Like all PESCS, there are two types of Liberal Democracy:
1. Theoretical or Direct Democracy (DD)
2. Practical or Indirect Democracy (ID)
DD is a concept whereby all members of society take part in all aspects of decision taking in that society. While this may work in smaller communities, the larger a group or community becomes, the more difficult it is to include everyone’s opinion. In DD, there are also no restrictions as to who may take part in the decision taking. In other words, there are no age, citizenship or other restrictions. This is why DD is considered theoretical. Characteristics of ID
ID is the practical form of Liberal Democracy. ID has the following characteristics: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
8. 9. 10.
A Constitution and set of laws and principles democratically determined & equally applied Citizens with the right to vote & participating in all areas of governance A democratically elected leader or executive
A democratically elected law making body or legislature
An independent court system or judiciary with right to appeal decisions Open & transparent decision taking by all elected, appointed & hired officials Accountable governing institutions & remedies/redress for citizens’ complaints Regular elections for all public offices
Active political parties
Free, active, critical and competitive media & press
￼As you can see, IDs are citizen participation intensive (CPI). CPI means that all citizens must play an active role in their democracy. They must be well informed and well educated on all the issues in their democracy. For this reason, IDs are quite fragile and difficult to get started. Forms of Liberal Democracy
ID has three (3) major forms:
1. Prime Minister-Parliamentary Democracy: Executive and legislative functions are combined with the leader or “Prime Minister” coming from the party with the largest representation in the legislature. Prime Minister is the executive. A President or Constitutional and Limited Monarch Mr. A: MESCH
Separation of powers under the US Presidential System
Understanding Liberal Democracy
￼serves as a symbolic leader.
2. Presidential-Parliamentary Democracy: Some executive and legislative functions are combined with a Prime Minister and Committee of Ministers coming from the party in parliament with the largest representation. Citizens elect the President who serves as the executive. 3. Presidential Democracy: President is the executive and is elected by the citizens and independent of the legislature. Constitutional or Limited Monarchy
Each of these forms may have a Constitutional or Limited Monarchy. This system has developed in countries that were once ruled by an absolute monarch and dynasty. The monarch does not have any real power but remains a very important ￼The Parliamentary System in Canada
symbol of the Nation-State and national unity.
Countries that have a Constitutional or Limited Monarch include Great Britain, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Belgium. These countries went through a series of reforms in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries that transitioned their absolutist monarchs and gave more powers to the national legislatures to become Prime Minister-Parliamentary Democracies. Economic System
The economic systems most associated with ID Liberal Democracy are Social-Market (regular government participation in the economy and partnership with the private-sector) & Keynesian-Market (limited government participation in the economy and competition with the private-sector) forms of Capitalism. These mixed economic systems maximize and encourage economic choice, property rights and consumer choice with varying forms of government participation. Early Liberal Democracies
System of Government in Sweden
￼The Early Liberal Democracies (ELDs) include Great Britain, The Netherlands, Switzerland, the United States, and France. These ELDs began to adopt Liberal Democratic ideas earlier than other Nation- States. These ELDs were not full-blown Liberal ￼Comparing Presidential & Parliamentary Systems
Democracies from the start.
Slavery was legal in ELDs like Great Britain and the United States until the 19th century. The full legal rights of African-Americans were not guaranteed until the 1960s. France went through phases of absolutist monarchy and dictatorship until after World War II. France, Great Britain and The Netherlands all held colonies until the mid-20th century and restricted the rights of the citizens of those colonies. ￼Mr. A: MESCH 4
Understanding Liberal Democracy
￼All the ELDs restricted the rights of those who could vote, particularly women and non-property holders until the 20th century. Failed Liberal Democracies
Following World War I, during the “Inter-War Period” from 1918 – 1939, the first great experiment with Liberal Democracy took place. ELDs extended rights to women during this period. The collapse of the old dynastic empires after World War I led to the founding of new Nation-States like Germany, Italy, Austria and Czechoslovakia. These new Nation- States adopted Liberal Democratic forms of governance.
As mentioned above, IDs are CPI and require a high level of citizen participation and a history of democracy. This era saw two periods of economic instability that tested these new Liberal Democracies. People wanted stability and, as a result, strong Fascist and Communist leaders promised and provided this stability. Liberal Democracy was too complex and therefore failed. It is no coincidence that Fascist and Communist autocratic dictatorships became popular in Nation-States with little experience with democracy during the inter-war period from 1918 – 1939. The result of the failure of Liberal Democracies in this period was World War II and the Holocaust.
Success of Liberal Democracy
Following World War II, Liberal Democracy and Communism competed in a “Cold War” as the world’s dominant PESCS. It was argued that Liberal Democracies offered the freedom of choice while Communist countries offered equality. ￼￼Liberal Democracies were criticized as being too competitive, having quality of life and success linked to high income and being rife with inequality and racism. Communist countries were criticized as restricting the political and civil rights and penalizing ambition and innovation. A third form of quasi-PESCS emerged following World War II called “Social- Democracy”. Social Democracy has its roots in the 19th century and combines the respect for political and civil rights found in Liberal Democracies with the respect for economic, social and cultural rights found in Communism. Social Democracy is CPI and requires a partnership between the government and the Symbol of Social Democracy private sector when it comes to the general welfare of society. Communist countries like China and the USSR began a series of reforms in the 1980s & 1990s. The liberal “Glasnost” openness policies and “Perestroika” market reforms in the USSR and its satellite nations in Central & Eastern Europe led to a transition to Liberal Democracy symbolized by the “Fall of the Berlin Wall” in 1989. As a result, Liberal Democracy became the world’s dominant PESCS.