An illiberal democracy, also called a pseudo democracy, partial democracy, low intensity democracy, empty democracy or hybrid regime, is a governing system in which, although elections take place, citizens are cut off from knowledge about the activities of those who exercise real power because of the lack of civil liberties.
It is not an 'open society'. There are many countries "that are categorized as neither "free" nor "not free," but as "probably free," falling somewhere between democratic and nondemocratic regimes. This may be because a constitution limiting government powers exists, but its liberties are ignored, or because an adequate legal constitutional framework of liberties does not exist.
The term illiberal democracy was used by Fareed Zakaria in a regularly cited 1997 article in the journal Foreign Affairs.
According to Fareed Zakaria, illiberal democracies are increasing around the world and are increasingly limiting the freedoms of the people they represent. Zakaria points out that in the West, electoral democracy and civil liberties (of speech, religion, etc.) go hand in hand. But around the world, the two concepts are coming apart. He argues that democracy without constitutional liberalism is producing centralized regimes, the erosion of liberty, ethnic competition, conflict, and war. He points out that Russia is democratic but because of Putin’s super presidency, illiberal. In order to solve this problem, Zakaria proposes that the international community and the United States must end their obsession with balloting and promote gradual liberalization of societies.