The question came to mind after reading this post and the reply it caused. I thought that the Turkish government functions as a democracy, but maybe I am missing something. In searching I found that Jimmy Carter thinks America is no longer a functioning democracy. I also found out that there are many democracies in the Middle East that I was unaware of. I failed in finding a specific definition for the term.
I suspect this term has no real specific definition that will allow categorization of one country’s democracy as functioning while another country’s democracy as not functioning.
I think in any specific instance its use is to criticize and nothing more. More broadly, I think it is used by those who wish to maintain the elite position of Western governments in the face of the spread of democracy throughout the world and particularly in the Middle East.
Going on this suspicion I think it is a term of true ignorance. A term that not only reflects a lack of awareness of how things are in this or that part of the world but a term that deliberately attempts to obfuscate its true purpose, which is to continue the trend of separating the good countries of the Earth from the bad countries.
Or maybe it is yet another academic term that has changed when used by laymen. Or maybe it is a very specific term and because I did not find its definition or am not a political scientist I am the ignorant one. So I thought I’d start this thread.