The Erosion of the Liberal Public Sphere

Recent studies of democratic erosion in comparative constitutional scholarship have not paid detailed attention to why and how the quality of the public sphere, as one indispensable underpinning of liberal democracy, has been challenged. This essay attempts to fill this gap. It argues that the inherent tension between the constraint and exercise of public power in the public sphere has been exacerbated in an era where the roles of government are much more difficult to define. Also, given that the public sphere is a highly organic body, any slight adjustment of the regulatory schemes can substantially influence its dynamics on the power relationship among multiple actors. This paper will use comparative evidence to identify three patterns of government intervention in the public sphere across the globe: right-based, institution-based, and political culture-based. This paper aims to add another analytical layer to the current discussion of democratic erosion and the public sphere.