All FSI Projects

Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective

obama health care speech to joint session of congress
President Obama addresses Congress on September 9, 2009.
Photo credit: Lawrence Jackson;


Larry Diamond
Associated Faculty
Stephen J. Stedman
Principal Investigator
Faculty Director
Francis Fukuyama
Associated Faculty
Bruce E. Cain
Professor of Political Science
Stanford University
Didi Kuo
Project Manager
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
persily nathaniel1 400x400
Nathaniel Persily
James B. McClatchy Professor of Law
James B. McClatchy Professor of Law, Stanford University


The Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective was inaugurated in 2013 within Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. It aims to investigate problems with American democracy, including polarization and gridlock, poor governance, and declining trust in government institutions. It also analyzes policy initiatives and institutional reforms that have the greatest potential to address those features of American democracy that are most impairing its performance. An important and distinctive feature of the Program on American Democracy’s work is to study American problems in comparative perspective, with particular attention to the structure and functioning of other established democracies.

The Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective conducts policy-relevant research related to effective governance in the United States. It does this through hosting conferences and events, publishing policy reports, and uniting leading empirical scholars with policymakers and practitioners.

The Program’s research focuses on specific areas, including electoral systems reform, comparative budgetary policy, and lobbying and campaign finance reform. This research links institutional changes to a range of outcomes such as political participation, democratic accountability, and polarization. It also draws lessons from institutional reforms in other advanced democracies.


Program Events


Program Conferences


Recent Articles from Faculty Researchers

Diamond, Larry. "Ending the Presidential-Debate Duopoly." The Atlantic. 8 May 2015.


Tom Davis - Virginia's 11th District, 1995-2008
Martin Frost - Texas's 24th Congressional District, 1979-2005
Arend Lijphart - Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of California, San Diego
Matthew Shugart - Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis


Didi Kuo


Speaker: Elaine Kamarck
Speaker: Bruce Cain
Speakers: Senator Olympia Snowe , Jason Grumet , Bruce E. Cain
Speakers: Robert Bauer , Benjamin Ginsberg , Nate Persily
Speaker: Jonathan Rodden