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Liberal democracy, also referred to as Western democracy, is the combination of a
liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...

liberal
political ideology An ideology () is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group of persons, especially as held for reasons that are not purely epistemic, in which "practical elements are as prominent as theoretical ones." Formerly applied prim ...
that operates under an indirect democratic
form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...
. It is characterised by
elections An election is a formal group decision-makingGroup decision-making (also known as collaborative decision-making or collective decision-making) is a situation faced when individuals An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity. Ind ...

elections
between multiple distinct
political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective recipient of an award or honor, or a person seeking or being considered for some kind of position; for example: * to be elected to ...
, a
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
into different
branches of government Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
, the
rule of law The rule of law is defined in the ''Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal of the , published by (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a compreh ...

rule of law
in everyday life as part of an
open society Open society (french: société ouverte) is a term coined by French philosopher Henri Bergson in 1932 and describes a dynamic system inclined to moral universalism.Thomas Mautner (2005), 2nd ed. ''The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy'' Open soci ...
, a
market economy A market economy is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The ide ...
with
private property Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the prope ...
, and the equal protection of
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
,
civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights Rights are legal Law is a system of rules created and law enforcement, enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', ...
,
civil liberties Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments commit not to abridge, either by constitution, legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolled bill, enrolling, enactment of a bill, enacting, or promulgation, promulgat ...
and
political freedom Political freedom (also known as political autonomy or political agency) is a central concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas A mental representation (or cognitive representation), in philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch ...
s for all people. To define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

constitution
, either codified (such as in the United States) or uncodified (such as in the United Kingdom), to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the
social contract In moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...
. After a period of expansion in the second half of the 20th century, liberal democracy became a prevalent political system in the world.Anna Lührmann, Seraphine F. Maerz, Sandra Grahn, Nazifa Alizada, Lisa Gastaldi, Sebastian Hellmeier, Garry Hindle and Staffan I. Lindberg. 2020. Autocratization Surges – Resistance Grows. Democracy Report 2020. Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)

/ref> A liberal democracy may take various constitutional forms as it may be a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
or a
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
. It may have a
parliamentary system A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' an ...
, a
presidential system A presidential system, or single executive system, is a form of government in which a head of government (President (government title), president) leads an Executive (government), executive branch that is separate from the legislative branch in s ...
or a
semi-presidential system A semi-presidential system, or dual executive system, is a system of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, g ...
. Liberal democracies usually have
universal suffrage Universal suffrage (also called universal franchise, general suffrage, and common suffrage of the common man) gives the right to vote Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in public, political elections (a ...
, granting all
adult Biologically Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...

adult
citizens the right to vote regardless of
ethnicity An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of persons considered as a whole. Used in politics and law it is a term to refer to the collective or community of an ethnic group, a nation, to the public or ...
,
sex Sex is either of two divisions, typically male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot sexual r ...
, property ownership, race, age, sexuality, gender, income, social status, or religion. However, historically some countries regarded as liberal democracies have had a more limited franchise. Even today, some countries considered to be liberal democracies do not have truly universal suffrage as those in the United Kingdom serving long prison sentences are unable to vote, a policy which has been ruled a human rights violation by the
European Court of Human Rights The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR or ECtHR), also known as the Strasbourg Court, is an international court International courts are formed by treaties A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in intern ...

European Court of Human Rights
. A similar policy is also enacted in most of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
. According to a study by Coppedge and Reinicke, at least 85% of countries provided for
universal suffrage Universal suffrage (also called universal franchise, general suffrage, and common suffrage of the common man) gives the right to vote Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in public, political elections (a ...
. Many nations require positive identification before being allowed to vote. For example, in the United States 2/3 of states require their citizens to provide identification to vote. The decisions made through elections are made not by all of the citizens but rather by those who are members of the electorate and who choose to participate by
voting Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate Electorate may refer to: * The people who are eligible to vote in an Election#Electorate, election, especially their number e.g. the term ''size of (the) electorate'' * The dom ...
. The liberal democratic constitution defines the democratic character of the state. The purpose of a constitution is often seen as a limit on the authority of the government. Liberal democracy emphasises the separation of powers, an
independent judiciary Judicial independence is the concept that the judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or instit ...
and a system of checks and balances between branches of government. Liberal democracies are likely to emphasise the importance of the state being a ''
Rechtsstaat ''Rechtsstaat'' (lit. "state of law"; "legal state") is a doctrine Doctrine (from la, Wikt:doctrina, doctrina, meaning "teaching, instruction") is a codification (law), codification of beliefs or a body of teacher, teachings or instructions, ...
'', i.e. a state that follows the principle of
rule of law The rule of law is defined in the ''Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal of the , published by (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a compreh ...

rule of law
. Governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed
laws Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...

laws
adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedure. Many democracies use
federalism Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Maga ...
, also known as vertical separation of powers, in order to prevent abuse and increase public input by dividing governing powers between municipal, provincial and national governments (e.g. Germany, where the
federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, ...

federal government
assumes the main legislative responsibilities and the federated ''
Länder Länder (singular Land) or Bundesländer (singular Bundesland) is the name for (federal) states in two German-speaking countries. It may more specifically refer to: * States of Austria, the nine federal subdivisions of Austria * States of Germany, t ...
'' assume many executive tasks).


Origins

Liberal democracy traces its origins—and its name—to the European 18th-century, also known as the
Age of Enlightenment The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment); ger, Aufklärung, "Enlightenment"; it, L'Illuminismo, "Enlightenment"; pl, Oświecenie , "Enlightenment"; pt, Iluminismo, "Enlightenment"; es, link= ...
. At the time, the vast majority of European states were
monarchies A monarchy is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a ...
, with political power held either by the
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...

monarch
or the
aristocracy Aristocracy ( grc-gre, ἀριστοκρατία , from 'excellent', and , 'rule') is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: A ...
. The possibility of democracy had not been a seriously considered political theory since
classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, ...
and the widely held belief was that democracies would be inherently unstable and chaotic in their policies due to the changing whims of the people. It was further believed that democracy was contrary to
human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or wont as a humorous and formal term) is a routine of behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British ...

human nature
, as human beings were seen to be inherently evil, violent and in need of a strong leader to restrain their destructive impulses. Many European monarchs held that their power had been ordained by God and that questioning their right to rule was tantamount to
blasphemy Blasphemy is an insult that shows contempt, disrespect, or lack of Reverence (emotion), reverence concerning a deity, a sacred object, or something considered inviolable. Some religions consider blasphemy to be a religious crime. ...
. These conventional views were challenged at first by a relatively small group of Enlightenment
intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex; several different Critical thinking#Definitions, definitions exist, which generally includ ...
s, who believed that human affairs should be guided by
reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek ...
and principles of liberty and equality. They argued that all people are created equal and therefore political authority cannot be justified on the basis of "noble blood", a supposed privileged connection to God or any other characteristic that is alleged to make one person superior to others. They further argued that governments exist to serve the people—not vice versa—and that laws should apply to those who govern as well as to the governed (a concept known as
rule of law The rule of law is defined in the ''Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal of the , published by (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a compreh ...

rule of law
). Some of these ideas began to be expressed in England in the 17th century. There was renewed interest in Magna Carta, and passage of the
Petition of Right The Petition of Right, passed on 7 June 1628, is an English constitutional document setting out specific individual protections against the state, reportedly of equal value to Magna Carta ( Medieval Latin for "Great Charter of Freed ...

Petition of Right
in 1628 and Habeas Corpus Act in 1679 established certain liberties for subjects. The idea of a political party took form with groups debating rights to political representation during the
Putney Debates The Putney Debates were a series of discussions among the increasingly dominant New Model Army The New Model Army was a standing army formed in 1645 by the Roundhead, Parliamentarians during the First English Civil War, then disbanded afte ...
of 1647. After the
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, ...
s (1642–1651) and the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
of 1688, the
Bill of Rights A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against Civil and political rights, infringement fr ...
was enacted in 1689, which codified certain rights and liberties. The Bill set out the requirement for regular elections, rules for freedom of speech in Parliament and limited the power of the monarch, ensuring that, unlike much of Europe at the time,
royal absolutism Absolute monarchy (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme autocracy, autocratic authority, principally not being restricted by written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monar ...
would not prevail. This led to significant social change in Britain in terms of the position of individuals in society and the growing power of
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...
in relation to the
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...
. By the late 18th century, leading philosophers of the day had published works that spread around the European continent and beyond. One of the most influential of these philosophers was English empiricist
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
, who refuted monarchical absolutism in his ''
Two Treatises of Government ''Two Treatises of Government'' (or ''Two Treatises of Government: In the Former, The False Principles, and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, and His Followers, Are Detected and Overthrown. The Latter Is an Essay Concerning The True Original, ...
''. According to Locke, individuals entered into a
social contract In moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...
with a
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
, surrendering some of their liberties in exchange for the protection of their
natural rights Natural rights and legal rights are two types of rights. * Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture or government, and so are ''universal'', ''fundamental Fundamental may refer to: * Found ...
. Locke advanced that governments were only legitimate if they maintained the
consent of the governed Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. It is a term of common speech, with specific definitions as used in such fields as the law, medicine, research, and sexual relationships. Consent as understo ...
and that citizens had the right to instigate a rebellion against their government if that government acted against their interests. These ideas and beliefs inspired the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colo ...
and the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
, which gave birth to the ideology of
liberalism Liberalism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals ...

liberalism
and instituted forms of government that attempted to apply the principles of the Enlightenment philosophers into practice. Neither of these forms of government was precisely what we would call a liberal democracy we know today (the most significant differences being that voting rights were still restricted to a minority of the population and slavery remained a legal institution) and the French attempt turned out to be short-lived, but they were the prototypes from which liberal democracy later grew. Since the supporters of these forms of government were known as liberals, the governments themselves came to be known as liberal democracies. When the first prototypical liberal democracies were founded, the liberals themselves were viewed as an extreme and rather dangerous fringe group that threatened international peace and stability. The conservative
monarchists Monarchism is the advocacy of the system of monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. ...
who opposed liberalism and democracy saw themselves as defenders of traditional values and the natural order of things and their criticism of democracy seemed vindicated when
Napoleon Bonaparte Napoleon Bonaparte ; co, Napulione Buonaparte. (born Napoleone di Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) r ...

Napoleon Bonaparte
took control of the young
French Republic France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of severa ...
, reorganised it into the
first French Empire The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, also known as the Napoleonic Empire, was the empire ruled by Napoleon, Napoleon Bonaparte, who established French hegemony over much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th cen ...
and proceeded to conquer most of Europe. Napoleon was eventually defeated and the
Holy Alliance The Holy Alliance in 1840: The Holy Alliance (german: Heilige Allianz; russian: Священный союз, ''Svyashchennyy soyuz''; also called the Grand Alliance) was a coalition linking the monarchist great powers of Austria Aust ...

Holy Alliance
was formed in Europe to prevent any further spread of liberalism or democracy. However, liberal democratic ideals soon became widespread among the general population and over the 19th century traditional monarchy was forced on a continuous defensive and withdrawal. The
dominion The term dominion was used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other D ...

dominion
s of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
became laboratories for liberal democracy from the mid 19th century onward. In Canada, responsible government began in the 1840s and in Australia and New Zealand, parliamentary government elected by male suffrage and
secret ballot The secret ballot, also known as the Australian ballot, is a voting method in which a voter Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an Constituency, electorate, in order to make a collective decision making, decision or expres ...
was established from the 1850s and
female suffrage Women's suffrage is the women's rights, right of women to Suffrage, vote in elections. Beginning in the mid-19th century, aside from the work being done by women for broad-based economic and political equality and for social reforms, women sou ...
achieved from the 1890s. Reforms and revolutions helped move most European countries towards liberal democracy. Liberalism ceased being a fringe opinion and joined the political mainstream. At the same time, a number of non-liberal ideologies developed that took the concept of liberal democracy and made it their own. The political spectrum changed; traditional monarchy became more and more a fringe view and liberal democracy became more and more mainstream. By the end of the 19th century, liberal democracy was no longer only a "liberal" idea, but an idea supported by many different ideologies. After
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
and especially after
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, liberal democracy achieved a dominant position among theories of government and is now endorsed by the vast majority of the political spectrum. Although liberal democracy was originally put forward by Enlightenment liberals, the relationship between democracy and liberalism has been controversial since the beginning and was problematized in the 20th century. In his book ''Freedom and Equality in a Liberal Democratic State'', Jasper Doomen posited that freedom and equality are necessary for a liberal democracy. In his book
The End of History and the Last Man ''The End of History and the Last Man'' (1992) is a book of political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and th ...

The End of History and the Last Man
,
Francis Fukuyama Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama (, ; born October 27, 1952) is an American Political science, political scientist, Political economy, political economist, and writer. Fukuyama is known for his book ''The End of History and the Last Man'' (1992), which ...

Francis Fukuyama
says that since the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
, liberal democracy has repeatedly proven to be a fundamentally better system (ethically, politically, economically) than any of the alternatives, and that democracy will become more and more prevalent in the long term, although it may suffer "temporary" setbacks. The research institute
Freedom House Freedom House is a U.S.-based, U.S. government-funded non-profit non-governmental organization File:Europe in a suitcase - UK.jpg, upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience a ...
today simply defines liberal democracy as an electoral democracy also protecting
civil liberties Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments commit not to abridge, either by constitution, legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolled bill, enrolling, enactment of a bill, enacting, or promulgation, promulgat ...
.


Rights and freedoms

In practice, democracies do have limits on certain freedoms. There are various legal limitations such as
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

copyright
and laws against
defamation Defamation (also known as calumny, vilification, libel, slander, or traducement) is the oral or written communication of a false statement about another that unjustly harms their reputation and usually constitutes a tort A tort, in comm ...
. There may be limits on anti-democratic speech, on attempts to undermine
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
and on the promotion or justification of
terrorism Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of intentional violence to achieve political aims. The term is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the ...
. In the United States more than in Europe, during the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
such restrictions applied to
communists Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be ...

communists
. Now they are more commonly applied to organisations perceived as promoting terrorism or the incitement of group hatred. Examples include
anti-terrorism legislation Anti-terrorism legislation are law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environm ...
, the shutting down of
Hezbollah Hezbollah (; ar, حزب الله ', literally "Party of Allah" or "Party of God", also transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive ...
satellite broadcasts and some laws against
hate speech Hate speech is defined by the ''Cambridge Dictionary ''Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary'' 3rd Edition CD-ROM The ''Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary'' (unofficially ''Cambridge English Dictionary'' or ''Cambridge Dictionary'' ...
. Critics claim that these limitations may go too far and that there may be no due and fair judicial process. The common justification for these limits is that they are necessary to guarantee the existence of democracy, or the existence of the freedoms themselves. For example, allowing free speech for those advocating mass murder undermines the right to life and security. Opinion is divided on how far democracy can extend to include the enemies of democracy in the democratic process. If relatively small numbers of people are excluded from such freedoms for these reasons, a country may still be seen as a liberal democracy. Some argue that this is only quantitatively (not qualitatively) different from autocracies that persecute opponents, since only a small number of people are affected and the restrictions are less severe, but others emphasise that democracies are different. At least in theory, opponents of democracy are also allowed due process under the rule of law. However, many governments considered to be democratic have restrictions upon expressions, such as
Holocaust denial Holocaust denial is an antisemitic conspiracy theory that asserts that the Nazi genocide of Jews, known as the Holocaust, is a myth or fabrication. Holocaust deniers make one or more of the following false statements: *Nazi Germany's Final So ...
and hate speech, including prison sentences, ofttimes seen as anomalous for the concept of free speech. Members of political organisations with connections to prior totalitarianism (typically formerly predominant communist,
fascist Fascism () is a form of far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particular ...

fascist
or National Socialists) may be deprived of the vote and the privilege of holding certain jobs. Discriminatory behaviour may be prohibited, such as refusal by owners of public accommodations to serve persons on grounds of race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. For example, in Canada a printer who refused to print materials for the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives was fined $5,000, incurred $100,000 in legal fees and was ordered to pay a further $40,000 of his opponents' legal fees by the Human Rights Tribunal. Other rights considered fundamental in one country may be foreign to other governments. For instance, the constitutions of Canada, India, Israel, Mexico and the United States guarantee freedom from
double jeopardy Double jeopardy is a procedural defence (primarily in common law jurisdictions) that prevents an accused person from being Trial, tried again on the same (or similar) charges following an acquittal in the same jurisdiction. A variation in Civ ...
, a right not provided in other legal systems. Also, legal systems that use politically elected court jurors, such as
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...
, view a (partly) politicised court system as a main component of accountable government, distinctly alien to democracies employing
trial by jury A jury trial, or trial by jury, is a lawful proceeding in which a jury A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice h ...
designed to shield against the influence of politicians over trials. Similarly, many Americans consider the right to keep and bear arms to be an essential feature to safeguard the right to revolution against a potentially abusive government, while other countries do not recognise this as fundamental (the United Kingdom, for example, having strict limitations on the gun ownership by individuals). Overall, some rights are dependant on the country but the fundamental rights and freedoms shared by all liberal democracies can be summarised into eight necessary rights, which are: # Freedom to form and join organisations. # Freedom of expression. # Right to vote. # Right to run for public office. # Right of political leaders to compete for support and votes. # Freedom of alternative sources of information # Free and fair elections. # Right to control government policy through votes and other expressions of preference.


Preconditions

Although they are not part of the system of government as such, a modicum of
individual An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity An entity is something that exists as itself, as a subject or as an object, actually or potentially, concretely or abstractly, physically or not. It need not be of material existence. In ...
and
economic freedom Economic freedom, or economic liberty, is the ability of people of a society to take economic actions. This is a term used in economic and policy debate Policy debate is a form of debate competition in which teams of two advocate for and again ...
s, which result in the formation of a significant
middle class The middle class is a class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an an ...
and a broad and flourishing
civil society Civil society can be understood as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment ...
, are often seen as pre-conditions for liberal democracy (Lipset 1959). For countries without a strong tradition of democratic majority rule, the introduction of free elections alone has rarely been sufficient to achieve a transition from dictatorship to democracy; a wider shift in the political culture and gradual formation of the institutions of democratic government are needed. There are various examples—for instance, in
Latin America * ht, Amerik Latin, link=no * pt, América Latina, link=no , image = Latin America (orthographic projection).svg , area = , population = ( est.) , density = , ethnic_groups = , ethnic_groups_year = 2018 , ethnic ...

Latin America
—of countries that were able to sustain democracy only temporarily or in a limited fashion until wider cultural changes established the conditions under which democracy could flourish. One of the key aspects of democratic culture is the concept of a "
loyal oppositionIn parliamentary system A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ...
", where political competitors may disagree, but they must tolerate one another and acknowledge the legitimate and important roles that each play. This is an especially difficult cultural shift to achieve in nations where transitions of power have historically taken place through violence. The term means in essence that all sides in a democracy share a common commitment to its basic values. The ground rules of the society must encourage tolerance and civility in public debate. In such a society, the losers accept the judgement of the voters when the election is over and allow for the
peaceful transfer of power A peaceful transition or transfer of power is a concept important to democracy, democratic governments in which the leadership of a government peacefully hands over control of government to a newly-elected leadership. This may be after elections o ...
. This is tied to another key concept of democratic cultures, the protection of minorities (Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser, 2012), where the losers are safe in the knowledge that they will neither lose their lives nor their liberty and will continue to participate in public life. They are loyal not to the specific policies of the government, but to the fundamental legitimacy of the state and to the democratic process itself.


Liberal democracies around the world

Several organisations and political scientists maintain lists of free and unfree states, both in the present and going back a couple centuries. Of these, the best known may be the Polity Data Set and that produced by
Freedom House Freedom House is a U.S.-based, U.S. government-funded non-profit non-governmental organization File:Europe in a suitcase - UK.jpg, upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience a ...
and
Larry Diamond Larry Jay Diamond (born October 2, 1951) is an American political sociologist and leading contemporary scholar in the field of democracy studies. Diamond is a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, which is Stanf ...
. There is agreement amongst several intellectuals and organisations such as
Freedom House Freedom House is a U.S.-based, U.S. government-funded non-profit non-governmental organization File:Europe in a suitcase - UK.jpg, upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience a ...
that the states of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
with Poland and Hungary exception, United Kingdom, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, India, Canada, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Israel, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are liberal democracies, with India currently having the largest population among the democracies in the world. Liberal democracies are susceptible to
democratic backsliding Democratic backsliding, also known as autocratization and de-democratization, is a gradual decline in the quality of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form ...
and this is taking place or has taken place in several countries, including, but not limited to, the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
,
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...
and
Hungary Hungary ( hu, Magyarország ) is a in . Spanning of the , it is bordered by to the north, to the northeast, to the east and southeast, to the south, and to the southwest and to the west. Hungary has a population of 10 million, mostl ...
. Freedom House considers many of the officially democratic governments in Africa and the former Soviet Union to be undemocratic in practice, usually because the sitting government has a strong influence over election outcomes. Many of these countries are in a state of considerable flux. Officially non-democratic forms of government, such as single-party states and dictatorships, are more common in East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Most recently, the Freedom House 2019 report has noted a fall in the number of countries with liberal democracies, citing declines in 'political rights and civil liberties' over the 13 years from 2005 to 2018.


Types


Proportional vs. plurality representation

Plurality voting system Plurality voting is an electoral system in which a candidate, or candidates, who poll more than any other counterpart (that is, receive a plurality (voting), plurality), are elected. In a system based on single-member districts, it elects just ...
award seats according to regional majorities. The political party or individual candidate who receives the most votes, wins the seat which represents that locality. There are other democratic electoral systems, such as the various forms of
proportional representation#REDIRECT Proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical, and to ideolog ...

proportional representation
, which award seats according to the proportion of individual votes that a party receives nationwide or in a particular region. One of the main points of contention between these two systems is whether to have representatives who are able to effectively represent specific regions in a country, or to have all citizens' vote count the same, regardless of where in the country they happen to live. Some countries, such as
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...
and
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...
, address the conflict between these two forms of representation by having two categories of seats in the
lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community in Apache County *Chambers, Nebraska *Chambers, We ...
of their national legislative bodies. The first category of seats is appointed according to regional popularity and the remainder are awarded to give the parties a proportion of seats that is equal—or as equal as practicable—to their proportion of nationwide votes. This system is commonly called
mixed member proportional representation Mixed-member proportional representation (MMP or MMPR) is a mixed electoral system A mixed electoral system is an electoral system that combines a voting system using single-member districts with an element of proportional representation (P ...
.
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...
incorporates both systems in having the
preferential voting Preferential voting or preference voting (PV) may refer to different Electoral system, election systems or groups of election systems: * Ranked voting methods, all election methods that involve ranking candidates in order of preference (United Sta ...
system applicable to the
lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community in Apache County *Chambers, Nebraska *Chambers, We ...

lower house
and
proportional representation#REDIRECT Proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical, and to ideolog ...

proportional representation
by state in the upper house. This system is argued to result in a more stable government, while having a better diversity of parties to review its actions.


Presidential vs. parliamentary systems

A
presidential system A presidential system, or single executive system, is a form of government in which a head of government (President (government title), president) leads an Executive (government), executive branch that is separate from the legislative branch in s ...
is a
system of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...
of a
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
in which the
executive branch The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government that enforces law, and has Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. In political systems based on the principle ...
is elected separately from the
legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure ...
. A
parliamentary system A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' an ...
is distinguished by the executive branch of government being dependent on the direct or indirect support of the
parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...

parliament
, often expressed through a
vote of confidence A motion of no confidence, vote of no confidence, or no confidence motion, sometimes in the reverse as a motion of confidence or vote of confidence, is a statement or vote Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate E ...

vote of confidence
. The presidential system of democratic government has been adopted in Latin America, Africa and parts of the former Soviet Union, largely by the example of the United States.
Constitutional monarchies A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated el ...
(dominated by elected parliaments) are present in Northern Europe and some former colonies which peacefully separated, such as Australia and Canada. Others have also arisen in Spain, East Asia and a variety of small nations around the world. Former British territories such as South Africa, India, Ireland and the United States opted for different forms at the time of independence. The parliamentary system is widely used in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
and neighbouring countries.


Issues and criticism


Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie

Marxists Marxism is a method of socioeconomic Socioeconomics (also known as social economics) is the social science that studies how economic activity affects and is shaped by social processes. In general it analyzes how modern society, societies soci ...
,
communists Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be ...
, as well as some
socialists Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive pr ...
and
anarchists Anarchism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of ...

anarchists
argue that liberal democracy under is constitutively
class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an analytical concept used differently f ...
-based and therefore can never be democratic or
participatory Citizen Participation or Public Participation in social science refers to different mechanisms for the Public consultation, public to express opinions – and ideally exert influence – regarding political, economic, management or other social d ...
. It is referred to as
bourgeois Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguist ...

bourgeois
democracy because ultimately politicians fight only for the rights of the bourgeoisie. According to
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, M ...

Karl Marx
, representation of the interests of different classes is proportional to the influence which a particular class can purchase (through bribes, transmission of propaganda through mass media, economic blackmail, donations for political parties and their campaigns and so on). Thus, the public interest in so-called liberal democracies is systematically corrupted by the wealth of those classes rich enough to gain the appearance of representation. Because of this, multi-party democracies under capitalist ideology are always distorted and anti-democratic, their operation merely furthering the class interests of the owners of the means of production. The bourgeois class becomes wealthy through a drive to appropriate the
surplus-value In Marxian economics, surplus value is the difference between the amount raised through a sale of a product and the amount it cost to the owner of that product to manufacture it: i.e. the amount raised through sale of the product minus the cost ...
of the creative labours of the working class. This drive obliges the bourgeois class to amass ever-larger fortunes by increasing the proportion of surplus-value by exploiting the working class through capping workers' terms and conditions as close to poverty levels as possible. Incidentally, this obligation demonstrates the clear limit to bourgeois freedom even for the bourgeoisie itself. Thus, according to Marx parliamentary elections are no more than a cynical, systemic attempt to deceive the people by permitting them, every now and again, to endorse one or other of the bourgeoisie's predetermined choices of which political party can best advocate the interests of capital. Once elected, this parliament, as a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, enacts regulations that actively support the interests of its true constituency, the bourgeoisie (such as bailing out Wall St investment banks; direct socialisation/subsidisation of business—GMH, US/European
agricultural subsidies An agricultural subsidy (also called an agricultural incentive) is a government incentive paid to agribusiness Agribusiness is the business of agricultural production which involves the production, protection, sales and marketing of the produ ...
; and even wars to guarantee trade in commodities such as oil).
Vladimir Lenin Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. ( 1870 – 21 January 1924), better known by his alias Lenin,. was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as the first and founding head of government The head of government is e ...

Vladimir Lenin
once argued that liberal democracy had simply been used to give an illusion of democracy whilst maintaining the dictatorship of the
bourgeoisie Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguist ...

bourgeoisie
, giving as an example the United States's representative democracy which he said consisted of "spectacular and meaningless duels between two bourgeois parties" led by "multimillionaires".


Campaign costs

In Athenian democracy, some public offices were
random In common parlance, randomness is the apparent or actual lack of pattern A pattern is a regularity in the world, in human-made design, or in abstract ideas. As such, the elements of a pattern repeat in a predictable manner. A geometric p ...

random
ly allocated to citizens, in order to inhibit the effects of plutocracy. Aristotle described the law courts in Athens which were selected by lot as democratic and described elections as oligarchic. The cost of political campaigning in representative democracies favors the rich, a form of
plutocracy A plutocracy ( el, πλοῦτος, ', 'wealth' and , ', 'power') or plutarchy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical as ...
where only a very small number of wealthy individuals can actually affect government policy in their favor and toward plutonomy. Other studies predicted that the global trend toward plutonomies would continue, for various reasons, including "capitalist-friendly governments and tax regimes". They do, however, also warn of the risk that, since "political enfranchisement remains as was—one person, one vote, at some point it is likely that labor will fight back against the rising profit share of the rich and there will be a political backlash against the rising wealth of the rich." Liberal democracy has also been attacked by some
socialists Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive pr ...
as a dishonest farce used to keep the masses from realizing that their will is irrelevant in the political process. Stringent
Campaign finance Campaign finance, also known as election finance or political donations, refers to the funds raised to promote candidates, political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's electio ...
laws can correct this perceived problem. In 2006, United States economist
Steven Levitt Steven David Levitt (born May 29, 1967) is an American economist An economist is a practitioner in the social sciences, social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from econom ...
argues in his book ''
Freakonomics ''Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything'' is the debut non-fiction book by University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago, U of C, or Chicago) is a private research university in Chicago ( ...
'' that campaign spending is no guarantee of electoral success. He compared electoral success of the same pair of candidates running against one another repeatedly for the same job, as often happens in United States Congressional elections, where spending levels varied. He concludes: :A winning candidate can cut his spending in half and lose only 1 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, a losing candidate who doubles his spending can expect to shift the vote in his favor by only that same 1 percent. However, Levitt's response were also criticised as they miss the socialist point of view, which is that citizens who have little to no money at all are blocked from political office entirely. This argument is not refuted merely by noting that either doubling or halving of electoral spending will only shift a given candidate's chances of winning by 1 percent. On September 18, 2014, Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page's study concluded "Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism."


Authoritarianism

Authoritarianism is perceived by many to be a direct threat to the liberalised democracy practised in many countries. According to American political sociologist and authors
Larry Diamond Larry Jay Diamond (born October 2, 1951) is an American political sociologist and leading contemporary scholar in the field of democracy studies. Diamond is a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, which is Stanf ...
, Marc F. Plattner and Christopher Walker, undemocratic regimes are becoming more assertive, suggesting that liberal democracies introduce more authoritarian measures to counter authoritarianism itself, citing monitoring elections and more control on media in an effort to stop the agenda of undemocratic views. Diamond, Plattner and Walker uses an example of China using aggressive foreign policy against western countries to suggest that a country's society can force another country to behave in a more authoritarian manner. In their book 'Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy' they claim that Beijing confronts the United States by building its navy and missile force and promotes the creation of global institutions designed to exclude American and European influence; as such authoritarian states pose a threat to liberal democracy as they seek to remake the world in their own image. Various authors have also analysed the authoritarian means that liberal democracies use in order to defend economic liberalism and the power of political elites.


Media

Critics of the role of the media in liberal democracies allege that
concentration of media ownership Concentration of media ownership (also known as media consolidation or media convergence) is a process whereby progressively fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media Mass media refers to a diverse ...
leads to major distortions of democratic processes. In '' Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media'', Edward S. Herman and
Noam Chomsky Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gesture ...

Noam Chomsky
argue via their
Propaganda Model The propaganda model is a conceptual model A conceptual model is a depiction, representation of a system. It consists of concepts used to help people knowledge, know, understanding, understand, or simulation, simulate a subject the model represents ...
that the corporate media limits the availability of contesting views and assert this creates a narrow spectrum of elite opinion. This is a natural consequence, they say, of the close ties between powerful
corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the State (polity), state to act as a single entity (a legal entity recognized by private and public law "born out of statute"; a legal person in legal ...

corporation
s and the media and thus limited and restricted to the explicit views of those who can afford it. Furthermore, the media's negative influence can be seen in social media where vast numbers of individuals seek their political information which is not always correct and may be controlled. For example, as of 2017, two-thirds (67%) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news from social media, as well as a rising number of countries are exercising extreme control over the flow of information. This may contribute to large numbers of individuals using social media platforms but not always gaining correct political information. This may cause conflict with liberal democracy and some of its core principles, such as freedom, if individuals are not entirely free since their governments are seizing that level of control on media sites Media commentators also point out that the influential early champions of the media industry held fundamentally anti-democratic views, opposing the general population's involvement in creating policy.
Walter Lippmann Walter Lippmann (September 23, 1889 – December 14, 1974) was an American writer, reporter and political commentator. With a career spanning 60 years he is famous for being among the first to introduce the concept of Cold War, coining the ter ...
writing in ''
The Phantom Public ''The Phantom Public'' is a book published in 1925 by journalist Walter Lippmann Walter Lippmann (September 23, 1889 – December 14, 1974) was an American writer, reporter and political commentator. With a career spanning 60 years he is famou ...
'' (1925) sought to "put the public in its place" so that those in power would be "free of the trampling and roar of a bewildered herd" while
Edward Bernays Edward Louis Bernays ( , ; November 22, 1891 − March 9, 1995) was an American pioneer in the field of public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization ...
, originator of public relations, sought to "regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments their bodies". Furthermore, the notion that the media is used to indoctrinate the public is also shared by Yascha Mounk's ''The People Vs Democracy'' which states that the government benefits from the public having a relatively similar worldview and that this one-minded ideal is one of the principles in which Liberal Democracy stands Defenders responding to such arguments assert that constitutionally protected
freedom of speech Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philoso ...

freedom of speech
makes it possible for both for-profit and non-profit organisations to debate the issues. They argue that media coverage in democracies simply reflects public preferences and does not entail censorship. Especially with new forms of media such as the Internet, it is not expensive to reach a wide audience, if an interest in the ideas presented exists.


Limited voter turnout

Low voter turnout, whether the cause is disenchantment, indifference or contentment with the status quo, may be seen as a problem, especially if disproportionate in particular segments of the population. Although turnout levels vary greatly among modern democratic countries and in various types and levels of elections within countries, at some point low turnout may prompt questions as to whether the results reflect the will of the people, whether the causes may be indicative of concerns to the society in question, or in extreme cases the legitimacy of the electoral system.
Get out the vote "Get out the vote" or "getting out the vote" (GOTV) describes efforts aimed at increasing the voter turnout In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities tha ...
campaigns, either by governments or private groups, may increase voter turnout, but distinctions must be made between general campaigns to raise the turnout rate and partisan efforts to aid a particular candidate, party or cause. Several nations have forms of
compulsory voting Compulsory voting, also called mandatory voting, is the requirement in some countries that eligible citizens register and vote in elections. Penalties might be imposed on those who fail to do so without a valid reason. According to the CIA World ...

compulsory voting
, with various degrees of enforcement. Proponents argue that this increases the legitimacy—and thus also popular acceptance—of the elections and ensures political participation by all those affected by the political process and reduces the costs associated with encouraging voting. Arguments against include restriction of freedom, economic costs of enforcement, increased number of invalid and blank votes and random voting. Other alternatives include increased use of
absentee ballots An absentee ballot is a vote Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate, in order to make a collective decision or express an opinion usually following discussions, debates or election campaigns. Democracies elect hold ...
, or other measures to ease or improve the ability to vote, including
electronic voting Electronic voting (also known as e-voting) is voting Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate Electorate may refer to: * The people who are eligible to vote in an Election#Electorate, election, especially their nu ...

electronic voting
.


Ethnic and religious conflicts

For historical reasons, many states are not culturally and ethnically homogeneous. There may be sharp ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural divisions. In fact, some groups may be actively hostile to each other. A democracy, which by definition allows mass participation in decision-making, theoretically also allows the use of the political process against 'enemy' groups. The collapse of the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
and the partial
democratisation Democratization, or democratisation, is the transition to a more democratic political regime In politics, a regime (also known as "régime", from the original French spelling) is the form of government or the set of rules, cultural or social n ...
of Soviet bloc states was followed by wars in the former
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...

Yugoslavia
, in the
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe and Asia. It is situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (country), Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. It is home to ...
and in Moldova. Nevertheless, some people believe that the fall of communism and the increase in the number of democratic states were accompanied by a sudden and dramatic decline in total warfare, interstate wars,
ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously a ...

ethnic
wars,
revolutionary A revolutionary is a person who either participates in, or advocates a revolution In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with mak ...
wars and the number of
refugees A refugee, generally speaking, is a forced displacement, displaced person who has crossed national boundaries and who cannot or is unwilling to return home due to well-founded fear of persecution.
refugees
and displaced people (worldwide, not in the countries of the former sovietic bloc). However, this trend can be attributed to the end of Cold War and the natural exhaustion of said conflicts, many of which were fueled by the Soviet Union and the United States (see also the section below on majoritarianism and democratic peace theory). In her book '' World on Fire'',
Yale Law School Yale Law School (often referred to as Yale Law or YLS) is the law school A law school (also known as a law centre or college of law) is an institution specializing in legal education Legal education is the education of individuals in the ...
professor
Amy Chua Amy Lynn Chua (born October 26, 1962) is an American law professor and writer. She is the John M. Duff Jr. Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her expertise is in international business transactions, law and development, ethnic conflict, and glob ...
posits that "when free market democracy is pursued in the presence of a market-dominant minority, the almost invariable result is backlash. This backlash typically takes one of three forms. The first is a backlash against markets, targeting the market-dominant minority's wealth. The second is a backlash against democracy by forces favorable to the market-dominant minority. The third is violence, sometimes genocidal, directed against the market-dominant minority itself".


Bureaucracy

A persistent
libertarian Libertarianism (from french: libertaire, "libertarian"; from la, libertas, "freedom") is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and funda ...
and
monarchist Monarchism is the advocacy of the system of monarchy or monarchical rule. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government independent of any specific monarch, whereas one who supports a particular monarch is a royalist. One ...
critique of democracy is the claim that it encourages the elected representatives to change the law without necessity and in particular to pour forth a flood of new laws (as described in
Herbert Spencer Herbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was an English philosopher, biologist Francesco Redi, the founder of biology, is recognized to be one of the greatest biologists of all time A biologist is a professional who has speciali ...

Herbert Spencer
's '' The Man Versus The State''). This is seen as pernicious in several ways. New laws constrict the scope of what were previously private liberties. Rapidly changing laws make it difficult for a willing non-specialist to remain law-abiding. This may be an invitation for law-enforcement agencies to misuse power. The claimed continual complication of the law may be contrary to a claimed simple and eternal
natural law Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or ...
—although there is no consensus on what this natural law is, even among advocates. Supporters of democracy point to the complex bureaucracy and regulations that has occurred in dictatorships, like many of the former communist states. The bureaucracy in liberal democracies is often criticised for a claimed slowness and complexity of their decision-making. The term "
red tape Red tape is an idiom referring to regulations or conformity to formal wikt:rule, rules or wikt:standard, standards which are claimed to be excessive, rigid or redundant, or to bureaucracy claimed to hinder or prevent action or decision-making. I ...

red tape
" is a synonym of slow bureaucratic functioning that hinders quick results in a liberal democracy.


Short-term focus

By definition, modern liberal democracies allow for regular changes of government. That has led to a common criticism of their short-term focus. In four or five years the government will face a new election and it must think of how it will win that election. That would encourage a preference for policies that will bring short term benefits to the electorate (or to self-interested politicians) before the next election, rather than unpopular policy with longer term benefits. This criticism assumes that it is possible to make long term predictions for a society, something
Karl Popper Sir Karl Raimund Popper (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994) was an Austrian-British philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as tho ...

Karl Popper
has criticised as
historicism Historicism is an approach to explaining the existence of phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fun ...
. Besides the regular review of governing entities, short-term focus in a democracy could also be the result of collective short-term thinking. For example, consider a campaign for policies aimed at reducing environmental damage while causing temporary increase in unemployment. However, this risk applies also to other political systems.
Anarcho-capitalist Anarcho-capitalism is a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships between them. It ...
Hans-Herman Hoppe explained short-termism of the democratic governments by the rational choice of currently ruling group to over exploit temporarily accessible resources, thus deriving maximal economic advantage to the members of this group. He contrasted this with
hereditary Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of traits Trait may refer to: * Phenotypic trait in biology, which involve genes and characteristics of organisms * Trait (computer programming), a model for st ...
monarchy A monarchy is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a ...
, in which a monarch has an interest in preserving the long-term capital value of his property (i.e. the country he owns) counterbalancing his desire to extract immediate revenue. He argues that the historical record of levels of taxation in certain monarchies (20–25%) and certain liberal democracies (30–60%) seems to confirm this contention.


Majoritarianism

The
tyranny of the majority The tyranny of the majority (or tyranny of the masses) is an inherent weakness to majority rule Majority rule is a decision rule that selects alternatives which have a majority A majority, also called a simple majority to distinguish it f ...
is the fear that a direct democratic government, reflecting the majority view, can take action that oppresses a particular minority. For instance, a minority holding wealth, property ownership or power (see Federalist No. 10), or a minority of a certain racial and ethnic origin, class or nationality. Theoretically, the majority is a majority of all citizens. If citizens are not compelled by law to vote, it is usually a majority of those who choose to vote. If such of group constitutes a minority, then it is possible that a minority could in theory oppress another minority in the name of the majority. However, such an argument could apply to both
direct democracy Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which the Election#Electorate, electorate decides on policy initiatives without legislator, legislative representatives as proxies. This differs from the majority of currently estab ...
or
representative democracy Representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy, is a type of democracy where elected persons represent Represent may refer to: * Represent (Compton's Most Wanted album), ''Represent'' (Compton's Most Wanted album) or the title song ...
. In comparison to a direct democracy where every citizen is forced to vote, under liberal democracies the wealth and power is usually concentrated in the hands of a small privileged class who have significant power over the political process (see
inverted totalitarianism The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin coined the term inverted totalitarianism in 2003 to describe what he saw as the emerging form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generall ...
). Several ''de facto'' dictatorships also have compulsory, but not "free and fair" voting in order to try to increase the legitimacy of the regime, such as
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Yalu (Amnok) and Tu ...

North Korea
. Possible examples of a minority being oppressed by or in the name of the majority: * Those potentially subject to
conscription Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service Mili ...

conscription
are a minority possibly because of socioeconomic reasons. * The minority who are wealthy often use their money and influence to manipulate the political process against the interests of the rest of the population, who are the minority in terms of income and access. * Several European countries have introduced bans on personal religious symbols in state schools. Opponents see this as a violation of rights to freedom of religion and supporters see it as following from the separation of state and religious activities. * Prohibition of
pornography Pornography (often shortened to porn) is the portrayal of Human sexual activity, sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal.
is typically determined by what the majority is prepared to accept. * The private possession of various
weapons A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons are used to increase the efficacy and efficiency of activities such as hunting Hunting is the practice of se ...

weapons
(i.e. batons, nunchakus,
brass knuckles Brass knuckles (synonyms include: knuckles, knucks, brass knucks, knucklebusters, knuckledusters, knuckle daggers, an English punch, a paperweight, or a classic) are "fist-load weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device ...

brass knuckles
,
pepper spray Pepper spray, oleoresin capsicum spray, OC spray, capsaicin spray, or capsicum spray is a lachrymatory agent Tear gas, also known as a lachrymator agent or lachrymator (from the Latin ''lacrima'' meaning "tear"), sometimes colloquially k ...
,
firearm A firearm is any type of gun A gun is a ranged weapon designed to use a shooting tube ( gun barrel) to launch typically solid projectiles, but can also project pressurized liquid (e.g. water guns/ cannons, spray guns for painting ...
s and so on) is criminalized in several democracies (i.e. the United Kingdom, Belgium and others), with such criminalization motivated by attempts to increase safety in the society, to reduce general violence, instances of homicide or perhaps by moralism, classism and/or paternalism. * Recreational drug, caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol use is often or otherwise suppressed by majorities. In the United States, recreational drug use was popular in the United States throughout most of the 19th century. By century’s end,
drug abuse Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is the use of a drug in amounts or by methods which are harmful to the individual or others. It is a form of substance-related disorder Substance-related disorders, also known as substance use disord ...
became recognized as a significant social problem and source of concern for the public, which pressured the federal government to intervene legally. Beginning in the late 20th century, American drug policy was criticized for having potentially had racist, classist, religious, or paternalistic origins. * Society's treatment of
homosexuals Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction Sexual attraction is attraction on the basis of sexual desire or the quality of arousing such interest. Sexual attractiveness or sex appeal is an individual's ability to attract t ...
is also cited in this context. Homosexual acts were widely criminalised in democracies until several decades ago and in some democracies like Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Tunisia, Nigeria, Malaysia, Singapore they still are, reflecting the religious or sexual mores of the majority. * The Athenian democracy and the early United States had
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that give ...
. * The majority often taxes the minority who are wealthy at progressively higher rates, with the intention that the wealthy will incur a larger tax burden for social purposes. * In prosperous western representative democracies, the poor form a minority of the population and may not have the power to use the state to initiate redistribution when a majority of the electorate opposes such designs. When the poor form a distinct
underclass The underclass is the segment of the population that occupies the lowest possible position in a class hierarchy, below the core body of the working class. The general idea that a class system includes a population ''under'' the working class has ...
, the majority may use the democratic process to in effect withdraw the protection of the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
. * An often quoted example of the "tyranny of the majority" is that
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

Adolf Hitler
came to power by "legitimate" democratic procedures. The
Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, ...
gained the largest share of votes in the democratic
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933 when it functioned as a federal constitutional republic. The state was officially named the German Reich (german: Deutsches Reich, link=no, label=none), ...
in 1933. Some might consider this an example of "tyranny of a minority" since he never gained a majority vote, but it is common for a
plurality Plurality may refer to: Voting * Plurality (voting), the most votes for any choice in an election, but not necessarily a majority ** Plurality voting, system in which each voter votes for one candidate and the candidate with a plurality is elected ...
to exercise power in democracies, therefore the rise of Hitler cannot be considered irrelevant. However, his regime's large-scale human rights violations took place after the democratic system had been abolished. Furthermore, the
Weimar Constitution The Constitution of the German Reich (german: Die Verfassung des Deutschen Reichs), usually known as the Weimar Constitution (''Weimarer Verfassung''), was the constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A princ ...

Weimar Constitution
in an "emergency" allowed dictatorial powers and suspension of the essentials of the constitution itself without any vote or election. Proponents of democracy make a number of defenses concerning "tyranny of the majority". One is to argue that the presence of a
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

constitution
protecting the rights of all citizens in many democratic countries acts as a safeguard. Generally, changes in these constitutions require the agreement of a
supermajority A supermajority, supra-majority, qualified majority, or special majority is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level of support which is greater than the threshold of more than one-half used for a majority A majority, also call ...
of the elected representatives, or require a judge and jury to agree that evidentiary and procedural standards have been fulfilled by the state, or two different votes by the representatives separated by an election, or sometimes a
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct Direct may refer to: Mathematics * Directed set In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number th ...

referendum
. These requirements are often combined. The
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
into
legislative branch A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure ...
,
executive branch The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government that enforces law, and has Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. In political systems based on the principle ...
and
judicial branch The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government i ...
also makes it more difficult for a small majority to impose their will. This means a majority can still legitimately coerce a minority (which is still ethically questionable), but such a minority would be very small and as a practical matter it is harder to get a larger proportion of the people to agree to such actions. Another argument is that majorities and minorities can take a markedly different shape on different issues. People often agree with the majority view on some issues and agree with a minority view on other issues. One's view may also change, thus the members of a majority may limit oppression of a minority since they may well in the future themselves be in a minority. A third common argument is that despite the risks majority rule is preferable to other systems and the tyranny of the majority is in any case an improvement on a tyranny of a minority. All the possible problems mentioned above can also occur in nondemocracies with the added problem that a minority can oppress the majority. Proponents of democracy argue that empirical statistical evidence strongly shows that more democracy leads to less internal violence and mass murder by the government. This is sometimes formulated as Rummel's Law, which states that the less democratic freedom a people have, the more likely their rulers are to murder them.


Political stability

The political stability of liberal democracies depends on strong economic growth, as well as robust state institutions that guarantee free elections, the
rule of law The rule of law is defined in the ''Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal of the , published by (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a compreh ...

rule of law
, and individual liberties. One argument for democracy is that by creating a system where the public can remove administrations, without changing the legal basis for government, democracy aims at reducing political uncertainty and instability and assuring citizens that however much they may disagree with present policies, they will be given a regular chance to change those who are in power, or change policies with which they disagree. This is preferable to a system where political change takes place through violence. One notable feature of liberal democracies is that their opponents (those groups who wish to abolish liberal democracy) rarely win elections. Advocates use this as an argument to support their view that liberal democracy is inherently stable and can usually only be overthrown by external force, while opponents argue that the system is inherently stacked against them despite its claims to impartiality. In the past, it was feared that democracy could be easily exploited by leaders with dictatorial aspirations, who could get themselves elected into power. However, the actual number of liberal democracies that have elected dictators into power is low. When it has occurred, it is usually after a major crisis has caused many people to doubt the system or in young/poorly functioning democracies. Some possible examples include
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

Adolf Hitler
during the
Great Depression The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression An economic depression is a sustained, long-term downturn in economic activity in one or more economies. It is a more severe economic downturn than a economic recession, recess ...
and
Napoleon III Napoleon III (Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte; 20 April 18089 January 1873) was the first President of France The president of France, officially the President of the French Republic (french: Président de la République française), is t ...

Napoleon III
, who became first President of the
Second French Republic The French Second Republic (french: Deuxième République Française or ), officially the French Republic (''République française''), was the republican government of France that existed between 1848 and 1852. It was established in February 184 ...
and later Emperor.


Effective response in wartime

By definition, a liberal democracy implies that power is not concentrated. One criticism is that this could be a disadvantage for a state in
war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...

war
time, when a fast and unified response is necessary. The legislature usually must give consent before the start of an offensive military operation, although sometimes the executive can do this on its own while keeping the legislature informed. If the democracy is attacked, then no consent is usually required for defensive operations. The people may vote against a
conscription Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service Mili ...

conscription
army. However, actual research shows that democracies are more likely to win wars than non-democracies. One explanation attributes this primarily to "the transparency of the
polities A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between ind ...
, and the stability of their preferences, once determined, democracies are better able to cooperate with their partners in the conduct of wars". Other research attributes this to superior mobilisation of resources or selection of wars that the democratic states have a high chance of winning. Stam and
Reiter ''Reiter'' or ''Schwarze Reiter'' ("black riders", anglicized ''swart reiters'') were a type of cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldier ...
also note that the emphasis on individuality within democratic societies means that their soldiers fight with greater initiative and superior leadership. Officers in dictatorships are often selected for political loyalty rather than military ability. They may be exclusively selected from a small class or religious/ethnic group that support the regime. The leaders in nondemocracies may respond violently to any perceived criticisms or disobedience. This may make the soldiers and officers afraid to raise any objections or do anything without explicit authorisation. The lack of initiative may be particularly detrimental in modern warfare. Enemy soldiers may more easily surrender to democracies since they can expect comparatively good treatment. In contrast, Nazi Germany killed almost 2/3 of the captured Soviet soldiers and 38% of the American soldiers captured by North Korea in the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

Korean War
were killed.


Better information on and corrections of problems

A democratic system may provide better information for policy decisions. Undesirable information may more easily be ignored in dictatorships, even if this undesirable or contrarian information provides early warning of problems.
Anders Chydenius Anders Chydenius (; 26 February 1729 – 1 February 1803) was a Finnish Lutheran priest and a member of the Swedish Riksdag, and is known as the leading classical liberal Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a branch of liberali ...

Anders Chydenius
put forward the argument for
freedom of the press Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philosophy and religion, it is associated with having free will and being w ...
for this reason in 1776. The democratic system also provides a way to replace inefficient leaders and policies, thus problems may continue longer and crises of all kinds may be more common in autocracies.


Corruption

Research by the
World Bank The World Bank is an international financial institution An international financial institution (IFI) is a financial institution that has been established (or chartered) by more than one country, and hence is subject to international law. Its o ...
suggests that political institutions are extremely important in determining the prevalence of
corruption Corruption is a form of dishonesty Dishonesty is to act without honesty ''Diogenes Searching for an Honest Man'', attributed to J. H. W. Tischbein () Honesty or truthfulness is a facet Facets () are flat faces on geometric shapes. The org ...
: (long term) democracy, parliamentary systems, political stability and freedom of the press are all associated with lower corruption.
Freedom of information legislation Freedom of information laws allow access by the general public to data held by national governments and, where applicable, by state and local governments. The emergence of freedom of information legislation was a response to increasing dissatisfa ...
is important for
accountability Accountability, in terms of ethics and governance, is equated with answerability, blameworthiness, legal liability, liability, and the expectation of account-giving. As in an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to probl ...

accountability
and
transparency Transparency, transparence or transparent most often refer to transparency and translucency, the physical property of allowing the transmission of light through a material. They may also refer to: Literal uses * Transparency (photography), a sti ...
. The Indian
Right to Information Act The Right to Information (RTI) is an act of the Parliament of India which sets out the rules and procedures regarding citizens' right to information. It replaced the former Freedom of information act of 2002 (India), Freedom of Information Act, ...
"has already engendered mass movements in the country that is bringing the lethargic, often corrupt bureaucracy to its knees and changing power equations completely".


Terrorism

Several studies have concluded that terrorism is most common in nations with intermediate
political freedom Political freedom (also known as political autonomy or political agency) is a central concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas A mental representation (or cognitive representation), in philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch ...
, meaning countries transitioning from autocratic governance to democracy. Nations with strong autocratic governments and governments that allow for more political freedom experience less terrorism.


Economic growth and financial crises

Statistically, more democracy correlates with a higher gross domestic product (
GDP Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms were amputated, in the ...
) per capita. However, there is disagreement regarding how much credit the democratic system can take for this. One observation is that democracy became widespread only after the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
and the introduction of
capitalism Capitalism is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea o ...

capitalism
. On the other hand, the Industrial Revolution started in England which was one of the most democratic nations for its time within its own borders, but this democracy was very limited and did not apply to the colonies which contributed significantly to the wealth. Several statistical studies support the theory that a higher degree of economic freedom, as measured with one of the several
Indices of Economic FreedomA number of indicators of economic freedom are available for review. They differ in the methods by which they have been constructed, the purposes to which they have been put, and the conception of economic freedom Economic freedom, or economic liber ...
which have been used in numerous studies, increases
economic growth Economic growth can be defined as the increase or improvement in the inflation-adjusted market value of the goods and services produced by an economics, economy over time. Statisticians conventionally measure such growth as the percent rate of i ...

economic growth
and that this in turn increases general prosperity, reduces poverty and causes
democratisation Democratization, or democratisation, is the transition to a more democratic political regime In politics, a regime (also known as "régime", from the original French spelling) is the form of government or the set of rules, cultural or social n ...
. This is a statistical tendency and there are individual exceptions like Mali, which is ranked as "Free" by
Freedom House Freedom House is a U.S.-based, U.S. government-funded non-profit non-governmental organization File:Europe in a suitcase - UK.jpg, upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience a ...
, but is a Least Developed Country, or Qatar, which has arguably the highest GDP per capita in the world, but has never been democratic. There are also other studies suggesting that more democracy increases economic freedom, although a few find no or even a small negative effect. Some argue that economic growth due to its empowerment of citizens will ensure a transition to democracy in countries such as Cuba. However, other dispute this and even if economic growth has caused democratisation in the past, it may not do so in the future. Dictators may now have learned how to have economic growth without this causing more political freedom. A high degree of oil or mineral exports is strongly associated with nondemocratic rule. This effect applies worldwide and not only to the Middle East. Dictators who have this form of wealth can spend more on their security apparatus and provide benefits which lessen public unrest. Also, such wealth is not followed by the social and cultural changes that may transform societies with ordinary economic growth. A 2006 meta-analysis found that democracy has no direct effect on economic growth. However, it has strong and significant indirect effects which contribute to growth. Democracy is associated with higher human capital accumulation, lower
inflation In economics, inflation refers to a general progressive increase in prices of goods and services in an economy. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a r ...

inflation
, lower political instability and higher
economic freedom Economic freedom, or economic liberty, is the ability of people of a society to take economic actions. This is a term used in economic and policy debate Policy debate is a form of debate competition in which teams of two advocate for and again ...
. There is also some evidence that it is associated with larger governments and more restrictions on international trade. If leaving out
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
, then during the last forty-five years poor democracies have grown their economies 50% more rapidly than nondemocracies. Poor democracies such as the Baltic countries, Botswana, Costa Rica, Ghana and Senegal have grown more rapidly than nondemocracies such as Angola, Syria, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe. Of the eighty worst financial catastrophes during the last four decades, only five were in democracies. Similarly, poor democracies are half likely as nondemocracies to experience a 10 percent decline in GDP per capita over the course of a single year.


Famines and refugees

Prominent economist
Amartya Sen Amartya Kumar Sen (; born 3 November 1933) is an Indian economist and philosopher, who since 1972 has taught and worked in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom ( ...

Amartya Sen
has noted that no functioning democracy has ever suffered a large scale
famine A famine is a widespread scarcity of food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual con ...

famine
. Refugee crises almost always occur in nondemocracies. Looking at the volume of refugee flows for the last twenty years, the first eighty-seven cases occurred in autocracies.


Human development

Democracy correlates with a higher score on the
Human Development Index The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age, and ot ...
and a lower score on the human poverty index. Democracies have the potential to put in place better education, longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality, access to drinking water and better health care than dictatorships. This is not due to higher levels of foreign assistance or spending a larger percentage of GDP on health and education, as instead the available resources are managed better. Several health indicators (life expectancy and infant and maternal mortality) have a stronger and more significant association with democracy than they have with GDP per capita, rise of the public sector or income inequality. In the post-communist nations, after an initial decline those that are the most democratic have achieved the greatest gains in life expectancy.


Democratic peace theory

Numerous studies using many different kinds of data, definitions and statistical analyses have found support for the democratic peace theory. The original finding was that liberal democracies have never made war with one another. More recent research has extended the theory and finds that democracies have few militarized interstate disputes causing less than 1,000 battle deaths with one another, that those militarized interstate disputes that have occurred between democracies have caused few deaths and that democracies have few
civil wars A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publish ...
. There are various criticisms of the theory, including at least as many refutations as alleged proofs of the theory, some 200 deviant cases, failure to treat "democracy" as a multidimensional concept and that correlation is not causation.


Minimises political violence

Rudolph Rummel Rudolph Joseph Rummel (October 21, 1932 – March 2, 2014) was a political scientist and professor at the Indiana University, Yale University, and University of Hawaiʻi. He spent his career studying data on collective violence and war with a view ...
's ''Power Kills'' asserts that liberal democracy, among all types of regimes, minimizes political violence and is a method of nonviolence. Rummel attributes this firstly to democracy instilling an attitude of tolerance of differences, an acceptance of losing and a positive outlook towards conciliation and compromise. A study published by British Academy, on ''Violence and Democracy','' argues that in practice Liberal Democracy has not stopped those running the state from exerting acts of violence both within and outside there borders, the paper also argues that, police killings, profiling of racial and religious minorities, online surveillance, data collection, or media censorship are a couple of way in which successful states maintain a monopoly on violence.


The threat of populism

There is no one agreed upon definition of populism, with a broader definition settled upon following a conference at the London School of Economics in 1967. Populism academically faces criticism as an ideology with calls from Academics to abandon Populism as a descriptor due to its vagueness. It is typically not fundamentally undemocratic, but it is often anti-liberal. Many will agree on certain features that characterize populism and populists: a conflict between 'the people' and 'the elites', with populists siding with 'the people' and strong disdain for opposition and negative media using labels such as 'fake news'. Populism is a form of majoritarianism, threatening some of the core principles of liberal democracy such as the rights of the individual. Examples of these can vary from Freedom of movement via control on Immigration, or perhaps opposition to Liberal Social Values such as gay marriage. Populists do this by appealing to the feelings and emotions of the people whilst offering solutions- often vastly simplified- to complex problems. Populism is a particular threat to the liberal democracy because it exploits the weaknesses of the liberal democratic system. A key weakness of liberal democracies highlighted in 'How Democracies Die', is the conundrum that suppressing populist movements or parties can be seen to be illiberal. The nature of Populism is to appeal to the people against the 'elites' in an 'us against them' type mentality. As a result, Populist movements often appeal to the Working Class and Middle Classes as these are the demographics who form most of the population and are in a position to 'punch up' in society against the 'elite'. Moreover another reason why populism is a threat to Liberal Democracy is because it exploits the inherent differences between 'Democracy' and 'Liberalism'. Furthermore, for liberal democracy to be effective, a degree of compromise is required as protecting the rights of the individual take precedence if they are threatened by the will of the majority, more commonly known as a tyranny of the majority. Majoritarianism is so ingrained in the populist ideology that this core value of a liberal democracy is under threat. This therefore brings into question how effectively liberal democracy can defend itself from populism. Examples of populist movements can include the Brexit Campaign, 2016. The role of the 'elite' in this circumstance was played by the EU and 'London centric Liberals', while the Brexit campaign appealed to Working class industries, such as fighting, agriculture and industrial, who were worse off due to EU Membership. This case study also illustrates the potential threat Populism can pose a Liberal Democracy with the movement heavily relying on disdain for the media, this was done by labelling criticism of Brexit as 'Project Fear'.


See also

*
Constitutional liberalism Constitutional liberalism is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legi ...
* Democratic ideals *
Economic liberalism Economic liberalism (also known as fiscal conservatism in United States politics) is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other form ...
* Elective rights *
History of democracy A democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, genera ...
*
Illiberal democracy An illiberal democracy is a governing system in which, although election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public offic ...
* Index of politics articles *
Jeffersonian democracy#REDIRECT Jeffersonian democracy Jeffersonian democracy, named after its advocate Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father ...
*
Neoliberalism Neoliberalism, or neo-liberalism, is a term used to describe the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with free-market In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with valu ...

Neoliberalism
*
Republicanism Republicanism is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use ...
*
Social democracy Social democracy is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognit ...
*
Social liberalism Social liberalism (german: Sozialliberalismus, es, socioliberalismo) also known as New liberalism in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Brita ...


References


Further reading

* Ghasemi, Mehdi.
Paradigms of Postmodern Democracy
” Sage Open, 2019, April–June: 1–6. * Haas, Michael (2014). ''Deconstructing the 'Democratic Peace': How a Research Agenda Boomeranged''. Los Angeles, CA: Publishinghouse for Scholars. * Willard, Charles Arthur (1996). ''Liberalism and the Problem of Knowledge: A New Rhetoric for Modern Democracy''. University of Chicago Press. . . {{Liberalism Democracy Types of democracy