Liberalism : Government and Democracy

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  • Liberalism : Government and Democracy
    • Constitutionalism
      • Constitutionalism in a narrow sense is the practice of limited government brought about by the existence of a constitution. Constitutionalism in this sense can be said to exist when government institutions and political processes are effectively constrained by constitutional rules.
      • More broadly constitutionalism refers to a set of political values and aspirations that reflect the desire to protect liberty through the establishment of internal and external checks on government power.
      • It is typically expressed in support for constitutional provisions that establish this goal; notably a codified constitution, bill of rights, separation of powers, bicameralism and federalism or decentralisation. Constitutionalism is this a species of political liberalism.
    • Liberal Democracy
      • A liberal democracy is a political regime in which a ‘liberal’ committed to limited government is blended with a ‘democratic’ belief in popular rule.
      • Its key features are; the right to rule is gained through success in regular and competitive elections based on universal adult suffering.
      • Constraints on government imposed by a constitution, institutional checks and balances, and protections for rights.
      • While liberals view liberal democracy as universally applicable on the grounds that it allows for the expressions of the widest possible range of views and beliefs, critics have regarded it as the political expression of either western values or capitalist economic structures.
      • A vigorous civil society including a private enterprise economy, independent trade unions and a free press.
      • Its liberal features are reflected in a network of internal and external checks on government that are designed to guarantee civil liberty and ensure a healthy civil society.
    • The Liberal State
      • Liberals have traditionally believed that such protection can only be provided by a sovereign state, capable of restraining all individuals and groups within society. Freedom can therefore only exist ‘under the law’; as John Locke said ‘Where there is no law there is no freedom’.
      • In society we are in danger of becoming a licence to abuse another, each person can be said to be both a threat to, and under threat from, every other member of society. Our liberty requires that they are restrained from encroaching on our freedoms and in turn, liberty requires that they are safeguarded from us.
      • The liberal state : Liberals do not usually believe that a balanced society will simply develop naturally out of the free actions of individuals and voluntary associations. Liberals fear that free individuals may wish to exploit others, steal their property or even slavery if it's in their interests to do so. Or even break or ignore contracts for their own advantages.


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