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Classical liberal democratic theory

(Project Report)

Submitted To:

Dr. AnitaSamal, Faculty, Dept. Of Political Science

Submitted by:

Taruna Shandilya

Roll No.-180

Section B

Semester- I. B.A.L.LB.

Hidayatullah National Law University, Post Uparwara,

Abhanpur, New Raipur – 493661 (Chhattisgarh)


I, _Taruna__Shandilya__ hereby declare that, the project work entitled, ‘CLASSICAL

LIBERAL THEORY OF DEMOCRACY’ submitted to H.N.L.U., Raipur is record of an
original work done by me under the able guidance of Dr. Anita Samal , Faculty Member,
H.N.L.U., Raipur.


ROLL NO. 180

Section B




Thanks to the Almighty who gave me the strength to accomplish the project with sheer hard
work and honesty. This research venture has been made possible due to the generous co-
operation of various persons. To list them all is not practicable, even to repay them in words
is beyond the domain of my lexicon.
This project wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my teacher Anita Samal,
Faculty, Dept. of Political Science at HNLU, who had always been there at my side whenever
I needed some help regarding any information. She has been my mentor in the truest sense of
the term. The administration has also been kind enough to let me use their facilities for
research work. I thank them for this.



ROLL NO. 180



1. Declaration…………………………………………………….2
2. Acknowledgements……………………………………………3
3. Contents……………………………………….…………...….4
4. Introduction……………….………..........................................5
5. Classical Liberal Democratic Theory...……………...…...……6
6. Advantages and disadvantages……………………………..…8
7. Objectives of study……………………………...…………….10
8. Scope of the study……….…………………………………....11
9. Methodology of the study.………..……………………..…....12
10. Organization of the study………………………………..…....13
11. Conclusion…………………………………………………….14
12. References………………………………….…………..…...…15


Democracy refers to a government based on political equality, i.e. consent is required of all
the individuals who form part of the political community. It is informed by the belief that all
the people are equally capable of, and have a stake making, collective decisions that shape
their lives. In a democracy, no one person’s opinion or interest is of more value than the

Democracy is an egalitarian form of government in which all the citizen of the country
determines the public policy, laws and the actions of their state together. Democracy requires
that all the people of the country should get equal opportunity to express their opinion.
Although no country has ever granted all its citizen the right to vote, most countries today
holds regular elections based on egalitarian principles i.e. Democratic Theory1.
ce the principle of ‘one person one vote’. It is based on the idea of the equal moral worth of
all individuals and against the exclusion of anyone from the political process.



Classical democracy is based on the polis, or city state of Athens Greece. This form
of democracy is portrayed as the only ideal system of popular participation. In this form of
democracy all the major decisions were made by the assembly to which all citizens belong
and officials are chosen by ballots to demonstrate that a microcosm of the citizenry
participated. It is same as Athenian democracy. The basic credentials for being democratic –
basis on political equality, popular sovereignty and majoritarianism – government by the
people and for the people. Its limitations as a model – limited citizenship, applicability for
modern mass society, dangers of populism.Democracy has its origins in Ancient Greece.
However other cultures have significantly contributed to the evolution of democracy such as
Ancient Rome, Europe, and North and South America. The concept of representative
democracy arose largely from ideas and institutions that developed during the European
Middle Ages and the Age of Enlightenment and in the American and French Revolutions.
Democracy has been called the "last form of government" and has spread considerably across
the globe. The right to vote has been expanded in many Jurisdictions over time from
relatively narrow groups (such as wealthy men of a particular ethnic group), with New
Zealand the first nation to grant universal suffrage for all its citizens in 18932.


Liberal democracy is a political ideology and a form of government in

which representative democracy operates under the principles of liberalism. It is characterised
by fair, free, and competitive elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation
of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of
an open society, and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties,
and political freedoms for all people. Liberal democracies are drawn upon a constitution,
either formally written or uncodified, to delineate the powers of government and enshrine
the social contract. After a period 20th century, liberal democracy became the predominant
political system in the world. A liberal democracy may take various constitutional forms: it
may be a constitutional republic (France, India, the United States) or a
constitutional (Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom) or a presidential system (Indonesia, the
United States), a semi-presidential system (France, Taiwan), or a parliamentary
system (India, Italy, the United Kingdom).

Liberal democracies usually have universal suffrage, granting all adult citizens the right
to vote regardless of race, gender or property ownership. Historically, however, some
countries regarded as liberal democracies have had a more limited franchise, and some do not
have secret ballots. There may also be qualifications such as voters being required to register
before being allowed to vote. The decisions made through elections are made not by all of the
citizens, but rather by those who choose to participate by voting.

The liberal democratic constitution defines the democratic character of the state. The
purpose of a constitution is often seen as a limit on the authority of the government. It
emphasises the separation of powers, an independent judiciary, and a system of checks and
balances between branches of government and the importance of state being a Rechtstate that
follows the principle of rule of law. Governmental authority is exercised only in accordance
with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established
procedure. Many democracies use federalism known as vertical separation of powers in order
to prevent abuse and increase public input by dividing governing powers between municipal,
provincial and national governments Blends elite rule with a significant measure of
participation. The virtues of elite rule – government by expects, educated are balanced
against the need for public accountability. Accountability strengthened by capacity of citizens
to exert direct influence on governments through the formation of interest groups. Liberal
democracies are therefore PLURALIST DEMOCRACIES.


 In modern politics there is a strange and perhaps unhealthy silence on the issue of
democracy – so broad is respect or it that it has been taken for granted.
 Protection against government Juvenal – ‘who will guard the guardians?’. The
right to vote was usually regarded as a means of protecting the individual against
over mighty government. Social contract theorists saw democracy as a way in
which individuals could check government power. Locke – believed there should
be no ‘taxation without representation’ – to limit franchise to property owners
would not qualify as democracy by 21st century standards however. Bentham and
universal suffrage – believed that each individual’s interests were of equal value.
 Political participation Rousseau and Mill – for R, democracy was a means
through which humans achieved freedom or autonomy. Individuals are free only
when they obey laws which they themselves have made. Therefore extolled the
virtues of active and continuous participation. This moves beyond idea of electoral
democracy however (“people of England are only free at the time of an election”).
M remained advocate of electoral democracy but believed participation was
beneficial to the individual and society: proposal of votes for women and extension
of the franchise to include all except illiterates on educational grounds. Creates
more balanced and harmonious society.
 Advantages for community Creates a sense of social solidarity by giving all
members a stake in the community – have a voice in the decision-making process.
Rousseau – general will. Similar reasons have inclined socialists and Marxists to
support democracy, albeit in the form of ‘social democracy’ – democracy is an
egalitarian3 force standing in opposition to any form of privilege. Therefore
democracy represents the community rather than individual.

Asserting, promoting


 Ordinary citizens are not competent to rule wisely in their own

interests – Plato – “philosopher kings” needed. Pareto – democracy no more than
foolish delusion – power always exercised by privileged minority: “two classes
appear – a class that rules and a class that is ruled”.
 Democracy the enemy of individual liberty – ‘the people’ is not a single
entity but a collection of individuals – ends up being tyranny of the majority – de
Tocqueville. Mill also believes that majoritarianism damages intellectual life by
promoting uniformity and dull conformism.
 The nature of the majority – democracy places power in those least qualified to
govern: uneducated masses. Gasset warned that the arrival of mass democracy led
to the overthrow of civil society and moral order. Paves4 the way for authoritarian
leaders who just appeal to base instincts of the masses. This is more directed at
participatory forms of democracy which place no check upon appetites of the
masses Talmon “totalitarian democracy”.

To prepare easy way


 To study the concept of Classical & Liberal Democracy as a whole.

 To deal with different aspects of Classical & Liberal Democracy.

 To understand democracy as a whole in brief.

 To study the merits and demerits of democracy.

 To study the scope, ways and organization of democracy.



Socialist, feminist and multicultural critiques as well as anti-race and anti-caste movements
draw attention to the presence of various structures of power and inequality in society. Since
these power structures affect the way people exercise their political freedoms and their ability
to influence collective decisions, removal of these structures becomes a concern for
democracy. That is, a democratic society is the basis for democratic political arrangements.
As the concept of equality expands from formal equality to include equality of opportunity
and equal treatment of culturally diverse communities, thus requiring a nation of difference,
the scope of democracy will widen.

Democracy conceived in this form, is of relevance to all spheres of human collective

life, be it the family, association, workplace, community or the nation. Within the framework
of the nation-state, the agenda of deepening democracy involves enhancing participation and
the devolution of power to regional and local levels. However, the principle of democratic
theory is relevant beyond the level of the nation-state as well. This model of democratic
theory is not meant to be an alternative to the nation-state but a system that complements
democracy at local and national levels.


This project report is based on descriptive methodology. Secondary resources have been

largely used to gather information and data about the topic. Books, newspaper, journals,

websites and articles etc are guided by faculty have been primarily helpful in giving this

project a firm structure.



This project is mainly divided into four sections :-

 Introduction : This section gives an overview of the topic “ Classical & Liberal

Democratic Theory”.

 Meaning : In this section, the meaning, definition, history etc of classical and liberal

democratic theory have been dealt.

 Comparison : This section solely deals with the difference between the Classical

forms of democratic theory and liberal forms of democratic theory.

 Advantages & Disadvantages: In this, the merits and demerits of Classical & Liberal

Democratic Theory has been explained.



At last I want to conclude that Democratic theory is NORMATIVE in character. It

evaluates or prescribes governmental conditions. Therefore, the assertions of
democratic theory cannot be "validated" in the same way, for example, as the claims
of Keynesian economic theory about the operation of the economy. However,
democratic theory rests on understandings of political facts and empirical theories of
human behaviour. If these assumed facts are shown to be in error or theories are
shown to be wrong, then support is undercut for belief in the value assertions.
The two school of thoughts: Procedural and substantive views of democracy
are at odds with each other.The unlimited majority rule of procedural democracy may
result in policies unfavourable to minorities. The imprecise standards of the
substantive perspective cannot adequately resolve whether policies are truly


 http://revisionworld.com/a2-level-level-revision/politics/democratic-theory
 http://bijugayu.blogspot.in/democracy-classical-and-
 Lippmann cited by Henry Beissel "Mutation or Demise: The Democratization of
Democracy" Living with Democracy
 Amartya Sen, (1999). "Democracy as a Universal Value". Journal of Democracy,
10.3, 3–17. Johns Hopkins University Press.
 Alain Gagnon, Intellectuals in liberal democracies: political influence and social
 Seyla Benhabib, Democracy and difference: contesting the boundaries of the political
 Ralph Miliband: Marxism and Politics (London: Oxford University Press,1977
 C.B. Macpherson: Democratic Theory: Essay in Retrieval 1975