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Niall Ferguson: Liberal democracy will not survive the 21st century

Niall Ferguson

The following was adapted from remarks recently delivered on a Munk Debates podcast: “Be it resolved, liberal democracy will not survive the 21st century.”

“Although I regret it very much, I believe that liberal democracy as we know it won’t survive the 21st century.

If you look at Freedom House data, which covers nearly all the world’s countries, and you go back to 1997, about 45 per cent of countries were rated free, about 30 per cent were partly free, and about 25 per cent were not free. Those proportions haven’t really changed much in the past 20 years or so. And there are several countries that have clearly seen a decline in freedom in the past 10 years: Venezuela, Turkey, Hungary and Russia to name a few. One might argue that the United States is in severe danger of losing at least the liberal part of its democracy, because Donald Trump is one of those populist demagogues who’ve sprung up all over the democratic world in the past few years who certainly avow their commitment to people power, but are deeply illiberal in almost every way. They are illiberal on trade, they are illiberal on migration, they are illiberal even when it comes to the rule of law.”

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