Liberalism & Democracy: How Compatible?


Liberalism & Democracy: How Compatible?


  • Legitimises the power of those in charge
  • Provides consent
  • The people can be a restraint on the state
  • Political representation
  • Assists pluralism
  • Civil liberties
  • Educational purposes
  • Promotes individual self-development
  • Allows conflicting interests to be resolved peacefully
  • Promotes social harmony & stability


  • Collectivist
  • "Tyranny of the majority"
  • Undermines individual sovereignty
  • May allow the state to get too big - permits state intervention
  • May limit economic freedom
  • May allow individuals to become too powerful / dictatorial
  • All power tends to corrupt


Early liberals were hostile to the idea of democracy. remember, not all forms of democracy are liberal (e.g. one-party states, totalitarian democracies, direct democracy) Modern liberals accept democracy, but have strict ideas on what is acceptable and what is dangerous. 


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