Carter Centre to launch first-ever US election initiative, citing ‘erosion’ of democracy

The democracy promotion organisation founded by former president Jimmy Carter is to launch its first United States election initiative this year, citing an “erosion” of democracy in the country.

The Carter Centre has monitored more than 110 elections in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia since 1989 as part of democracy promotion efforts around the world. Although there are no plans yet to monitor polls in the US, this will be the first time it has engaged in a US election.

“We are now at a point where we have taken an institutional decision to explore some direct engagement on US election issues. And this is a departure from our whole history trying not to do that,” David Carroll, director of the centre’s Democracy Programme, told The Independent.In the past, he added, the centre has prioritised countries where there is “a significant potential for an important change in the quality of democracy”, or where democracy is “under severe threat”.“Until the last 10 years, we wouldn’t have thought of the US in that category. But it’s been increasingly the view of the Carter Centre that the state of democracy in the US has been eroding.”

“This is the first time that we’re really looking at it in a robust manner,” he added.

The decision by the Carter Centre to depart from its decades-long practice of non-involvement in US elections –partly over concerns that it would be portrayed as parti-san for its association with president Carter –is yet another sign of growing concern among the country’s former leaders at the threat to democracy posed by the Trump administration.

Just days ago, another former president, Barack Obama, delivered unprecedented criticism of Mr Trump’s administration at the Democratic convention, warning the incumbent president “will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win”.