The concept of illiberal democracy is ambiguous. On the one hand, the term has recently been used to denote a special authoritarian type of representative democracy , in which politicians are elected by the people, but do not respect their basic political rights , but effectively restrict them. In this sense, the term was probably first used prominently in 1997 in an article in the political journal Foreign Affairs by Fareed Zakaria .
On the other hand, an illiberal democracy is classically understood as a system that meets all the institutional requirements of a democracy, including the necessary political freedoms, but in which the respective political majority makes its decisions at will, without (e.g. through a Constitution) to be bound by civil liberties and thus limited. Classical thinkers such as John Stuart Mill ( On Liberty , 1863) emphasized this danger of democracy becoming the tyranny of the majority and thus illiberal.
According to the political scientists Wolfgang Merkel , Hans-Jürgen Puhle , Aurel Croissant , Claudia Eicher and Peter Thiery , illiberal democracy is a type of defective democracy - alongside exclusive democracy, enclave democracy and delegative democracy. These types are not mutually exclusive: for example, several illiberal democracies in Eastern Europe were also delegative in the 1990s. The “defect” of illiberal democracy lies in the “dimension of the liberal rule of law and constitution”, particularly in the area of civil liberties. It is characteristic of an illiberal democracy that the government is democratically legitimized through free , general and fair elections , but it “ violates basic , human , freedom and civil rights” and does not respect the rule of law . In particular, the control of the executive and legislative branches is restricted by the judiciary . So there is no effective legal protection against legislation and government action, the binding effect of constitutional norms is low. This damages "the basic liberal principles of citizenship".
Causes and effects
Illiberal democracies can be found in all regions of the world. They can be found above all in states subject to democratization processes , whose political past knows no pluralism . Without this tradition of peaceful coexistence of different political ideas or of practiced democratic discourse, the actions of the democratically elected parties or heads of state restrict individual freedoms and fundamental rights. This can happen if the constitution of the state does not protect these freedoms or the regime overrides them. The reason for this is the assumption of the ruling group that they were authorized by the elections by the population to act as they see fit, regardless of existing laws, as long as they only hold elections regularly.
Often the political power is centralized , i. h., there is either no separation of powers , or various independent institutions of the Administration be resolved so that the government can exert direct influence on the levels of government. Another important feature is the lack of freedom rights, such as the opposition's freedom of expression and assembly. Furthermore, the public media are often controlled by the state and support the regime. Non-governmental organizations can be subject to restrictions or be banned entirely. Critics are harassed by bureaucracy, economic pressure or even violence. A characteristic of illiberal democracies: In fact, the political-thematic framing is shifted by polarizing positions.
The spectrum of illiberal democracies extends far: from those that can almost be considered liberal democracies to those that are more like dictatorships and that are sometimes classified as democratures . Examples can be found in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Many illiberal democracies emerged in the mid and late 1990s.
In a 2014 speech, Viktor Orbán , Prime Minister of Hungary , described his view of the future of Hungary as an illiberal democracy . In his interpretation of the illiberal state, Orbán does not fundamentally reject the values of liberal democracy, but neither does he regard them as a central element of state organization.
The following Eastern European countries are or have been designated as illiberal democracies:
- Albania after 1997
- Bosnia-Herzegovina under Alija Izetbegović 1990–1995
- Bulgaria until 2001
- Croatia under Franjo Tuđman 1992–1999
- Macedonia 1991-2006
- Montenegro under Milo Đukanović since 2006
- Romania under Ion Iliescu 1992–1995
- Russia under Vladimir Putin between 2000 and 2008 and again since 2012. Putin's presidency was interrupted by Dmitri Medvedev in the years 2008–2012, which, however, did not change the issue of illiberal democracy.
- Serbia and Yugoslavia under Slobodan Milošević 1993–2002
- the Slovakia under Vladimir Meciar in 1993 and 1996-97
- the Ukraine under Leonid Kravchuk and Leonid Kuchma 1991-2004
- Hungary under Viktor Orbán since 2010
- Poland since 2015
- Belarus until 1996, since then autocracy
Examples of illiberal democracies outside Europe:
- Argentina 1983, 1990-2000, 2001
- Bolivia 1983-2004
- Brazil 1990-2004
- Dominican Republic 1979–1980 and 1984–1999
- Ecuador 1985-87, 1991-95, 2001-04
- Guatemala 1996-2004
- Colombia 1978-2004
- Mexico (end of 2001)
- Peru 1980–1991 and 2001–04
- Philippines (end of 2001)
- Thailand (end of 2001)
- Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since 2002
- Venezuela 1989-1998
- Daniel A. Bell, David Brown, Kanishka Jayasuriya, David Martin Jones: Towards Illiberal Democracy in Pacific Asia. Macmillan, Basingstoke, Hampshire 1995.
- Siegfried F. Franke: The endangered democracy. Illiberal democracy - populism - Euroscepticism. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2017.
- Wolfgang Merkel : Defective Democracies. In: Wolfgang Merkel, Andreas Busch: Democracy in East and West. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt a. M. 1999, pp. 361-382.
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- Fareed Zakaria: The Rise of Illiberal Democracy. In: Foreign Affairs , November / December 1997. Online text
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- Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's Speech at the 25th Bálványos Summer Free University and Student Camp . July 30, 2014 .: “And so in this sense the new state that we are constructing in Hungary is an illiberal state, a non-liberal state. It does not reject the fundamental principles of liberalism such as freedom, and I could list a few more, but it does not make this ideology the central element of state organization, but instead includes a different, special, national approach. "
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- Peter H. Smith, Melissa R. Ziegler: Liberal and Illiberal Democracy in Latin America. In: William C. Smith: Latin American Democratic Transformations. Institutions, Actors, Processes. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester (W. Sussex) 2009, pp. 13-33, at p. 28.
- Peter H. Smith, Melissa R. Ziegler: Liberal and Illiberal Democracy in Latin America. In: William C. Smith: Latin American Democratic Transformations. Institutions, Actors, Processes. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester (W. Sussex) 2009, pp. 13-33, at p. 29.
- Wolfgang Merkel, Hans-Jürgen Puhle, Aurel Croissant, Peter Thiery (eds.): Defekte Demokratie. Volume 2: Regional Analysis. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2006, p. 16.