Illiberal democracy is a system of governance in which the citizens are kept in the dark about the conduct and activities of powerful officials in the government due to the absence of civil liberties. Despite the existence of democratic space in a country, the society becomes an “un-open” society. Such situations arise in cases where despite the existence of a democratic constitution that limits the powers of government, its liberties are not taken into consideration by the ruling class due to lack of strong constitutional legal framework.
Illiberal democratic regimes feel that they have the right to act in whichever way they feel is best provided that regular elections are held. Such governments may impose rules which interfere with the individual liberties such as: the freedom of assembly and speech, making it difficult for opposition forces to succeed in criticizing it (Zakaria 2007). There is a wide range of illiberal democratic governments. They range from those dictatorial governments to those governments that are nearly democratic.
An illiberal democracy regime can be determined through observing the nature in which the government carries its elections. If a government does not carry out regular, free, competitive and fair elections when filling its principle governance positions, then it can be classified as an illiberal democracy government according to the yearly freedom house ratings. Around the globe, democratically elected governments have gone beyond their limits and deprived their citizens their rights which are provided for in the constitution.
Countries such as the Philippines and Peru are some of the countries with illiberal democratic governments. According to Zakaria (2008), democracy that has no constitutional liberalism produces centralized governments, eroded liberty, conflicts, war and ethnic competition. There are a wide range of implications of liberalism to the foreign policy. First, it is a guarantee for humility. Although it can be easier for elections to be imposed on a country, it will be difficult to impose constitutional liberalism to a society.
Genuine democratization and liberalization is a process which is long-term and gradual in nature that an election acts as a step towards achieving its overall goal. Without the necessary precautions being taken, such an election can end up being a false step towards the process. This has prompted nongovernmental organizations together with various governments to put in place measures that are aimed at promoting constitutional liberalisms in countries which are in the process of becoming developed (Zakaria 2007).
National democracy endowment fosters independent labor unions together with political parties and also ensures that there are free markets. Independent judiciaries are funded by the USA through the International Development Agency but in the end, elections trump virtually everything. On the other hand, if elections are not held in a transparent way that promotes democracy, the incident should not be viewed as dictatorship but instead it should be taken as a mistake that has been committed.
Although fair elections form part of the virtues of effective governance, it should not be the only virtue that should be capitalized on. Other government yardsticks should be used in judging it. Such yardsticks include: civil, religious and economic liberties which form the basis of human dignity and autonomy. When a government extends these liberties to its people despite its limited democratic space, it cannot be categorized as a dictatorial government. Countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore provide their citizens with a better life of happiness in spite of the limited political freedom.
Countries such as China which have continued with repressive regimes offer their citizens more economic liberty and autonomy in their current forms than they have ever offered in their history. Despite the achievements that China has achieved for its citizens such as economic freedom, much still needs to be done to effect proper change towards full liberalizing democracy (Zakaria 2008, 200). Zakariah concludes with a recommendation that there is need for countries to change their system of governance through constitutionalism.
He says that when there is too much dependency on pure democracy, it affects transitional countries such that they lack constitutions which can be considered imaginative. Constitutionalism is a system of governance in which there are checks and balances which are meant to prevent stagnation and abuse of power by officials in governments. This is achieved through drafting a list of rights for the citizens and ensuring that they are given to people by putting in place proper structures to ensure that they are not neglected by authorities.
Various groups are also empowered to ensure that the officials observe the rule of law (Zakaria 2007). Just as an ambitious idea is made to counteract another ambitious idea, constitutions were made to cater for public passion and ensure effective governance. Despite its creation, most European countries at the moment have started looking at their constitutions suspiciously because of the wide range of rich unelected bodies that indirectly vote, do checks and balances and federal arrangements to both formal and informal constitution.
Such procedures which do not advocate for direct democracy are considered to be inauthentic because they muzzle the people’s voices (Zakaria 2008, 200). It is therefore important for any country to use the type of governance that suits them but should at the same time put the interests of its citizens ahead of any other issue. Bibliography Zakaria, F. 2008. The post-American world. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Zakaria, F. 2007. The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad. New York: