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Dear readers,

Welcome to Democracy 2024, a series of articles and short films marking an extraordinary year ahead. More than half the global population is potentially voting in elections this year. Some of these polls will be rightly celebrated as evidence of people’s power, others will be fraught and more an exercise in window dressing than an expression of free will. In some cases, the vote may usher in or reinforce the power of a leader whose commitment to democracy is itself under question. 

Throughout the year, the state of democracy will be debated on our digital and print pages. Democracy as an idea remains the most powerful of aspirations, but the health of many democracies is increasingly challenged. 

To begin the conversation, FT award-winning filmmaker Juliet Riddell has commissioned authors Margaret Atwood, Elif Shafak, Lola Shoneyin, and comedian Aditi Mittal, to share their perspectives on democracy and its relevance, fragility and value. This is the FT’s latest collaboration with world-renowned artists to explore the most important issues of our time and engage audiences in new ways.

In her animated film, novelist Margaret Atwood demonstrates how democracy can be eroded and how we can be fooled into thinking authoritarianism is a preferred option. She urges viewers to “call the bluff” of leaders who tell us otherwise.

In a sitcom-style sketch, Indian comedian Aditi Mittal plays the roles of both a daughter fighting for a democracy in which women can thrive and a father defending autocracy and calling out hypocrisy in imperfect western democracies.

Turkish-British novelist Elif Shafak draws on nature to illustrate the parallels between democracy and the broader ecosystem. In a collaboration with world-renowned artists Marshmallow Laser Feast, she highlights the complex webs of interdependence and the need to withstand the erosion of fundamental values.

Nigerian poet and author Lola Shoneyin performs her poem about how coups and military dictatorships in Africa have been able to overthrow democracy with a single gunshot. Dancers are accompanied by an original score from world-famous musician Made Kuti, the grandson of Fela Kuti.

I hope you will enjoy and share the films, which are free to view. I also invite you to follow the democracy tag below so you don’t miss out on our coverage throughout the year.


How will democracy fare in 2024? As the world heads to the polls in what is set to be a historic election year, discover FT perspectives, analysis, opinion and film on the political challenges and promises ahead. Follow our coverage: ft.com/democracy2024

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024. All rights reserved.
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