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I think it is worth being discussed in which sense western democracies today tend to be illiberal: As more and more economical power is concentrated in the hands of few, they tend to build their own political centralist networks to get states under control; as economical power is more concentrated, lobbying and corruption is easier to be done, so tendencies in western democracies from liberties to "safety"/"security" can be correlated with.

BST from de.wikipedia

According to the criteria suggested in the last paragraph, EU membership candidates and soon-NATO members like Albania, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina would be illiberal democracies (but not some other equally or more questionable states like Serbia), due to some really bizzare conclusions of the Freedom House. This makes no sense, and on the Freedom House article theres lot of talk of its bias, this bizzareness makes me inclined to think there is such a bias. The only common denominator for these countries is that they have large islamic populations, and thats blatant religious discrimination -- 03:11, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Illiberal vs FreedomhouseEdit

Some suggest a method of determining whether a regime is an illiberal democracy is by noting that "it has regular, free, fair, and competitive elections to fill the principal positions of power in the country, but it does not qualify as Free in Freedom House's annual ratings of civil liberties and political rights."

Is it possible to have regular free fair and competetive elections and NOT qualify as free when it comes to political rights in Freedom Houses ratings? From freedomhouses site: "Political rights enable people to participate freely in the political process, including the right to vote freely for distinct alternatives in legitimate elections, compete for public office, join political parties and organizations, and elect representatives who have a decisive impact on public policies and are accountable to the electorate. Civil liberties allow for the freedoms of expression and belief, associational and organizational rights, rule of law, and personal autonomy without interference from the state."

It seems to me like an illiberal democracy could be a state which ranks as free on Freedomhouses political rights rating, but partly free or non-free on civil liberties. The problem with that definition is...well...that no country match it. :) --Regebro 10:51, 19 December 2006 (UTC)


Not sure if I should tack my comment on here or put it in a new thread (apologies in advance if I've got it wrong). One thing jumped out at me as missing from that page - a democracy can be perfectly representative - the government comes in via a free election, has a mandate from the majority and sticks to it's election manifesto - while not being particularly liberal. It's possible to have a completely legitimate democractic government which ruthlessly persecutes minorities and ignores personal freedoms, just so long as the majority of people support them (via referenda or election result) - normally accounted illiberal behaviour. In the same sense, Monarchies can (and often have been) champions of political liberalism, without any contradiction. 14:05, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Careful on West referenceEdit

Recommendation: Be careful on using the term "West." In the U.S. and some other countries the term "West" has in recent years been co-opted to refer to the U.S. and nations that are viewed as being "like the U.S." (indeed this is in fact common in the U.S. news media). This seems to be the sense in which the article uses the term. Western nations (in the older, traditional sense) that Americans do not regard as "like them" generally take offense to this usage of the term (e.g. Latin American nations). If you notice the article on the "Western World" to which the article links uses a definition which conflicts with this article. As written using this terminology is at best POV (and at worst discriminatory). I'd recommend dropping the term "West" altogether since there really is not a good way to use it in a way that is relevant to the topic. --Mcorazao 05:21, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

Since it looks like this page is not under active development, I went ahead and modified the text myself according to this suggestion.
--Mcorazao 23:13, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

Explanitive IssuesEdit

Second Sentance: "However, the term is almost always used to denote a particularly authoritarian kind of representative democracy, in which the leaders and lawmakers are elected by the people but lack real liberties." Who lacks liberties, the leaders and lawmakers or the people? It's not just a grammar issue, this should really be explained in detail. --MulletManDan 20:18, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

I, too, have the same question. The rest of the article seems to imply that the people lack the liberties.—C45207 | Talk 08:03, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Liberal and Illiberal DemocracyEdit

As I understand it, Illiberal Democracy is not so much a type of governmental system as a label given by a few academics to categorise countries. There are two sides to debates on democracy:

  1. Political Theorists may advocate normative ideals such as "Deliberative Democracy", "Procedural Fairness" or "Substantive Fairness".
  2. Political Scientists compare states, governments and other social organisations in terms of how they work, and compare these.

From what I read, illiberal democracy fits well into the second category, but not into the first. Liberal Democracy, on the other hand, falls into both categories, with slightly different connotations in each. Therefore, when describing illiberal democracy in terms of its liberal counterpart, the article could be improved by making clear that illiberal democracy is not a coherent and espoused system of government. I don't know what others think about this, but if there is agreement here then I will look at exact changes. DavidCBrannan 13:10, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Defining "Illiberal"Edit

My dictionary (New World Dictionary, 2nd Ed.) defines "illiberal as an archaeic word. Wikipedia does not define this word. I am unfamiliar with the word and strongly suggest that we need to define it.

1. "Lacking a liberal education". 2. "Intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded". 3. "Stingy".

I propose definition #2 above for this article.

An illiberal democracy would be any democracy that have one of these three qualities associated with it?Raggz 23:25, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

You can read the the original 1997 article here: [1]Ultramarine 23:34, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
An "Illiberal Democracy" could be the sort of people's plebiscite imagined by Rousseau where all participate and by looking within themselves for the common good will automatically agree. According to him, failure to agree with everyone showed deviance from the ideal of the common good and could result in punishment. This means that minimal liberal freedoms were absent while rule by all continued. Needless to say, this vision has never been realised. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by DavidCBrannan (talkcontribs).

The examples used to illustrate the illiberal democracy have factual faults. Hong Kong has never been a state, never.

Illiberal by omission?Edit

The article states that an example of an illiberal democracy is one in which a government does not permit freedom of speech. What about a democracy in which a government fails to discipline citizens who attempt or succeed at suppressing other citizens' freedom of speech (e.g. by removing political campaign posters or by removing newspapers from paper racks rather than allowing them to be read)?

Hf ale email (talk) 00:00, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Illiberal Democracy DefinedEdit

If a Liberal Democracy emphasizes the individual liberties of people, an illiberal form of democracy does not. We can easily combine the definition of "illiberal" with the multitude of democratic governmental ideologies previously agreed upon. Indeed, we could even remove the phrases "intolerant" & "narrow-minded".

Illiberal Democracy- An intolerant, or narrow-minded democracy in which individual liberties may not be protected if the majority of its citizens or representatives choose to pass a referendum to restrict or ban such liberties.

Why this is being disputed is beyond me. Currently, America is the very much on the brink of becomming such a government. With 1st & 2nd amendment rights constantly being threatened and/or directly denied, we see this philosophy in action today.

JonasGreywofl (talk) 18:57, 20 October 2010 (UTC)JonasGreywolfJonasGreywofl (talk) 18:57, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Regarding definitionEdit

Does Zakaria ever specify if it's either an authoritarian regime with false (not free or fair) elections or elections that result in authoritarian parties winning or both? CartoonDiablo (talk) 18:29, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

Illiberal democracy and delegative democracyEdit

Does the Delegative democracy entry confirm that it is a synonymous for "illiberal democracy"? I am rather sure there was some kind of misunderstanding in identifying illiberal democracy with the delegative democracy, and it's clear reading the related article on Wikipedia and comparing it with what's written here e.g. «citizens are cut off from knowledge about the activities of those who exercise real power because of the lack of civil liberties»; which is also in contrast with every defition of delegative democracy I have found and know about, included the one at Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, I have no access to the reference given for such claim (Juan Carlos Calleros, Calleros-Alarcó,The Unifinished Transition to Democracy in Latin America), but I am almost sure that the context of that article should clarify that there is no ground to make such a definition "general" —I mean, it may be applied specifically to the status of democracy in Latin America where, maybe, such a "synonymous" is imagined since what is sold as delegative democracy is indeed in practice an illiberal democracy —but this is a totally different issue then.

For this reason, I have removed delegative democracy from the list, since it is confounding and clashes with the description of delegative democracy. I keep the rest of the list and the reference, since it's unclear if it refers to the whole list or rather only to the last item (delegative democracy). --Ittakezou0 (talk) 23:08, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

Singapore and Zimbabwe are authoritarian statesEdit

Singapore and Zimbabew are actually authoritarian regimes and not illiberal democracies.-- (talk) 11:42, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Illiberal Democracy and Pseudo-Democracy aren't the sameEdit

The Redirection of the term Pseudo-Democracy to this article is wrong. A Pseudo-Democracy is de facto a dictatorship or an oligarchy with a democratic façade an Illiberal Democracy is a Semi-Democracy. The German Democratic Republic was for example a Pseudo-Demoracy and Croatia under Franjo Tudjman was an Illiberal Democracy, but Tudjman was not a Dicttor like Erich Honecker.--Xerxes Ubico (talk) 20:17, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

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Hungarian Illiberalism according to Viktor OrbanEdit

According to Viktor Orban: The essence of illiberal democracy is the protection of Christian liberty - defined as freedom from sin. It is in opposition to both the Libertarian view of freedom (one’s freedom limited by the freedoms of others) and the Liberal view (one is free to act as pleased – Just Do It!).

In practice: In Old Europe, the labor used to have honor, man dignity, man and woman equality, family was the foundation of nation, the nation was the foundation of Europe and the states guaranteed the safety and security of citizens.

The New Europe –under construction- has abandoned its roots. Instead of its Christian foundation, now it’s building open societies without borders and morals. The European people became interchangeable with migrants, the family now can be defined as arbitrary cohabitation, concepts as “nation”, “national conscience”- and “belonging” are given negative connotations which are to be left in the past; the state is no longer guarantor of safety and security. Being a European in liberal Europe has no longer meaning – Germans became Inhabitants according to Angela Merkel.

Liberal Democracy developed into Liberal Non-democracy: Liberalism-YES!, Democracy-NO! In Western Europe the freedom of speech is lost to political correctness and outright censorship. The goal is to make Europe step over to the post-Christian and post-national era. In the past 100 years there was a competition between the communities organized on the principles of European Christianity and communities organized on principles that abandon that heritage. This political and intellectual competition had some positive effects as well, as it provided for the development of European high culture which is based not on denominational creeds, but on Christian forms of existence – like human dignity, family, nation and the religious communities.

In practice –according to Orban-, The Christian Democracy can not be Liberal as it is, per definition, Not Liberal, but Illiberal: The Liberal Democracy is for multi-culturalism, while the Christian Democracy prefers Christian culture.

The Liberal Democracy supports migration, while the Christian Democracy opposing it.

The Liberal Democracy supports variable models of family, while the Christian Democracy is based on the Christian model of family: children have One mother and One Father.

The Liberal Democracy supports the Gender Theory, while the Christian Democracy recognizes only two genders: Man and Woman.

ArpadGabor (talk) 12:01, 24 August 2019 (UTC)


While this article has insufficient sources in general, one of the worst unsourced chapters IMHO is that chapter on Hungary's Viktor Orbán, who is claimed to have promoted the concept of "illiberal democracy". There seems to be a huge confusion about the various meanings of "liberal" going on. Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party are no doubt "illiberal" in the sense that they are very conservative, promote extreme nationalism, strongly oppose immigration, oppose gay rights and gender equality etc. However, that is complete different from the "illiberalism" discussed in this article. Illiberalism in this case is the lack of characteristics associated with the liberal theory of the state; that there exists a rule of law and that the consent of people is the source of all political power.

Therefore, an "illiberal democracy" is a state where the democratic processes and the rule of law mean little. There might be free elections, but the results of these elections are meaningless as the consent to rule is ultimately sought from the "deep state", from the bureaucracy, the civil service, the intelligence community and the military. There might be a process of introducing and changing legislation, but this means little because the law is not administered equally or consistently by the judicial system. So, there might exist a very "liberal" state with openness to immigration, support for gay rights and gender equality, and yet in that state there might exist "illiberal" tendencies. For example, suppose an anti-immigration party won the elections by a landslide (and by the consent of the people, a liberal ideal) and then tried to enact harsh restrictions to immigration. What if the state bureaucrats would be very much opposed to these restrictions, and instead of complying with the new laws and restrictions, would defy them, would constantly challenge them in the courts and so on? Wouldn't that be an example of "illiberal democracy" par excellence?

I don't for a moment think that Orbán was referring to such a process. While it is certainly possible that Orbán's Hungary might eventually abandon the rule of law and the democratic principles, in this case he certainly meant that he wanted to introduce "illiberal" laws within the democratic system, while still upholding "the liberal principles of the state". JJohannes (talk) 01:01, 8 November 2018 (UTC)

I agree with most of the above statements, but I do not understand why do you think that Orbán promotes extreme nationalism and opposes gender equality? Borsoka (talk) 02:16, 25 August 2019 (UTC)

Proposals, Compo-1Edit

- The Tentative illustration section is written in a manner where there is a predisposition that illiberal democracies are the antagonistic version of liberal democracies. Rather, it should outline certain successes within Illiberal democracies particularly those seen in Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew

- An addition towards understanding how Illiberal democracies operate. This section could include the political economy of illiberal democracies (See article by Garry Jacobs "The Political Economy of Neoliberalism and Illiberal Democracy"). Furthermore, this section could go into more depth concerning how illiberal democracies rise and its strong association with populism. With populism being a key factor in illiberal democracies the relationship between these two concepts should be explored.

- Move the Orban section into the tentative illustration completely. Within the section Origin and Description-- it is quite well developed-- I believe the mentioning of Orban is introduced roughly and is not well developed.

Theodorechesterfield (talk) 14:06, 24 April 2019 (UTC)

hybrid regimeEdit

New article, please review it. Also, there is no article about electoral authoritarianismCarn !? 11:43, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

Proposed merge with Hybrid regimeEdit

The first sentence of the lead at Illiberal democracy lists "Hybrid regime" as a synonym. Either this is incorrect and should be fixed, or the articles should be merged. Based on a quick reading of both articles, it appears to me that they are indeed about the same subject. signed, Rosguill talk 19:09, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

I oppose on the ground that nowadays the term "illiberal democracy" is used more widespread and not necessarily are understood in that way that it would be analogous with any political system (and not necessarily "regime") that would be the "result of an incomplete democratic transition" as, it is defined in the other article. Here, hybrid regime, may just be one of the options possible, but not any means universal.(KIENGIR (talk) 23:49, 13 August 2019 (UTC))
From looking at the sources used at either article, particularly [2], it seems like there's some disagreement among academic RS as to whether these concepts are truly distinct. If the academic consensus leans toward hybrid regimes being a type of (or synonymous with) illiberal democracy, then the concepts should be covered as part of the same article. That source also cites sources that describe "illiberal democracy" and "electoral authoritarianism" as synonymous, which contradicts text currently included in Hybrid regime. signed, Rosguill talk 00:28, 14 August 2019 (UTC)
Well, we should wait until there is an academic consensus for this. In case there are also problems with the Hybrid regime article that also does not conclude us to merge based on what you said.(KIENGIR (talk) 01:06, 14 August 2019 (UTC))
  • Illiberal democracy is a form of defective democracy. "Hybrid regimes" includes both defective democracy and electoral authoritarianism. However, since this term is used by different researchers, their approaches to the definition of terms differ. The term "hybrid regime" is good in that it does not claim that democracy or autoritism is at the core of the political system. The term Sovereign democracy is connected with Taiwan and Russia, Guided democracy – with Indonesia and Russia. Each of the cited terms, although they are all close and borderline, has its own shades and specific meanings.
  • If you want to merge something somewhere, it would be more logical to include a newer and narrower term (illiberal democracy) in a wider and older term (hybrid regime).·Carn !? 14:50, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

I think to clarify the situation following quote of User:Abiyoyo is applicable: There are three different possible subjects of the article: term, concept, phenomenon.

  1. An article about a term is an article about a word; sources are needed primarily about the word. Since the term has meaning, the meaning of the term can be disclosed in the text of the article, but in order to justify the existence of the article, sources of the term (word) as such should be involved in the first place.
  2. An article about a concept is an article about its content in a thinking (speech, discursive) representation. A concept can be denoted by different, including “umbrella” terms, on the one hand, and capture in different ways phenomena (phenomena of the objective world) on the other. In this case, terminological diversity is acceptable.
  3. Articles about the phenomenon of the real world. Here we need sources primarily about the phenomenon, and the phenomenon can be grasped differently conceptually and terminologically.

In practice, all three types of articles usually coincide, but in complex cases they can vary.
So, articles guided, illiberal, defective democracy, hybrid regime and etc have huge overlapping at phenomenon level , some overlapping at concept level and completely different term level. This is "The topics are discrete subjects warranting their own articles" situation from WP:OVERLAP, is it?·Carn !? 15:50, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

  • Oppose, there appears to be nuance among terms. Polyison (talk) 11:50, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, this is an important topic, however demands a significant and systematic rewrite.

ArpadGabor (talk) 19:50, 23 August 2019 (UTC)

Return to "Illiberal democracy" page.