Logo

What is a Liberal Democracy? (worksheet)

James Madison wrote of the "republican principle" in "Federalist 10." William Galston sees this concept as one of the foundations of liberal democracies. CREDIT: White House Historical Association (CC)

Political ideologies such as democracy, socialism, and fascism have flexible definitions that can depend on the government you are describing, the point in history, and the person who is explaining the term, among many other variables. For example, the type of socialism that was practiced in the Soviet Union in the 1950s is different than the current platform of the Socialist Party in France. Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs has gathered excerpts from archived lectures and articles so that students can analyze and build their own understanding of political ideology terms.


What is a liberal democracy? Is the United States considered a liberal democracy? Why aren't all democracies "liberal"? Students can explore these questions and more through Brookings Institution's William Galston's definition of liberal democracy in the excerpt and worksheet found attached.

Galston's full March 2018 talk on "Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy" can be found here.