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Illiberal democracy and European integration

In 1992, the American International Relations (IR) scholar Francis Fukuyama argued that the end of the Cold War marked a victory for liberal democracy. He argued that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is no serious rival to liberal democracy and that only liberal democracy can fulfill human need for freedom and dignity.

Today is a good moment to look back to see how far Europe is from Francis Fukuyama’s prediction. Jan-Werner Müller suggests it is beyond question that Fukuyama was wrong. However, what is the ideological alternative to liberal democracy? China is rising, but are millions across the globe really dreaming the ‘Chinese Dream’? Maybe Putinism is a serious rival to liberal democracy? And what about the model of ‘illiberal democracy’ praised by the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and practices by the Polish Law and Justice party?

Müller concludes that various derivatives of illiberal democracy including Putin’s managed democracy should not be viewed as an ideological alternative to western liberal - and capitalist - democracy. Rather, - he suggest - ‘we are witnessing the spread of what might be called a dark shadow of democracy, a shadow that can resemble the real thing in many ways: populism.’

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European Culture and Politics

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