Writers such as Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way reject the concept of an illiberal democracy, saying it only "muddies the waters" on the basis that if a country does not have opposition parties and an independent media, it is not democratic.  They argue that terms like "illiberal democracy" are inappropriate for some of these states, because the term implies that these regimes are, at their heart, democracies that have gone wrong. Levitsky and Way argue that states such as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Slobodan Milošević , Zimbabwe , and post-Soviet Russia , were never truly democratic and not developing toward democracy, but were rather tending toward authoritarian behavior, despite having elections (which were sometimes sharply contested). Thus, Levitsky and Way coined a new term to remove the positive connotation of democracy from these states and distinguish them from flawed or developing democracies: competitive authoritarianism . 
While NED ’s work around the world is guided by the belief that freedom is a universal human aspiration, we know that democracy cannot be achieved through a single election and need not be based upon the model of the United States or any other particular country. Rather, democracy evolves according to the needs and traditions of diverse political cultures. NED helps strengthen the bond between indigenous democratic movements abroad and the people of the United States – a bond based on a common commitment to representative government and freedom as a way of life.