"A state is not a democracy if a vote results in the election of an authoritarian regime. If it is possible to win an election and then abolish - say - freedom of conscience / subsequent elections / press freedom etc, then the election has not taken place in a democratic state."He asks:
"So at which point does the state become authoritarian, if not at the point of the abolition of freedom of conscience etc. etc.? Is it not perfectly possible for a party to come into Westminster and decide to abolish elections, if they have a large enough majority and popular support?"As John isn’t the only one that finds this puzzling (see the comments under my post), perhaps there is a widespread view among the chattering classes that any country that has elections is a liberal democracy?
There’s a clue in the word ‘liberal’ here. One of the founding principles of liberal democracy is that there are rules that transcend the outcome of the election. That the winners can’t oppress minorities, that they can’t make wholesale constitutional changes in a short period of time without a convincing show of seeking the consent from a significant majority of the population. Different countries do this in different ways of course – we are getting into the pros and cons of a written constitution here – but it is often ‘two thirds majority’.
These constitutional issues are – in turn – subject to international scrutiny. In the case of the UK, membership of the EU would be at stake if particular liberties were repealed. Other countries are subject to diplomatic pressure, and so on.
But – and this is the important bit – if a party can win an election and then abolish key liberties, then it isn’t a liberal democracy and won't be accepted as such.
I thought this was widely understood, but apparently this isn’t the case.