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Exploring The Differences Between Liberal Democratic, Authoritarian And Totalitarian Political Systems

1742 words - 7 pages

Exploring the Differences Between Liberal Democratic, Authoritarian and Totalitarian Political Systems

Defining political systems is a difficult thing to do as no single
system is completely static, they often change dependant on things
like war and trends in regimes, such as the recent insurgence in
‘liberal democracies’ means that the classifications of systems
changes over time. The British Westminster system is considered to be
a ‘liberal democracy’ however in the Second World War there were
several powers exercised by the government which do not fit with this
type of system for example control was exercised over the media and
labour and elections were put off. These powers were only used as a
result of the emergency situation, seemingly with the support of the
masses and once the war was over the situation reverted to that of the
pre war era but this illustrate how it can be difficult to apply all
encompassing guidelines which finitely define a certain political
system. Taking this into consideration though it is still important to
have some level of classification in place so that the systems can
first of all be more easily understood and also so that they can be
assessed as to how effective they are and how they could be improved.

In order to consider the differences between three political systems:
‘liberal democratic’, ‘authoritarian’ and ‘totalitarian’ the
individual definitions must first be established then any similarities
and differences evaluated and finally the practical consequences of
these must be highlighted.

Liberal democracy is a very popular political system in modern times.
It has several defining attributes. Within a liberal democracy there
is more than one political party, the parties compete in regular
elections and all citizens have an equal vote. The citizens elect a
representative who will act on their behalf. There is a constitution
that regulates government, within the constitution the rights of the
individual are defined, these rights are very important; as a result
liberal democracies allow organised, voluntary groups, such as trade
unions and pressure groups which can operate independent of
government. There is at least a degree of seperation of powers as a
method of keeping the system in check with the constitution. Though
liberal democracy is an attempt to allow the masses the opportunity to
be decide on collective issues, by electing a representative to speak
for them the emphasise placed on civil liberties makes this
impractical: ‘the scope of democracy is limited by constitutional
protection of individual rights, including freedom of assembly,
property, religion and speech.’ Hague (2004: 35)

The current system in the UK is a liberal democracy.

Authoritarianism is the traditional system of most societies and still
exists in many...

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