Illiberalism and fear: The crisis of political legitimacy in western liberal democracies

Natalie Doyle

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The notion of illiberalism has become increasingly influential in discussions surrounding the dysfunction of the party-based political systems of Western liberal democracies, which increasingly favor the election of populist anti-establishment gures, among them Donald Trump in the United
States and Viktor Orbán in Hungary. Illiberalism is now associated with the resurgence of right-wing conservative values, which appear extremist in light of the accelerated social change experienced by Western societies with respect to individual rights or cosmopolitanism. The Covid-19 pandemic and
the measures used by Western governments to respond to this presumed existential threat — lockdowns, surveillance technology, mask mandates, and vaccination mandates—have challenged this narrow understanding of illiberalism and highlighted its connection to the loss of legitimacy of
democratic politics, which is increasingly managed through a politics of fear. Illiberalism is the byproduct of the destabilization of Western societies (both culturally and economically) by
neoliberalism and concomitant attempts by elites to reassert their political authority over fragmented and scared populations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Illiberalism
EditorsMarlene Laruelle
Place of PublicationOxford UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780197639139
ISBN (Print)9780197639108
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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