Satisfaction with democracy is reaching a tipping point around the world

There are now more authoritarian regimes than full democracies

Latest updates

Recent publication

Trust and Democracy in Australia

December 2018

This report updates our findings from 2014 and 2016 on the relationship between trust in the political system and attitudes towards democracy.

Download the report »

Upcoming event

Trust the people

8 February 2019

Michael Cooney (Director of the Australian Republic Movement) will lead a panel discussion about the Prospects for an Australian Republic.

Upcoming event

Doing Democracy Differently

6 March 2019

Professor David Farrell (University College Dublin) will address Old Parliament House on what lessons we can draw from the Irish Constitutional Convention.

What is Democracy 2025?

The Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) and the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra (UC-IGPA) are embarking on a bold new initiative — Democracy 2025 to drive a process of national reflection and renewal on how we can rebuild trust and strengthen democratic practice in Australia.

Democracy 2025 will be a world-leading initiative based at the spiritual home of Australian democracy — Old Parliament House, Canberra.

Old Parliament House
Old Parliament House. Credit Andrew Merry.

Our aim is to become Australia’s leading go-to for applied research, analysis and interpretation of the challenges facing representative democracy and its potential for innovation and renewal.

Bringing together business, government, the public service and the community, our key objective is to bridge the trust divide by:

  1. rolling out innovative best-practice solutions to the liberal democratic challenges faced across Australia and the Asia-Pacific
  2. creating active, engaged and informed citizens
  3. positively influencing democratic leadership, capacity and practice
  4. promoting excellence and innovation in democratic governance

Democracy is in trouble

Democracy is on the retreat globally. We have now entered what the Pew Research Centre has termed a global ‘democratic recession’ (Pew Research Center, 2017). Satisfaction with democracy is tipping around the world — there are now more authoritarian regimes than full democracies (Kellogg, Varieties of Democracy Project, 2018).

Australia has not been immune to this worldwide phenomenon. Despite 25 years of economic growth — which traditionally means increased satisfaction — Australians have grown more distrustful of politicians, sceptical about democratic institutions and disillusioned with democratic processes.

Declining satisfaction with democracy

MoAD’s recent research, Trust and Democracy in Australia, shows in 2018 satisfaction in democracy has more than halved in a decade and trust in key institutions and social leaders is eroding.

By 2025 if nothing is done and current trends continue, fewer than 10 per cent of Australians will trust their politicians and political institutions — resulting in ineffective and illegitimate government, and declining social and economic wellbeing.

Why does this matter?

Weakening political trust erodes civic engagement, reduces support for evidence based public policies, promotes risk aversion in government, and creates the space for the rise of authoritarian-populist forces.

Trust is the glue that facilitates collective action for mutual benefit. Without trust we don’t have the ability to address complex, long-term challenges. Trust is also closely tied to democratic satisfaction.

The restoration of political trust in Australia is critical to the health of our society and to the defence of liberal democracy more broadly.

How will Democracy 2025 make a difference?

Our approach is inherently bold: targeting the threats to democracy head on, building a new generation of democratically engaged young Australians, and holding those in authority to account.

Democracy 2025’s six core programs will be delivered in partnership with national and international leaders in their fields.

Public Trust Index

The creation of a Public Trust Index will set a baseline for the measurement and improvement of Australian democratic practice and integrates the four key elements that influence public trust — integrity, transparency, accountability and participation — into a single democratic dashboard.

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Ignite Learning program

MoAD’s onsite schools’ learning programs currently reach 85,000+ students each year. Through Ignite, a new digital-based education program, we aim to reach every student in Australia.

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Democracy Lab

As a first for Australia, the Democracy Lab will bring together the public, experts, politicians and government officials at Old Parliament House to co-design solutions for some of our big national challenges and experiment with new forms of democratic innovations.

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Trust Building Public Leadership Program

Co-designed with government, business and community sector leaders, this innovative program specifically aims to improve trust systems in Australia and integrity in governance.

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Transformative exhibitions and events

Interactive and engaging, MoAD’s exhibitions and events will showcase core concepts of Australian democracy and highlight our latest research, providing a unique space for visitor experiences and responses.

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Australian Democracy in the Asian Century

By building strong regional partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region to generate research, education and engagement, this program aims to enhance the quality of democratic practice.

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Democracy 2025 – the collaborator of choice

Delivering this hugely bold and ambitious project can’t be achieved alone. We are bringing together government, public service, academia and the media. Democracy 2025 is supported by the expertise and cutting - edge thinking of our Founding Principals:

Professor Mark Evans, UC-IGPA Director Democracy 2025
Formerly Director of the Worldwide Universities Public Policy Network and Vice President of the Joint University Council for the Applied Social Sciences, he specialises in the study, design and delivery of democratic governance.
Daryl Karp, CEO and Director of MoAD
Chair Council of Australian Museum Directors, non-executive director SBS and Australian Children’s Television Foundation. With a focus on innovation and transformational change, she was recipient of the 2017 Telstra Business Women’s Awards in Public Sector and Academia Award – Australian Capital Territory.
Professor John Dryzek
Director, Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, UC-IGPA, Laureate Professor, he is known for his international contributions in the areas of democratic theory and practice and environmental politics
Professor Patrick Dunleavy
Director of the Democratic Audit of the United Kingdom, London School of Economics, UK, he is a political theorist specialising in the fields of public policy and government.
Michelle Grattan AO
Political Editor, The Conversation and Professorial Fellow at UC-IGPA. In 2004 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for her distinguished service to Australian journalism.
Virginia Haussegger AM
Director of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation and ACT Australian of the Year for 2019, she is an award-winning journalist and gender equality advocate.
Sean Innis
Director of the Public Policy and Societal Impact Hub, Australian National University, he was Special Adviser to Australia’s independent Productivity Commission in 2016, and has more than 25 years’ experience in public policy.
Professor Gerry Stoker
Centenary Professor, Centre of Governance, UC-IGPA. Author of Why Politics Matters: Making Democracy Work, he has a focus on public participation and public service reform.
Dr Nina Terrey
Partner at Thinkplace. Specialising in the transformation of complex services she advises senior executives on how to take a human-centred approach to managing change.

Democracy. Are you in?

We can't achieve this bold vision on our own.

Active citizenship is the key to strengthening our democracy.

Sign up for Democracy 2025 bulletins, events,and reports and champion Australian democracy by contacting Professor Mark Evans by email mark.evans@moadoph.gov.au or Twitter @MarkEvansACT