This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this article by introducing citations to additional sources.Find sources: "Democratic liberalism" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (April 2019)

Democratic liberalism aims to reach a synthesis of democracy which is the participation of the people in power and liberalism, a political and/or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual.[1] It arose after World War I (with most major nations enacting universal suffrage) and its main question was how to get the population involved and interested in politics outside of elections.

The British Liberal Democrats describe their ideology as giving "power to the people" as they are against the concentration of power in unaccountable bodies. They propose decentralisation of power out of Westminster and electoral and parliamentary reform to create a system of tiered government structures to make decisions at what they see as the right level, including regional assemblies, the European Union and international organisations. The Liberal Democrats want to protect civil liberties and oppose state intervention in personal affairs. In his Democratic Liberalism: The Politics of Dignity, Craig Duncan says:

One important question concerns whether to have a direct democracy (in which citizens themselves propose and vote on laws) or a representative democracy (in which elected offices perform these functions). To a large extent this question is settled by pragmatic considerations (direct democracies are better suited to small city-states than to today’s large nationstates), but a dignity-based case is not wholly silent here. I do not believe that the demands of dignity require direct democracy, for to say that citizens are competent beings capable of responsible choice is not to say they are all competent to judge the various issues requiring political attention, from taxes to defense to education to the environment and so on. A representative democracy instead, and more accurately, presumes citizens are first and foremost competent to choose leaders who are themselves competent at judging these issues. This is not to say that the ideal of direct democracy has no relevance, however. Since in fact many private citizens do have competent knowledge of a variety of issues, especially those that directly implicate their interests, a representative democracy should also create significant space for citizen input into its deliberative practices (via open hearings and other public forums, say).


  1. ^ "Liberalism". Retrieved 5 September 2018.