Defensive democracy

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Defensive democracy is the philosophy that members of a democratic society believe it necessary to limit some rights and freedoms, in order to protect the institutions of the democracy.



Israel implemented the principle of defensive democracy, the Basic Law of the Knesset (Section 7A) which determined that "candidate lists would not participate in elections if its goals or actions, expressly or by implication, would deny the existence of the state of Israel as a Jewish state or deny the democratic character of the state of Israel."

Various political science researchers[who?] have perceived Israel as a democracy defending itself mainly from social and security constraints with which the state of Israel has been dealing since its creation. During the first three decades of its existence, the state of Israel was completely surrounded by countries that did not recognize Israel's existence as legitimate. Through the years, concerns have been raised from within the Jewish majority in Israel that the Arab minority within the country, who consider themselves part of the Arab world, would cooperate with the neighboring countries in their struggle against Israel. This situation has often raised the issue of a self-defensive democracy on the agenda in Israel.

During the 1980s, the issue was heavily discussed in a different context – for the first time in Israel's history, an extreme right-wing Jewish party (Kach), who rejected the state's democratic character and the rights of the Arab minority within the country, won representation to the Israeli parliament in the 1984 elections to the Knesset. As a result, Israel's Supreme Court outlawed the party and did not allow it to run again in the 1988 elections on the basis that the party advocates racism.


Ten countries in Europe have outlawed Holocaust denial: France (Loi Gayssot), Belgium (Belgian Holocaust denial law), Switzerland (article 261bis of the Penal Code), Germany (§ 130 (3) of the penal code), Austria (article 3h Verbotsgesetz 1947), Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, and Poland (article 55 of the law creating the Institute of National Remembrance 1998).

Germany maintains a domestic intelligence service, the Verfassungsschutz, whose main purpose is to investigate parties which may violate the constitutional bans on working to end the democratic nature of the state (in particular far-right and Communist parties).

Republic of Korea (South Korea)[edit]

Learning from legislation of West Germany, National Assembly of Second Republic inserted Defensive Democracy in their Constitution in 1960. After that, Now in Sixth Republic, it remains in Constitution (§8(4) — esp. defensive democracy to prevent illegal parties) and has some procedures in other laws. The Constitutional Court of Korea is in charge of deciding if a party is illegal and therefore should be dissolved.

For the first time since the Constitutional Court of Korea was created, on November 2013, the Justice Ministry of Korea petitioned the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Unified Progressive Party, citing its pro-North Korean activities (see 2013 South Korean sabotage plot). On 19 December 2014, the Court ruled 8-1 that the Unified Progressive Party be dissolved. This ruling was quite controversial in South Korea.

Republic of China (Taiwan)[edit]

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the Republic of China clearly states that any political party whose purpose or behaviour threatens the existence of the Republic of China or constitutional order of liberal democracy is unconstitutional, and the Constitutional Court can dissolve it.

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