Liberal Democracy

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What is Liberal Democracy

Liberal Democracy is a type of democracy where:

  • protection of individual rights and liberties is emphasised. 
  • The rule of law is adhered to and the Govt is limited by enforceable consititutional laws. 
  • This is where the govt is limited by law by being scruntinised. 
  • Liberal democracy provides freedom of speech and protects rights, which prevents slavoury and torture. 
  • Liberal democracy can only exist in a capitalist economy. 
    • Therefore, Communist countries can not exist in one as they are ver controlling and would have Socialist economy.
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Is Britain a Liberal Democracy?

Britain is a Liberal Democracy because of:

  • Accountability. 
  • Free and fair elections. 
  • Legitimacy and the transfer of power.
  • Rights and liberties. 
  • Limited govt. 
  • Information.
  • Tolerence
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Britain is a liberal democracy due to its accountability:

  • Parliament forces the govt to be constantly accountable as they require all govt ministers to explain and justify their actions and accept critcisms. All ministers are required to go to Committees.
    • E.g The PMQs ensures that the PM is held to account- the leader of the opposition poses questions and the PM must answer. 
  • There is full reporting of the goings on in Parliament and in committees, through the BBC News, to ensure citizens are informed.
  • The media and Hansard (reports) if a form of accountability as it is a main source for the majority of the public in the UK, through the News, TV, radio, newspapers and online etc. 
  • The Freedom of Information Act is an example Liberal democracy.


  • Parliament does not have enough time, expertise or technical back up, to undertake accountability effectively. 
  • Also the PM, like other ministers, cannot answer a question in PMQs straight and avoids the actual answer. 
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Free and Fair Elections.

Britain is a liberal democracy due to its free and fair elections:

  • British elections are free corruption, even though there have been recent concerns over postal voting. 
  • The Independent Electoral Commission oversees elections ensuring that they are conducted honestly. 
  • All British citizens over the age of 18 (known as Universal Suffrage) have the right to vote and stand for office, unless disqualified for justified reasons. 
    • In 1948, Oxford and Cambridge students were able to have more than one vote. However this has since changed to everyone having 1 vote (No matter their occupation or school of study). 
    • The Representation of the People Act 1928 ensure political equality.
    • Representation of the People Act in 1969 lowered the voting age to 18. 
  • Free and fair elections also allows competition of power.
  • The media is free to print what they like. 
    • This is otherwise known as Social media, where the public are allowed to see different visions, opinions and interpretations.
    • This allows groups, such as PGs, to enjoy getting their voice heard. 


  • It has been argued that FPTP is undemocratic, many votes are wasted and there is political apathy and disillusionment. 
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Legitimacy and transfer of power

Britain is a liberal democracy due to its Legitimacy and transfer of power:

  • There is a high degree of acceptance of the results of elections and all mainstream parties accept the full legitimacy of govt.
  • There is little or no violence associated with the main political processes. 
  • The govt has the right to rule because they have a strong mandate.
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Rights and Liberties

Britain is a liberal democracy because of its citizens' Rights and liberties:

  • Britain is signed up to the European Convention of Human Rights and the Social Chapter of the EU. 
  • This guarantees employment and economic rights. 
  • Despite this, Parliament remains sovereign and can set these aside if it wishes. 
  • Govts retain control over rights and freedoms, as long as Parliament approves, due to royal provagative.


  • this means that a number of rights and freedoms have been set aside in times of national security, for example. 
  • This is worse than other democracies that have enteched, protected rights against govts. 
  • E.g. The USA has an entrenches constitution therefore their rights and freedoms are more known and protected. 
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Limited Government

Britain is a liberal democracy due to is Limited government:

  • Parliament is generally good at restraining the govt when they have attempted to exceed their traditional powers.
  • E.g. The HOC prevented the Govt from giving itself the power to imprison terrorist suspects for up to 90 days without trial, in 2005. (This was reverted in 2011 from 28 to 14).


  • The UK has has no written constitution and therefore, there are no fundamental laws that limit govt. 
  • Thus, the govt could do whatever it wants and the powers of the PM are rarely challenged.
  • The PM's powers are known as Royal Perogative where the Monarch passed their political and legislative powers to the PM. 
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Britain is a liberal democracy due to its Information:

  • There is little or no evidence, of the govt attempting to control information coming from the media. 
  • The British media are renowned for their investigate work and their political activism. 
  • This way the British citizens are exposed to a wide variety of independent political views. As opposed to Communist countries who do not allow the media to be politically independent, such as North Korea,
  • E.g. The Guardian newspapers has lots of articles on political avtivity in the govt and within the public.


  • The Govt have censored and manipulated news, in matters of warfare and national securitiy, but this is common in all democracies.
  • Also, althought TV and the radio are expected to remain politically neutral, the Newspapers are not. As a result, many newspapers project their own political views which the people reads and listens to. 
  • E.g. Rupert Murdoch regularly projects his own political view in his newspapers, especially his opposition to the EU.
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Britain is a liberal democracy due to its Tolerance:

  • Britain is admired for its tolerent politics and culture and how it is tolerent towards political groups and cultures.
  • All these groups are allowed to flourish and spread their beliefs and philosophies, as long as govt legitimacy has not been challenged. 


  • Tolerance has been under strain recently, due to the recent growing terrorist threats and increased incidence of immigration, immigration and asylum seeking. 
  • E.g. There has been the recent Syrian refugees that have been trying to get into Britain.
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