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In this new study, Farrelly gives a critical examination of democracy as it is conceived and practiced in contemporary advanced liberal nations. The received wisdom on democracy is probelmatized through a close analysis of discourse in combination with critical theories of democracy and of the State. The central theme of the book is the paradox of pervasive reference to democracy as a legitimation of political action by liberal governments versus the converse weakening of actual democratic practice within the liberal world. Farrelly builds on the work of Fairclough and others to examine this paradox, developing a new critical concept of 'democratism' as an ideology that undermines the possibility of a more genuine democracy through political actors who oversimplify the idea of democracy.The book argues for a recasting of democratic discourse and practice and includes critical analysis of key political texts taken from presidential and prime ministerial speeches from the US and UK that attach democracy to non-democratic practices; from UK election manifestoes through which political parties seek a democratic mandate whilst simultaneously seeming to construct a version of democracy that excludes the people; and from comparative research in Europe what shows alternative discourses which, though still problematic, highlight the contingency of liberal accounts of democracy.