Tolo News features The Asia Foundation’s Afghanistan Country Representative Abdullah Ahmadzai in a televised discussion about the Independent Election Commission’s July 31st announcement that the presidential elections are to be held on April 20, 2019.  According to a statement issued by the President’s Office at the time, President… Read more


Pakistan Election Day

August 1, 2018

Blog and Podcast

On July 25, I voted for Pakistan. The national elections of 2018, preceded by controversy and enveloped in political heat, were conducted in the true spirit of democracy that Pakistan so deserves. Observers and analysts will have their say, but I want to share my experience of three inspiring aspects of Elections 2018. First, after working with my… Read more


Updates from Washington, DC: July 2018

July 31, 2018


In this issue: Community Mediation, Bangladesh, Post-2018 Elections in Timor-Leste, 200 Years of US-Thailand Relations, Let’s Read! Initiative, Pakistan, Women in Afghanistan’s Legal Sector, Seventh World Peace Forum in Beijing, Women Empowerment, and Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia


Nepal’s Locally Elected Women Representatives: Exploratory Study of Needs and Capacity Assessment

July 19, 2018


The successful completion of local, provincial, and federal elections in 2017 was a historic milestone for Nepal, coming after almost two decades. A record number of women representatives were elected to office in these elections, and this has presented both opportunities and challenges. This increased number of women, especially from marginalized… Read more


Pakistan Elections: Will Youth Right the Nation’s Course?

July 18, 2018

Blog and Podcast

On July 25, roughly 106 million Pakistanis will begin casting their ballots for 272 National Assembly members and 577 Provincial Assembly members to serve for the next five years. The results of past elections in Pakistan have consistently been mired in controversy. Accusations of vote-rigging from losing parties are common, as in 2013, when the Pa… Read more


Dawn: Election Mela aims to reduce rejected votes, increase turnout on polling day

July 18, 2018

Media Coverage

Dawn newspaper in Pakistan highlights The Asia Foundation’s participation in an Election Mela, an event designed to raise awareness about voting and political participation. The Asia Foundation, in collaboration with PODA (Potohar Organization for Development & Advocacy) and the Election Commission of Pakistan, held an “Election Mela” (Election… Read more


Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia: An Early Assessment of the Trump Presidency

July 18, 2018


Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia: an Early Assessment of the Trump Presidency offers a follow-up to The Asia Foundation’s signature foreign policy initiative, AVARA, or Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia: The Future of the Rebalance, which brought together diverse perspectives from influential Asian thought leaders on U.S. foreign policy pr… Read more


Ahead of Pakistan’s National Elections, Asia Foundation Encourages First Time Voters with “VoteFirst”

Islamabad, July 12, 2018


The Asia Foundation’s Pakistan office has successfully introduced a social media campaign ahead of Pakistan’s general elections scheduled for July 25th. VoteFirst uses social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share videos, pictures, illustrations, graphics and positive messages to encourage citizens to vote. The campaign s… Read more


Social Media will be a Game Changer in 2019 Philippine Elections

July 11, 2018

Media Coverage

In a PTV News report, a Philippine digital strategy firm cites InAsia blog piece, “Social Media: A Game Changer in Philippines Elections,” written by former deputy country representative Maria Isabel T. Buenaobra. As the Philippine 2019 mid-term elections draw near, the analytics firm, David and Golyat, has advised social media users and the g… Read more


Updates from Washington, DC: June 2018

June 27, 2018


In this issue: Timor-Leste, Gender Justice in Sri Lanka, 2018 APEC App Challenge, Women’s Entrepreneurship in Mongolia, Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding, Elections in Timor-Leste, Indonesia, and City Life Survey in Myanmar


Indonesia: Normalizing Intolerance

June 6, 2018

Blog and Podcast

The stunning, 2017 electoral defeat of Jakarta’s popular, non-Muslim governor, and his subsequent imprisonment for blasphemy, caught most Indonesians off guard. Indonesia was built on the premise of pluralism, writes Asia Foundation country director Sandra Hamid, and appeals to Islam had been largely ineffective in past elections. But as politician… Read more

Candidates attend a campaign debate in Timor-Leste 

Televised Debates: Another Democratic Step

May 23, 2018

Blog and Podcast

Southeast Asia’s newest country and youngest democracy, Timor-Leste, has once again conducted a successful national election. On Saturday, May 12, the Timorese people went to the ballot box to decide which among four political parties and four party coalitions should lead their country for the next four years. It was an early election, called by Pr… Read more


A Front Row Seat to Five Years of Rapid Change in Myanmar

March 14, 2018

Blog and Podcast

In 2012, when I first started to travel to Myanmar from my base in Hanoi, where I was The Asia Foundation’s Vietnam country representative, the big question that everyone I met would raise was: “Is this transition to be believed?” The military generals who shed their uniforms to become civilians in the first government elected under the 2008 Consti… Read more


Revamping Philippine Election Service

March 2, 2018


The Election Reforms Law of 1987 mandates that Philippine public school teachers oversee the voting and counting processes during elections. While this old law provided a capable and available workforce, it unintentionally made teachers vulnerable to political pressures. This brief traces the efforts of the Coalitions for Change program and its ref… Read more


Updates from Washington, DC: January 2018

January 29, 2018


In this issue: Philippines, Technology, China, Women’s participation, Nepal Elections, Afghanistan, and Timor-Leste


Bangladesh’s Democracy 2017: According to Its People

January 22, 2018


A Survey of the Bangladeshi People This survey, conducted in January and February 2017, captures the diverse range of attitudes towards democracy and elections, identity, and violence, and compares them with similar surveys carried out in 2006 and 2015. Overall, Bangladeshis are more optimistic in 2017 compared to 2015, as reflected in responses ac… Read more


Asia’s Biggest Issues in 2018: Experts Weigh In

January 3, 2018

Blog and Podcast

Without a doubt, 2017 put Asia to the test. Religious and ethnic tensions spilled out onto the streets, game-changing elections toppled leaders as new ones emerged, some economies boomed while others declined. Meanwhile, natural disasters such as the devastating floods in South Asia—the worst in a decade—killed over 1,000 people, displaced millions… Read more

Nepal Local elections 

Nepal Elections: More Women Have a Seat at the Table, But Will They Have a Voice?

December 13, 2017

Blog and Podcast

2017 is a milestone year for Nepal: millions of Nepalis voted in provincial and federal elections which ended last week, and earlier this year, the country held its first local elections in two decades, electing a total of 35,041 local representatives across 753 local levels. The elections were also a high point for women elected leaders, thanks to… Read more

Nepal elections 

Nepal Embarks on New Political Course

November 29, 2017

Blog and Podcast

Millions of Nepalis on Sunday cast their votes in the first of two-phase provincial and federal elections which will conclude on December 7. Thousands of candidates from more than 90 parties are competing for 275 seats in the new federal parliament and 550 seats in seven provincial assemblies across the country. A police personnel guards a polling… Read more


TAF-DFAT Subnational Governance Program Update on Municipalities Selection

November 15, 2017


Within the Australian Government-The Asia Foundation Partnership, Community Members Interested (COMMITTED) is profiling emblematic municipalities to capture the status of public service delivery for devolved sectors. This will help define and establish a tested planning and development process that will enable a long-term vision and objective to ad… Read more

Nepal local elections 

Peaceful Municipal Elections Show That Nepal Is Not as Divided at the Local Level

November 1, 2017

Blog and Podcast

Below is an excerpt from an interview with The Asia Foundation’s country representative in Nepal, George Varughese, first published by World Politics Review. In mid-September, Nepal closed the chapter on its first local elections in two decades, as the third phase of voting for municipal bodies took place in restive southern Nepal. The vote was fre… Read more


Aid and Recovery in Post-Earthquake Nepal: Quantitative Survey April 2017

October 25, 2017


Two years after two powerful earthquakes hit Nepal in April and May 2015, the Independent Impacts and Recovery Monitoring project (IRM) completed its fourth round of research to track how people are recovering, what aid has been provided and how effective it has been, which groups are being left behind, and what coping strategies people have used…. Read more

Philippines elections 

Reform Addresses Need for Impartial Election Staff in the Philippines

October 18, 2017

Blog and Podcast

On October 2, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law postponing barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth) elections to May 2018—less than one month before they were scheduled to take place on October 23. The move marks the second postponement of local elections under Duterte, who claimed that the elections could interfere with… Read more


Political Party Financing in Mongolia: A Road to Grand Corruption?

October 18, 2017

Blog and Podcast

While true that Mongolia’s economy is heavily dependent on fluctuating coal and copper prices, it is also true that the country’s political parties increasingly influence economic outcomes. According to The Asia Foundation’s annual survey on perceptions of corruption in Mongolia, in 2010, political parties ranked fifth on a list of the 16 most corr… Read more


Governance in the Philippines

September 8, 2017


The Asia Foundation’s governance program in the Philippines has focused on supporting key democratic institutions and strong civil society organizations, encouraging respect for the rule of law and human rights, promoting peace and security and supporting trends towards more democratic, open and accountable governance. Currently, the Foundation par… Read more

Tourism campaign timor 

Timor-Leste Prepares for New Government and Opportunities for Tourist Economy

August 9, 2017

Blog and Podcast

In July, Timor-Leste held its 4th parliamentary election, heralding in a new government, and potentially new leadership both within key ministries and at the prime ministerial level. Such leadership changes come at a critical time for the oil-dependent island nation, with warnings that if it doesn’t diversify its economy beyond oil extraction, the… Read more

Nepal local elections 

Federal Provisions of Nepal’s Constitution in Jeopardy

July 26, 2017

Blog and Podcast

A decade ago, Nepal’s political parties agreed to change the country’s unitary system of government to a federal system. This change was seen by many as a panacea to help address the country’s problems of governing such variegated demography, society, and geography. Two years after Nepal’s 2015 Constitution established federalism, the country is no… Read more


Psychosocial Program Seeking Well-Being and Professionalizing Care in Sri Lanka

July 18, 2017


Presidential elections in January 2015 and parliamentary elections the following August promised sweeping changes to Sri Lanka’s political landscape and brought new hopes for reconciliation, restoration, and healing after the 26-year civil war, which ended in 2009. The new government, with its stated commitment to postconflict reconciliation, has h… Read more

Road construction in Timor 

Can Social Auditing Drive More Inclusive Development in Timor-Leste?

July 12, 2017

Blog and Podcast

It is rare for a government leader to offer explicit support and resources for social auditing, a process in which citizens monitor government services and programs to ensure that they are inclusive and serve the needs of the people. But Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araújo did just that at his swearing-in ceremony in early 2015. A soci… Read more


Updates from Washington, DC: June and July 2017

July 1, 2017


In this issue: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Women’s Empowerment Program, Technology, The Philippines, Mongolia, Elections, and Timor-Leste.

Mongolia election 

Five Critical Issues Facing Mongolia’s Fifth President

June 28, 2017

Blog and Podcast

On June 26, Mongolians went to the polls to vote for their fifth president since Mongolia’s transition to a democracy in 1990. Despite a high voter turnout of over 66 percent, the General Election Commission officially announced on Tuesday that none of the candidates had received the necessary 51 percent of the vote to declare a winner. As a result… Read more

Timor presidential election 

Timor-Leste Parliamentary Election: Resistance Credentials Likely to Dominate

June 28, 2017

Blog and Podcast

On July 22, Timorese will once again cast their vote in the country’s fourth parliamentary election since independence from Indonesia in 1999. With the March presidential election now almost a distant memory, all eyes are on the hotly contested parliamentary election. It is interesting to note that despite all the news and controversy surround… Read more


Women’s Political Participation in Myanmar: Experiences of Women Parliamentarians 2011-2016

June 22, 2017


Sixty years of military rule in Myanmar has seen the critical role of women’s political participation marginalized. From an extremely low base, the 2010 general elections increased the opportunity for women’s participation in governance. The 2015 general elections presented another opportunity for a more inclusive representational government, and M… Read more


Unpacking Martial Law in Mindanao

May 31, 2017

Blog and Podcast

Even by Philippine standards, the past week has been a tumultuous one. Militants linked to Islamic State fought security forces in the Islamic City of Marawi, President Duterte cut short a state visit to Russia and declared Martial Law in Mindanao, and peace negotiations with the Communist insurgents seem on the verge of breakdown. President Dutert… Read more

Korea scene 

Korea’s ‘N-Po’ Generation Looks to New Administration for Jobs

May 31, 2017

Blog and Podcast

Less than a month into his new presidency, South Korea’s new leader, Moon Jae-in, already faces a multitude of challenges, foremost of which are heightened tensions on the Peninsula over North Korea’s missile threat. But as the new administration sets its policy agenda, the concerning rise in youth unemployment will no doubt also be near the top. T… Read more


Updates from Washington, DC: May 2017

May 31, 2017


In this issue: Malaysia, Nepal, Young Lotus Circle, Women’s Empowerment, Elections, Cambodia, Laos, Environment, India, and the Philippines.

Moon Jae-in 

Korea Election: A Litmus Test of the System

May 17, 2017

Blog and Podcast

On May 9, after more than six months of massive political demonstrations, public turmoil, and an impeachment, Koreans elected Democratic Party candidate Moon Jae-in as their new president. While the snap election was of unusual significance for Koreans for a number of reasons, it also provided a model for other countries on how a political crisis c… Read more

Nepal local elections 

From Subjects to Citizens: Reconnecting Nepalis with a Democratic Political Process

May 10, 2017

Blog and Podcast

Next week, Nepalis will vote in local elections for the first time in 20 years. The first phase of elections will be held on May 14 in federal provinces 3, 4, and 6; the second phase is scheduled for June 14 in provinces 1, 2, 5, and 7. Election fever has certainly gripped the country and there is much excitement about having elected representative… Read more


Photo Blog: Election Day in South Korea

May 10, 2017

Blog and Podcast

On May 9, South Koreans voted in a snap presidential election, with Democratic Party leader Moon Jae-in emerging as the winner, in a victory that is said to be bolstered by the strong support of the country’s youth. After a grueling campaign, the election sees the political pendulum shift following months of political turmoil surrounding a massive… Read more


Cambodia’s Online Reform Initiative Inventory

Phnom Penh, April 27, 2017

Program Snapshot

After two decades of steady gains at the ballot box under Prime Minister Hun Sen’s rule, in 2013 his Cambodian People’s Party lost 22 seats to a newly formed coalition, the Cambodian National Rescue Party. Many interpreted this unexpected result as a popular call for change. Since then, some have wondered whether these calls for change have transla… Read more

Nepal elections 

Why Nepal’s Upcoming Local Elections Matter More than Ever

April 26, 2017

Blog and Podcast

On May 14, Nepalis will go to elections for newly-delineated local (village and municipal) governments. These comprise one of three constitutionally mandated elections to be completed by January 2018. At the time they were announced, the news of elections at the local level brought mixed reactions from those who wish for some si… Read more

Myanmar elections 

Myanmar’s By-Elections: At a Glance

April 12, 2017

Blog and Podcast

On April 1, nearly 800,000 out of some 2 million eligible voters cast their ballot in Myanmar’s by-elections to fill 19 vacant seats at the national and sub-national level. The election is the first since the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government assumed power in March 2016, and the first to be administered by the new Union Election Co… Read more


Inclusive Governance in South Asia: Bangladesh Conference

Dhaka, April 2, 2017

Program Snapshot

South Asia as a whole is more democratic now than at any time in the past. Most of the countries in the region can be labeled as “electoral” democracies. While international concerns have prompted countries in the region to move toward improving accountability mechanisms, the inclusion of citizens as legitimate stakeholders in the process of govern… Read more

Timor elections 

Is Timor-Leste Ready for an Issues-Based Election?

March 29, 2017

Blog and Podcast

On March 20, the people of Timor-Leste cast their vote for a new president—the fourth time since 2002 and the first without a UN peacekeeping presence—with former independence leader and Fretilin party head, Francisco “Lú-Olo” Guterres, securing 57 percent of the votes. Then president Taur Matan Ruak shows his ballot as he prepares to vote for the… Read more

Korea election 

Snap Election in South Korea: What You Need to Know

March 15, 2017

Blog and Podcast

On March 10, South Korea’s Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye from office after she was impeached over a massive corruption scandal. An election to choose her successor must be held by May 9, leaving less than two months for potential candidates to campaign. This political drama takes place at the same time as several other major… Read more


Timor-Leste Elections 2017: More of the Same?

March 15, 2017

Blog and Podcast

Politics in Timor-Leste is always engaging and colorful, and the lead-up to the 2017 presidential election on March 20 is no exception. With campaigning in full swing, the Timorese variety of consensus politics is on full display. It is a common site these days to see campaign event-bound trucks loaded with supporters of two former opposition parti… Read more

ATM lines in India 

Q&A: Understanding India’s Cash Crisis

February 1, 2017

Blog and Podcast

Nearly three months after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a ban on its highest-denomination currency to curb corruption and tax evasion, the country is still reeling from the move, with millions struggling from a cash shortage in an overwhelmingly cash-dependent economy. In Asia editor Alma Freeman spoke with The Asia Foundation’s cou… Read more

Downtown Seoul at night 

Q&A: Minister Han Sung-Joo on Korea’s Constitutional Crisis & President Trump

January 18, 2017

Blog and Podcast

South Korea’s former Foreign Minister Han Sung-Joo, who was recently decorated by Japanese Emperor Akihito with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, the top civilian medal of honor in Japan, for his distinguished achievements in promoting Seoul-Tokyo relations and friendship, spoke with The Asia Foundation’s country representative in Ko… Read more


Asia’s Biggest Issues in 2017: Experts Weigh In

January 4, 2017

Blog and Podcast

In 2016, Asia was rocked by major events that tested the region’s perseverance and proved its strength. While many countries in the region proved to be economically resilient and politically stable, others were challenged by shifting alliances and leadership change, including the passing of a beloved monarch, and threats of regional security and re… Read more

Cover of Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia: The Future of the Rebalance 

Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia: The Future of the Rebalance

November 14, 2016


The 2016 election campaign has revealed mounting concern and skepticism about American foreign policy commitments towards Asia, including signals towards anti-globalization and isolationism. Concerns have been raised about free trade and investment, the rise of China, territorial disputes, nuclear proliferation, and America’s presence in Afghanista… Read more

Timor-Leste 2016 Suku Election Survey image. 

Timor-Leste 2016 Suku Election Survey

September 20, 2016


On August 17, 2016, the Government of Timor-Leste announced in the Journal du Republica the intention to proceed with the local government elections for xefes Aldeia, suku council members, and xefe suku on September 30, 2016. The upcoming election would follow the new election proceedings as contained within the newly promulgated Suku Law No. 9/201… Read more

Students in the Philippines 

Despite Opposition, K-12 Education Reform Moves Forward in the Philippines

August 24, 2016

Blog and Podcast

By August, 1.5 million students across the Philippines attended 11th grade for the first time, thanks to the newly established senior high school (SHS), a cornerstone of the country’s long-running K-12 education reform efforts. The education reform debate leading up to this moment had been centered on whether or not to defer implementation of the K… Read more


Myanmar Election Apps

August 1, 2016


During Myanmar’s historic 2015 election, the only consistently available and reliable source of candidate information was via online mobile apps, and every one of those apps was powered by The Asia Foundation’s Mae Pay Soh (“Let’s Vote”) voter information database.


Elections and Political Processes in Asia

June 27, 2016


The Asia Foundation is one of the largest and most effective providers of election and governance assistance in Asia. Our programs support free and fair elections through voter education, voter registration, election administration, and international and domestic election observation. In addition, we support democratic governance through political… Read more


Philippines Marks First Disability-Inclusive Elections

May 25, 2016

Blog and Podcast

The May 9 Philippine election not only set a new record for voter turnout, it also marked the first time that Republic Act 10366 – which mandates that polling stations be fully accessible for people with disabilities (PWDs) – was implemented in full. In his speech during the proclamation of senators-elect, the Philippine Commission on Elections (CO… Read more


What a Duterte Win Means for Philippines

May 11, 2016

Blog and Podcast

In 2010, the Philippines conducted its first-ever automated poll, and I wrote that “elections had changed, but politics didn’t.” This year for a second time, a general election, including the presidency, was automated. Again we had concessions from presidential candidates the day after the polls instead of having to wait weeks for a manual count. T… Read more

Cover of Sri Lanka Strategic Assessment 2016 

Sri Lanka Strategic Assessment 2016

May 4, 2016


Sri Lanka underwent a major political transition in 2015 with the election of President Maithripala Sirisena and the establishment of a new coalition government between the United Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) and one faction of the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA). The Sri Lanka Strategic Assessment analyses six spheres of contestation… Read more


Social Media: A Game Changer in Philippine Elections

April 27, 2016

Blog and Podcast

Less than two weeks before May 9 presidential elections in the Philippines, it is still anyone’s ballgame and no one knows who will emerge as the frontrunner. With such a tightly contested race, it is bound to be a “last two minutes” kind of game, with each candidate scrambling to make the winning shot. How exactly will the candidates swing the vot… Read more


A Tale of Two Women: Presidential and VP Races Heat Up in the Philippines

March 23, 2016

Blog and Podcast

March came in with a bang. In this month of International Women’s Day, two Filipino women stand out: Senator Grace Poe and Congresswoman Leni Robredo. Both are running for the two highest elective posts in the May 9 elections in the Philippines – Poe for president, Robredo for vice president. Both were thrust into the political limelight after the death of their loved ones: Senator Grace Poe lost her father, and one of the Philippines’ most famous movie stars turned presidential candidate in the 2004 elections; and Congresswoman Leni Robredo…


The Politics of Religion in the Philippines

February 24, 2016

Blog and Podcast

Thirty years ago, on Feb. 22, 1986, then Jaime Cardinal Sin made an urgent call on church-owned Radio Veritas for Filipinos to take to the streets and support the revolt against President Ferdinand E. Marcos. For most Filipinos, Jaime Cardinal Sin’s message was what started the People Power Revolution, with hundreds of thousands of supporters…


Personalities and Issues Emerge Ahead of Philippines General Elections

February 17, 2016

Blog and Podcast

Formal campaigning officially began last week for the May 9 general elections in the Philippines, with much flurry of advertisements and activities as candidates scrambled for last-minute publicity before campaign spending limits took effect. The informal campaign had already been going on for months with the list of five formal candidates…


Energy Crisis in the Philippines: An Electricity or Presidential Power Shortage?

March 18, 2015

Blog and Podcast

As predicted, the Philippines is heading into a severe “summer” power crisis. One peculiarity of the widespread use of English in the Philippines is the mismatch between seasonal names and the months of the year. Leaves start falling from trees in March – is it “autumn?”


A Conversation with Korea Journalist and Nieman Fellow Seung Ryun Kim

March 18, 2015

Blog and Podcast

Veteran Korean journalist Seung Ryun Kim, assistant editor at Channel A’s political desk, prime-time host, and 2014-15 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, recently visited Asia Foundation headquarters in San Francisco. Kim is the 27th Asian journalist sponsored by The Asia Foundation for this fellowship program since 1956.


Does the Ghani Administration Mean a Greater Role for Women in the Afghan Economy?

November 19, 2014

Blog and Podcast

At his inauguration on September 29, President Ashraf Ghani thanked his wife, Rula, for her support during the campaign, and to the surprise of many in Afghanistan, promised Afghans that she would continue her work advocating on behalf of the nation’s 750,000 internally displaced people. Having previously served as the country’s finance minister in 2002-2004…


Q&A with U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake

October 22, 2014

Blog and Podcast

The Asia Foundation hosted four U.S. ambassadors to Asia at its headquarters in San Francisco on October 9 for “ASEAN Matters,” a panel discussion on why Asia is crucial to the United States’ economic growth. In Asia editor Alma Freeman sat down with U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake…


Q&A with Indonesian Fellow, Women’s Movement Leader Dwi Rubiyanti Kholifah

August 6, 2014

Blog and Podcast

In Asia editor Alma Freeman recently interviewed Dwi Rubiyanti Kholifah, Indonesia country director for the Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN), which focuses on the role of women in peace building and inter-faith cooperation. Kholifah was selected as one of the 10 inaugural 2014 Asia Foundation Development Fellows.


Fellow Marcia Czarina Corazon Medina-Guce on Reform in the Philippines

June 25, 2014

Blog and Podcast

In Asia editor Alma Freeman recently interviewed Philippine local governance leader Marcia Czarina Corazon Medina-Guce on President Aquino’s ambitious reform agenda and progress on poverty reduction and inclusive development.


Implementation of Bangsamoro Holds Lessons for Philippines as a Whole

March 26, 2014

Blog and Podcast

As we prepare for the long-awaited March 27 signing in Manila between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, one of the striking things of the peace process…


Is Aquino Moving the Philippines Closer to Good Governance?

May 29, 2013

Blog and Podcast

Philippine President Benigno Aquino secured big wins in the May midterm elections, which were seen as vital to his ambitious reform agenda. Aquino now marks the midpoint of his single six-year term as president, and while it might be clear that politics has yet to change in the last three years…


Families, Not Political Parties Still Reign in the Philippines

May 22, 2013

Blog and Podcast

There has been some controversy about the quality of the May 2013 general elections in the Philippines, during which some 18,000 local and national positions were elected. But the fairest verdict of this exercise in electronic voting would seem to be that, like in May 2010, elections changed…


Local Government Critical in Pakistan’s 2013 Political Landscape

July 11, 2012

Blog and Podcast

Throughout Pakistan’s history, the issue of local government – and whether it is elected or bureaucratic – has been used by various regimes to advance their own agendas. The 18th Amendment of the Constitution passed by the National Assembly of Pakistan on April 8, 2010, requires…


Fighting Corruption in the Philippines: Models for Long-Term Success

May 16, 2012

Blog and Podcast

The issue of corruption in the Philippines has once again hit international newspapers with reports that the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Renato Corona (currently undergoing an impeachment trial before the Philippine Senate), had dozens of dollar accounts…


Political Families in the Philippines: Where Are They Now?

March 14, 2012

Blog and Podcast

Given that I’ve written that kinship is the idiom of social organization in the Philippines, it’s probably not surprising that when asked for one book to read about the Philippines I often recommend An Anarchy of Families: State and Society in the Philippines, edited by Alfred W. McCoy.


Philippine Senator Resigns Seat in Election Controversy with Deep Roots

August 10, 2011

Blog and Podcast

On August 3, in a nationally televised speech, Senator Juan Miguel “Migs” Zubiri resigned his seat in the upper house of the Philippine Congress. While he stated emphatically that he did not cheat, or ask anybody else to cheat, when he ran in the 2007 election, Zubiri said that rising speculation and publicity about fraud…


Egypt and the Philippines: Bridging 25 Years

March 9, 2011

Blog and Podcast

Many are wondering what lessons the 1986 People Power Revolution in the Philippines, which ousted Ferdinand Marcos after 14 years of strongman rule (which followed two terms as elected president), might hold for the current “fourth wave” of democratization sweeping through North Africa and the Middle East.


Philippine Election Update: Results Reported in Record Time, Largely Peaceful, Now What?

May 12, 2010

Blog and Podcast

The fact that an In Asia blog piece was scheduled to appear just two days after polls closed for the May 10 general elections in the Philippines was enough to cause anxiety for this writer. In the past, it was literally weeks before results of manual counting of handwritten ballots would produce results. This time, though, two days is enough to ana… Read more


Will Automated Elections in the Philippines Increase Public Confidence?

May 5, 2010

Blog and Podcast

In the past, Philippine elections have frequently been marred by allegations of widespread cheating and other electoral malpractice. The most famous (or perhaps infamous) method of cheating is called dagdag/bawas (add-subtract), when votes are subtracted from the opposition candidate and added to a favored candidate, and vice versa. Concerns over e… Read more


Philippine Voters Deluged by Election Surveys: But What Do They Measure?

May 5, 2010

Blog and Podcast

As the Philippines enters the final stretch before elections on Monday, May 10, competing survey results continue to deluge the public. The Philippines is well-endowed with respected, technically sound public opinion pollsters (as well as long-standing market researchers). So much so, that many suggest a “poll of polls” approach is necessary to mak… Read more


Looking Back as May 2010 Philippine General Elections Approach

April 28, 2010

Blog and Podcast

In the Philippines, there is a well-known saying by Jose Rizal: Ang hindi lumilingon sa pinanggalingan ay Hindi makararating sa paroroonan. “One who does not look back from where she came will never reach her destination.” So, as we prepare for the May 10 general elections here, we should review the past – but how far back need we go? The history o… Read more


Examining the Arroyo Legacy in the Philippines

April 7, 2010

Blog and Podcast

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has dominated Philippine politics this entire decade, first in January 2001 as a vice president who succeeded President Joseph Estrada on the heels of a “people power” protest (triggered by the suspension of the impeachment trial of President Estrada) – a succession that was confirmed by the Supreme Court. She then… Read more


Philippine Election Campaign Starts; Entertainment Industry Threatened

February 17, 2010

Blog and Podcast

It’s SHOWTIME!  In the Philippines, politics is entertainment and elections are fiestas. This proved to be true once again with the start of the official campaign season on February 9. At campaign kick-offs in various parts of the country, presidential candidates were joined with celebrities, singers, and dancers at the campaign sorties. Manny Vill… Read more


Changing the Landscape of Politics in the Philippines

October 14, 2009

Blog and Podcast

On the night of Sept. 1, 2009, Vicente Valera, former governor of Abra – a province in Northern Luzon in the Philippines – was arrested in his posh Rockwell condominium in Makati, Metro Manila. Valera is now the prime suspect in the murder of Congressman Luis Bersamin, Jr. The murder took place Dec.16, 2006, just prior to the campaign season for th… Read more


Corazon C. Aquino 1933-2009, now history

August 5, 2009

Blog and Podcast

The passing of former Philippine President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino has evoked strong emotions. Many – Filipino and foreigner alike – have written their thoughts and assessments since she died last weekend, some with mixed feelings one has when powerful memories have been stirred. Like most Filipinos, I never met “Cory” but came to know her first b… Read more


Measuring President Corazon Aquino’s Presidency

August 5, 2009

Blog and Podcast

In early 1992, toward the end of the administration of President Corazon Aquino, I participated in a Cabinet meeting where the discussion focused on her administration’s achievements and failings. Discussion was lively, and at times heated. There was much detailed argumentation on vision, strategy, programs, policy reforms, and delivery. President… Read more