The National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, is non-profit organization which claims to help train people in democracy and manages money grants to that effect, which was founded in 1983. Although administered by a private organization, its funding comes mostly from a governmental appropriation by the United States Congress. The NED is sometimes referred to as "Project Democracy," an appellation favored by Lt. Colonel Oliver North.
Its alleged links with authoritarian regimes in Latin America during the 1980s lead some critics to claim that rather than supporting democracy, it in fact opposes democracy.
Founding of the NED
The NED was first funded by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and shaped by an initial study undertaken by the American Political Foundation . 
NED was created with a view to creating a broad base of political support for the organisation. NED received funds from the US government and distributes funds to four other organisations – one each created by the Republican and Democrat parties, one created by the business community and one by the labour movement.
The four affiliated organisations are Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Free Trade Union Institute (parent organization for AIFLD).
Funding of foreign political parties
The NED regularly provides funding to opposition candidates in elections in countries other than the USA.
According to left-wing critics, the NED only supports candidates with strong ties to the military and who support the rights of US corporations to invest in those countries. They claim that the NED does not support candidates who oppose investments by US corporations or who promise restrictions on investment rights of US corporations. For example, Bill Berkowitz of Working for Change claims that The NED functions as a full-service infrastructure building clearinghouse. It provides money, technical support, supplies, training programs, media know-how, public relations assistance and state-of-the-art equipment to select political groups, civic organizations, labor unions, dissident movements, student groups, book publishers, newspapers, and other media. Its aim is to destabilize progressive movements, particularly those with a socialist or democratic socialist bent. 
Other critics maintain that the NED equates "democracy" with free trade, globalization, and the economic theories of Adam Smith.
John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton wrote that before the 1990 elections in Nicaragua “President Bush sent $9 million in NED, including a $4 million contribution to the campaign of opposition presidential candidate Violeta Chamorro”. Chamorro won. [Stauber and Rampton]
In the 1990 elections in Haiti, the NED supported Marc Bazin providing a big fraction of his total US-supported campaign funds of $36 million. Despite this funding, he only obtained 12% of the vote. Marc Bazin had earlier been a World Bank official. He was seen by most Haitians as a "front man for military and business interests", and had been prime minister during military rule, for the presidential election. 
During 2001/2002, the NED gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to US and Venezuelan groups who organised protests and a coup d'etat against the elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez. The coup happened on 11 April 2002. According to Wayne Madsen, a former intelligence officer with the US navy, US military attaches such as Lieutenant Colonel James Rogers had been in touch with members of the Venezuelan military to examine the possibility of a coup, while Roger Rondon claimed that both James Rogers and another US military officer, Ronald MacCammon, had been at the Fuerte Tiuna military headquarters with the coup leaders during the night of April 11-12. 
NED also funded political groups in the democracies of Western Europe in the 1980s. Its funding of French political groups such as the right-wing National Inter-University Union (associated with violent groups), was revealed by the French newspaper Libération. The United States government disassociated itself from these actions.
During the 1990s, NED invested some money, at least about $9,000,000 , in Eastern Europe to support its vision of economics and the shock therapy program, leading to unemployment rates of about 20-40% in Eastern European countries.
In 2004, documents were publicized which reveled the NED had given over US$1 million to anti-Chávez opposition groups in Venezuela.  Súmate, one such opposition group that had organized a recall referendum against him in August of 2003, received just over $50,000. Chávez has repeatedly questioned U.S. involvement in a short-lived coup on him on April 12, 2002 when the president was briefly overthrown. The documents show the NED tripled its funding from about $250,000 to nearly $900,000 between 2000 and 2001 in the lead up to the attempted ouster.  NED also sponsored controversial exit polls for the recall referendum in which the percentage of voteres supporting Chávez was significantly less than in the official election results.
Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia, Slovakia
The NED played a controversial role in the November, 2004 elections in the Ukraine. In an article in the Washington Post, NED director Nadia Diuk acknowledges the controversy: "Some have sought to portray the events in Ukraine as orchestrated in the West, a model executed with the support of Western pro-democracy foundations." Comparing this to similar recent interventions in Slovakia, Serbia and Georgia, she writes, "Some commentators believe that the similarity of their actions proves they are part of a U.S.-sponsored plot, an effort to extend American influence throughout the world." Choosing her words carefully, Diuk does not dismiss these charges outright, but strongly implies that critics are overlooking a genuinely "home-grown" aspect to the "election revolts" in these Eastern European countries. She acknowledges as well that "...there was a massive effort by nongovernmental organizations to monitor the vote, whether through parallel vote tabulations, exit polls or reports from domestic observers. These strategies were supported by the reports of Western election observers," and that "all these breakthrough elections have been accomplished with the vigorous participation of civic groups that support free and fair elections by monitoring the media, carrying out voter education, publicizing the platforms of candidates in the absence of a free press, training election observers, conducting polls and so on."
Source of Funding
The NED receives an annual appropriation from the U.S. budget and while a non-governmental organisation is subject to congressional oversight. In the financial year to the end of September 2002 NED had a budget of US$48.5 million. 
The NED also receives funding from various foundations. The Bradley Foundation has provided the most to date, nearly US$1.5 million in the past 18 years to support the Journal Of Democracy.
Directors of the Board includes Frank Charles Carlucci III of The Carlyle Group, General Wesley Clark, of venture capital company the Stephens Group , Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Dr. Francis Fukuyama, Johns Hopkins SAIS, and Evan Bayh current chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council.
Last updated: 05-09-2005 13:56:07
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04