Democracy is a system in which citizens have access to government either by voting for representatives or through voting directly on any given issue. Here in the West, democracy and liberal are often associated with one another, but historically the two ideologies are not interwoven. According to Fareed Zakaria’s essay, “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” the concept of liberalism and the push for democracy may have occurred simultaneously, but the two are not meant to be linked to one another. While democracy has to do with the process used in choosing our government, liberalism is connected to the government’s objectives. It focuses on individual rights that everyone is entitled to. These “natural rights” cannot be taken away by the government, but rather, the government has a duty to protect and uphold them.
Since the mid-twentieth century, Western nations have incorporated liberalism into the fabric of democracy, making it difficult to separate the two. The presence of a multiparty system is greatly emphasized in a democratic society because of the perception that more options equate to a greater control one has over the system, which goes back to the values of liberalism. So, democracy does not lead to liberalism, but the implementation of goals and concepts associated with liberalism can lead to democracy.
In a democratic nation, politicians must win the masses to be elected. In theory, this process makes sense, however, in practice minorities in countries that lack multiethnic groups will be at a disadvantage. Politicians can gain support by dividing the people based on their ethnicity and beliefs. In this system, minorities will be excluded from participating in government and may become victims in their countries. Democracy without liberalism can lead to a dangerous and divisive society. In recent decades, the practice of illiberal democracy has been growing and it is up to the people to challenge the system and make sure that their elected officials are not limiting their rights.