CRF Blog

End-Times for Liberal Democracy?

by David De La Torre

In End-Times for Liberal Democracy?, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations interviews Yascha Mounk, a lecturer on political theory at Harvard University.

You identified a malaise with liberal democracy and the rise of “democratic illiberalism” several years ago. Do you see 2016 as an inflection point?

People have been growing more and more critical of our political system — not just of particular governments or institutions but of democracy itself — for a long time. It used to be that the average citizen was much wealthier than his or her parents had been. That’s no longer the case. It used to be that people felt that they had a real voice in government and that there were intermediary institutions to help translate their views into public policy. That too is less and less the case. That’s why, over the last twenty years, antisystem parties and movements, especially on the far right, have risen around the world.

Even so, it’s no exaggeration to say that 2016 was a watershed. First, it became obvious that these movements don’t just get 25 or 30 percent in the polls; they can win, as they did with Trump and Brexit. Second, it became clear that this is not just the problem of particular societies, but one that affects virtually every liberal democracy around the world. [more]