“Illiberal Democracies” in Europe: an authoritarian response to the crisis of liberalism

Our sense in editing this book is that the years since 2014 have shown that, however unpalatable, incoherent, and internally contradictory illiberal democracy may be, it is a political choice that is available at the ballot box in many countries. As critical scholars committed to democracy we have an obligation to understand its socio-historical construction, its emotional appeal, and its rhetorical force, to more effectively combat it. Ultimately, we believe that the difficulty many have had of admitting the political efficacy of illiberal democracy as a term is due to an underlying crisis within liberalism itself: this is the fissured terrain that the phenomenon exploits. Examining illiberalism, liberalism, or democracy as static concepts is just as barren an approach as examining them in one country in isolation from their interactions with others. It is above all to the dynamic, comparative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of liberalism and its alternatives that this collection aims to contribute. Institute fo European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University