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Democratic tyranny

The western political system is a fusion of constitutional liberalism, established over many centuries, and modern mass democracy. But an increasing number of countries are choosing electoral democracy without liberalism

By Fareed Zakaria   December 1997

“Suppose the election is declared free and fair,” said Richard Holbrooke on the eve of the 1996 elections in Bosnia, and those elected are “racists or fascists, publicly opposed to peace. That is the dilemma.” Indeed it is-not just in the former Yugoslavia, but around the world. Democratically elected regimes routinely ignore constitutional limits on their powers and deprive their citizens of basic rights. From Peru to the Palestinian Authority, from Sierra Leone to Slovakia, from Pakistan to the Philippines comes the rise of a disturbing phenomenon in international life-illiberal democracy.

It has been difficult to recognise this problem. For…

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