Our Takes

The explosion of generative artificial intelligence, like ChatGPT, threatens to unleash a wave of uniquely deceptive disinformation ahead of the 2024 US elections. Everyone from campaigns to civil society must impose rules on the technology’s use before votes are cast, Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman writes in The Hill.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s regime moved beyond its usual censorship and targeted non-traditional media in the country’s elections, pressuring Twitter and spreading doctored videos to further advantage the incumbent, Research Assistant Nathan Kohlenberg writes for the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

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Q&A with Senior Manager and Fellow for Europe Vassilis Ntousas

This week, the Securing Democracy Dispatch continues with our Q&A series. We sat down with Vassilis Ntousas, ASD at GMF’s senior manager and fellow for Europe, to talk about the rise of the far-right in Europe and plans for the 2024 European Parliament elections.

What first made you realize you wanted to prioritize safeguarding democracy in your work?

The growing realization of how time-sensitive this work is. After years of working on issues relating to European foreign policy and the European Union’s global engagement, there were just too many incidents where I realized that democratic progress should not be taken as given or irreversible. Transatlantic turbulence during the Trump years, Brexit, the growing winds toward nationalism and authoritarianism, the attacks against information integrity, and the rise of resentment-driven politics and polarization—all alarming incidents and trends that made me realize there could not be a more critical time to work on defending democracy.

Where do you think ASD can have the biggest impact in Europe ahead of the 2024 European Parliament elections?

The year 2024 will be marked by important elections on both sides of the Atlantic—elections that we know are already seen as prized targets for authoritarian and illiberal actors, external and domestic alike. ASD has designed and will soon start implementing a comprehensive programming and research plan aimed at demonstrating in clear terms how harmful the interference threat ahead of next year’s European Parliament elections is, and at actively engaging with many key stakeholders and communities vested in facing this threat head-on. Stay tuned!

What do you consider the greatest threat to democracy in the transatlantic community right now? 

Something I have encountered in many discussions with policymakers and the wider public primarily in the United States but also across Europe is the increasing politicization over the intensifying trend of democratic erosion. If democracy backslides to an almost unrecognizable level, this will affect everyone, yet there are growing numbers of domestic political actors who are intently focused on understating this threat and pretending not to see its true root causes. Absent a bare minimum of shared political understanding of how destructive a weakened democratic system can be, however, responses to the problems at hand will continue to be lopsided and incommensurate with the magnitude of the challenge. At our own peril.

What is one trend or statistic that you are watching?

The mounting normalization of an ascendant far-right in Europe. As I had the chance to explain in a recent article in Politico Europe, certain political forces across Europe are increasingly tempted to embrace the once-taboo option of forming alliances with far-right parties to gain power. This is extremely dangerous, as a lack of a clear red line on this front serves to enable, mainstream, and normalize far-right forces and what they really stand for: a radical political rhetoric and an extremist policy agenda that often goes against the very core of our democratic principles and practices.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished reading The Passage of Power, the fourth volume in Robert A. Caro’s profound work on US President Lyndon Johnson. The book offers a compulsively readable recount of the years 1958 to 1964, arguably the most crucial years in the life of Johnson and pivotal years for US history. Next on the list is Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe, which is meant to be a truly gripping read, focusing on the Troubles in Northern Island beginning with the notorious 1972 killing of Jean McConville. 

ASD in the News

A test case challenging election results in Texas’ biggest county follows a post-Trump playbook. Senior Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine quoted in AP News

AstraZeneca defies geopolitics to bet on China. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman quoted in the Financial Times

Navigating the Age of Disinformation. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer and Investigative Data and Research Analyst Peter Benzoni interviewed on Disinformation podcast

Here’s how Maryland is already preparing for the 2024 election. Senior Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine quoted in Herald-Mail Media

Quote of the Week

“It’s not just about an aggression against Ukraine and Ukrainian citizens, as important as that is. It’s also an aggression against the very principles that are at the heart of keeping peace and security around the world: the idea that countries have to have their territorial integrity respected, their sovereignty respected, their independence respected.”

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during an interview with 60 Minutes Australia in Brisbane on July 29.

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.