Liberal democracy and free will
by José Azel
Liberal democracy is a political system that is distinguished not only by free and fair elections but also by the rule of law, separation of powers, and the protection of our fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, religion, and property. Liberal democracies regard individual freedom as its fundamental value. However, a growing number of democratically elected regimes ignore the constitutional limits of their power, and routinely restrict the individual liberties of their citizens.
Scholars define these regimes as “illiberal” democracies, and wonder whether they reflect an innate authoritarianism present in a voter population lured by authoritarian leaders. Is there anything like an authoritarian voter?
Liberalism is a model of political and economic freedoms that often coincide with democracy, but liberalism is not explicitly linked to the practice of democracy. Liberalism exists theoretically and historically separate from the democracy. In addition, categorical definitions in this area can be cumbersome if we consider Sweden to have an economic system that restricts property rights, France has had a state monopoly on television, and England has an established religion.
On the eve of the Bosnian elections of 1996 that sought to restore civic life in that war-torn country, American diplomat Richard Holbrooke pointed out: “Suppose the elections are declared free and fair, and that the elect are racist , fascists and separatists… That’s the dilemma. ”
In Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban placed the concept of “illiberal” Democracy at the heart of his political aspirations. The goal of his party was to create a “illiberal” state that would not make liberalism the central element of State organization, but “instead include a different, special, national approach.” It rejected controls and balances, and promoted nationalism and separatism. Similarly, the Iranian parliament, which is elected more freely than most parliaments in the region, imposes severe restrictions on the individual liberties of citizens.
Clearly, elections in these regimes, and in others, are not as free and fair as in mature Western democracies, but they reflect popular participation in policy and support for the elect. Moreover, the range of “illiberal” democracies varies from the roughly liberal democracies to those that are almost open to dictatorships.
“Illiberal” democracies do not seem to be a transitional stage of democracy. Fareed Zakaria has pointed out that “few democracies ” illiberal “have matured in liberal democracies; And they often move towards an intensified ” iliberalismo “. Many countries are opting for governments that mix democratic electoral factors with “iliberalismo.” Western liberal democracies are not their model. Democratically elected “illiberal” governments presume to have the mandate to act as they deem necessary, as long as they make elections regularly. Constitutional liberalism can lead to democratic government, but electoral democracy does not necessarily lead to constitutional liberalism.
In his latest book, “21 Lessons for the 21st century,” Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari explores the liberal history and stresses that government authority ultimately derives from our free will expressed in our political sentiments and decisions. Argues that elections are always about human feelings and not human rationality. It provokes the reader to stress that there is ample evidence that some people are much more politically and economically knowledgeable than others. So, “if democracy were a matter of rational decisions, there would be no reason to give all equal rights as voters–or perhaps not even some kind of voting rights.”
Harari argues that elections are not about what we think, but about how we feel. Democracy rests on human sentiments derived from our mysterious free free. Our free free is the final source of authority, and although some are more knowledgeable than others, we all have free will. Consequently, we all have the right to vote.
Liberal democracy sees the individual as an autonomous agent by constantly making decisions based on sentiment. But “illiberal” movements can appropriate our feelings. Perhaps this explains the rise of “illiberal”democracies. Anaïs Nin writes it like this: “We do not see things as they are; We see them as we are. ” And I would add that we could be authoritarian voters.
“The opinions published here are the absolute responsibility of its author”
Dr. José Azel is currently dedicated to the in depth analyses of Cuba economic, social, and political state, with a keen interest in post Castro Cuba strategies as a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies (ICCAs) at the University of Miami and You have published extensively on Cuba related topics. Dr. Azel is author of Mañana in Cuba, The Legacy of Castroism and Transitional Challenges for Cuba, published in March 2010 and of Pedazos y vacios, a collection of poems he wrote as a young exile in the 1960s.
Dr Azel’s last book is “Freedom for newbies”