Demokrati: ”liberal” och ”illiberal”


  • Mats Lundström


Democracy: “liberal” and “illiberal” This essay critically discusses the use of the prefixes “liberal” and “illiberal” before the word “democracy”. It is claimed that there has been a “liberalization” of the concept of democracy in a double sense. Firstly, what has usually been called democracy (without a prefix) is now often referred to as “liberal democracy”. Secondly, defective democracies in which democratic freedoms and rights are restricted have been called “illiberal democracies”. This conceptual shift implies that the conventional distinction between democracy and liberal constitutionalism becomes blurred. Both democracy and liberalism have been drained of some of its core principles, and this has been exploited by authoritarian populists who oppose both. In an analysis of Robert Dahl’s conception of democracy, it is argued that it is misleading to call him a “liberal democrat”. According to Dahl, democratic freedoms and rights are internal to democracy as such, and should not be confused with liberal rights that are typical for liberal constitutionalism.