What is Liberal Democracy? | Social Studies

January 25, 2016 thetasctest

To build from of your understanding of limited and unlimited governments and parliamentary systems of government, today we will take a look at another high emphasis topic on the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Social Studies subtest: liberal democracy.

When we break this term down into “liberal” and “democracy,” we see two separate ideas:

  • Liberal is a point of view that believes in new behavior and opinions, and rejects tradition when necessary.
    • It’s important to also understand liberalism, which is a worldview rooted in the ideals of liberty and equality.
  • Democracy is a system of government run by officials elected by the entire population.

Together, according to USLegal.com, a liberal democracy is a form of representative democracy that:

  • Holds fair elections
  • Operates under a separation of powers (sometimes has branches of government)
  • Protects civil rights and liberties

Sound familiar? That’s right. A liberal democracy is a limited form of government, where there are established and respected laws and restraints of power, and citizens elect representatives to lead the nation.

USLegal.com notes that a liberal democracy can operate under different constitutional forms, such as a:

  • Presidential system, as seen in the United States
  • Parliamentary system, as seen in Great Britain
  • Constitutional republic, as seen in Germany
  • Constitutional monarchy, as seen in Canada

Features of Liberal Democracy 

According to WiseGeek.org:

  • Liberal democracies prohibit majoritarianism – which is a political philosophy that rules by majority vote, even when it harms the minority.
  • Some liberal democracies have additional systems of referenda – or public votes – to give citizens a chance to overrule the decisions of elected representatives.
  • Liberal democracies allow all eligible citizens the right to vote, regardless of race, gender, or property ownership.
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