Is liberal democracy the best model of democracy?

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In this essay there are a number of topics that I will consider and elaborate on. First of all I believe that it is useful to briefly state that democratic governments are preferable to non-democratic governments. After this I will outline what liberal democracy is and what it is supposed to achieve. Following this will be whether or not direct democracy is an alternative. After this will be criticisms levied on liberal democracy and why, starting with Karl Marx' critique and then an Anarchist's. Finally I will conclude whether liberal democracy is the best model of democracy and if not, which one is.

Although many famous political thinkers have disagreed on the concept of democracy itself, most will be consistent that any democratic system of government is better than a non-democratic system of government. I do not intend to put forward this argument because it is not required, but it is nevertheless good to state. Robert A Dahl in his book 'on democracy' gave a number of plausible reasons for this case.

Today liberal democracy can be found in almost all advanced capitalist societies and now extends, in one form or another, into parts of the former communist world and the developing world. An important question to ask in the light of this, is what is liberal democracy?

Liberal democracy is a form of representative and indirect democracy that operates through elections that in theory should allow all individuals within a sovereign nation state the right to choose who is to rule on their behalf. Liberal democracy came into existence with the emergence of the liberal state as well as law and order.

Its basis was upon the principle of limited government with checks and balances to ensure that individuals were protected from the state, such as an independent judiciary or a written constitution. Fundamental to liberal democracies is respect for freedom, rights (especially property rights), and civil liberties.

The 'democracy' part of liberalism is the notion of popular rule or consent, which is demonstrated through the act of voting. This idea or concept can be dated back to ancient Greece although they adopted direct democracy, and not everyone was considered eligible to vote. There are a number of conditions for liberal democracy to work.

Firstly there must be political equality and universal privilege of voting, i.e. 'one person one vote.' This means that no matter what gender, race, religion or economic status everyone abides by the principle of equality in elections.

Secondly elections must be open for all to view, be on a regular basis, and allow for strong competition. This means that everyone within a nation state is given the chance to observe elections and make an informed choice, or be able to form a political party to represent certain views and values and therefore compete in the elections.

The essence of liberal democracy is the ability by the citizens of a country to pressure politicians to respond to their demands. This means that politicians and political leaders are held accountable by the electorate and are restricted to setting the final agenda to how they desire or see fit because otherwise they risk losing support and therefore power.

Joe Schumpeter in his book 'Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy' stated liberal democracy as that "institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide means of a competitive struggle for the people's vote."

Not only does the electoral process affect the politics of a country. Interest groups or pressure groups allow individuals to come together when they share particular views or interests, so that they are able to exert pressure onto government to give into their demands. Competition or conflicts of interests in theory would be handled by government in relation to the number of members in each group and other important factors (and should therefore be fair). Other examples of plurality...
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