Essay Sample on Crisis of Liberal Democracy in Europe

Published: 2023-10-31
Essay Sample on Crisis of Liberal Democracy in Europe
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Democracy Europe
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 906 words
8 min read

Liberal democracy refers to a style of governance that follows the rule of law, ensuring the recognition, protection, and undeterred exercise of individual rights and freedoms. After the First World War, there was a crisis of liberal democracy across Europe. The most affected part was Eastern Europe, especially Turkey and Greece. They both belonged to the larger Ottoman Empire. As part of the losing faction in World War I, the Ottoman Empire found itself in a somewhat awkward situation where allies like France, America, and Britain sought to dismember the empire. The resulting struggle saw an enormous abuse of human rights and freedoms. The raging conflict led to the death of people in tens of thousands. Within two weeks, over 30,000 people of Greek and Armenian descent were murdered in two weeks.

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The conflict in Eastern and Southern Europe was majorly religious, and it was only fueled by foreign interests in the Ottoman Empire. As such, the rule of law and recognition of individual rights and freedoms were smoked through the window. The situation was dominated by atrocities and high levels of insecurity. There was tension in Europe between the different factions that had emerged from the World War. Germany and its losing friends on one side, and Britain with the winners on the other side still co-existed in Europe under tension. A dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire was a chance for the Allied Powers from the World War to show their might again. Therefore, this power struggle led to the new battleground, and not even the rule of law and regard for human freedoms could stop them from committing the atrocious acts.

Alliances kept on springing in Europe. Franco-Polish Alliance, the Little Entente, and Treaty of Lausanne, among others, continued creating the discomfort across the continent. An already bad situation was becoming worse. Therefore, the crisis of liberal democracy in European countries can be attributed to the raging differences between countries and the struggle for supremacy. Before 1923, there was a wave of armed conflict across Europe, as the continent sought to reorganize their territories. The treaties were being signed to help settle the issues diplomatically, but stability could only be achieved in the short term. The Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 was especially important in seeking stability, but that did not happen in the long term.

The breakdown of liberal democracy in Europe could not be attributed to one single factor or effect. After a preceding century of progress, stability and organization, Europe faced a great crisis. The thriving governance of the continent was overshadowed by the relentless conflict and violence that characterized the period after the First World War. The continent acted like one that was not ready for the new dispensation. The defeatist culture of Germany and the supremacy of France and Britain only helped accelerate the uneasy situation of different ideologies, exploitation of smaller nations, imperial impressions, and entry of the United States into the frame.

Attempts to resolve the differences and the bloody conflicts were centered on different agendas. Some of the issues of great concern included territorial revisionism and revolution. The events of the post-war period were not helped by the onset of the Great Depression that began in 1929. As such, the gains of stabilization that had been achieved between 1923 and 1929 faced a considerable challenge, and things started to break down once more. The empires were indebted, with inflation taking a toll on them. The compound events happening in the continent at the time only served to worsen the situation and create insurmountable challenges.

The conflict in Europe that broke the back of a stable region cannot be said to have been truly resolved in that period. The time gap between World War I and World War II only served to accelerate the tensions that build the platform for the latter. The European crisis of liberal democracy was invaded by the self-interests of individual countries. Between 1919 and 1933, the events that occurred precipitated the occurrence of WWII. However, some of the challenges tied to the crisis were partially resolved. The Ottoman Empire, being at the center of the crisis, needed to be handled the right way at that time. Therefore, The Lausanne Treaty resolved that issue. Through the treaty, borders of the modern Turkish Republic were defined, and the new country gave up the rest of the Ottoman Empire. That was the last blow thrown by Allied Powers in the concerted efforts dismembering the empire.

In the course of the conflict that involved armies and nations, the armed struggle did not spare the citizens of the affected regions. They were the targets of rival armies, being slaughtered mercilessly. The reason it is viewed as a breakdown in the liberal democracy of Europe is that human rights and freedoms were disregarded at the highest level. The people became collateral damage in a struggle of powers and authorities. Europe was disoriented from what it used to be and became a new place. Some people were disengaged from their past territories and placed in new borders. For instance, some Germans landed in Czechoslovakia, Italians were placed in Yugoslavia, and Turkey had to give up some of its nationals too. Such people were denied most of their freedoms, and they had no choice but to oblige. All this happened courtesy of power tensions and struggles.


Gerwarth, Robert. 2016. The Vanquished: Why The First World War Failed To End. 1st ed. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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