Illiberal vs liberal democracy
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Illiberal vs. Liberal Democracy. Fareed Zakaria. Zakaria’s Points. There has been a recent “wave” of global democratization 188 of the world’s 193 countries are “democratic” 54% of the world’s population now live under a democratic form of government

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Zakaria’s Points

  • There has been a recent “wave” of global democratization

    • 188 of the world’s 193 countries are “democratic”

    • 54% of the world’s population now live under a democratic form of government

  • There is a problem with this “wave of democratization” however…..

    • 50% of these democratizing nations rank higher on Freedom House’s ‘political liberties” index than they do on its civil liberties” index. Consequently, they rank as “illiberal” democracies.


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Zakaria’s Points

  • These countries are moving rapidly toward incorporating even more illiberal features (less institutional protections of civil liberties)

  • Fukuyama’s conclusion that Western Liberalism has triumphed is premature. Liberal democracy is but one of several democratic models that may develop. Illiberal democracy represents an alternative model.


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Zakaria’s Points

  • Illiberal Democracy:

    • Process:

      • Competitive Multiparty Elections

  • Liberal Democracy:

    • Free, Open, and Fair Elections

      • No coercive state structures

      • Universal Suffrage

      • Laws that maintain competitive rules for all parties


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Zakaria’s Points

  • Freedom of the Press

  • Public Space for Debate

  • Popular Sovereignty (the “people” are the original source of authority via granting their consent to be governed by a representative legislature (this infers a social contract)

  • Majority Rule Balanced with Minority Rights

  • Limited Government

  • Institutional Checks and Balances

  • The Rule of Law (this includes political processes)

  • Tolerance (Pluralism). This includes freedom of religion and of speech.

  • Individual Political and Economic Rights

  • A conception of Natural Law (or at least some objective source of rights)


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Zakaria’s Points

  • Examples of Democracies with Illiberal Features:

    • Unitary, non-constitutional, communitarian, democracies such as:

      • Sweden: highly communitarian….restrictive of individual property rights

      • France: State media monopoly

      • England: An established state religion

      • The United States before universal suffrage was achieved

  • Liberalism comes from different sources than does democratic process:

    • Philosophy:

      • Greek philosophy (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle)

      • Roman republicanism

      • Hobbes

      • Locke

      • Madison

    • Non-democratic political actors:

      • British Lords at Runnymede (Magna Carta) brought about the republican legislatures of Great Britain (House of Lords and House of Commons))


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Zakaria’s Points

  • Many countries developed into “liberal” nations before they ever incorporated democratic features.

  • After WWII, many East Asian countries turned toward authoritarianism. Each moved however, over time, from autocracies to “liberalizing autocracies” and, in some cases, “liberalizing semi-democracies”.

  • Constitutional liberalism, therefore, leads to democracy. Democracy (or merely democratic process), on the other hand, does not seem to lead to constitutional liberalism.


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Zakaria’s Points

  • Constitutional Liberalism focuses on limiting the scope of government power.

  • Democracy focuses on increasing the scope of government power (as a tool to achieve the objectives of the “will of the electorate”)

  • In authoritarian regimes “transitioning” toward democracy, executive leaders elected through the democratic process (with no provisions for protection of the minority perspective) act as if they have “mandates” from the people to “usurp” legislative authority and codify traditional ethnic rivalries and animosities.

  • This leads back to authoritarianism and the traditional conflicts that typified the pre-democratic state.


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