Political freedom refers to the effects of various restrictions on the use of political power, notably by the government, possibly also by other entities having official or unofficial political power.
There is often a tendency to divide countries into only two classes, "free" and "non-free" countries. However, unless being in a utopian anarchy, governments always imposes various restrictions on the citizens and non-citizens in their controlled territories, although the extents and forms varies.
Liberty and Ancient Rome
Liberty is a related word. The word derives from the Latin "liber" meaning "free", "non-slave", related to the Greek "eleutheria". In Ancient Rome, "libertas" was a characteristic or right of Roman citizens, which did not extend to other groups, such as slaves and foreign non-citizens. Even for Roman citizens in the Roman Republic, this did not include equal political rights, with, for example, certain political rights being explicitly based on the wealth of a citizen.
Universal human rights
Motivations and long-term effects
The stated motivations for various restrictions on political powers vary. Overtly or covertly, perceived utilitarian motivations, increasing the general average happiness of the whole population, may be common, although what is perceived to increase short-term average happiness is not necessarily what actually increases long-term average happiness. In some cases, restrictions may be seen as being in the self-interest of particular groups, with the interests of the general population seen as unimportant or less important. Some restrictions may be claimed to be based on "self-evident" rights, others to be based on rights of divine origin.
In some cases, restrictions on political powers may cause societies to be more successful, such as restrictions increasing freedom of speech regarding science and corruption by those having political and not political power and influence. In other cases, restrictions may possibly cause negative societal effects, such as regarding dysgenics.
Politically correct censorship and double standards
Even in countries having certain restrictions on, for example, censorship by the government, and stated equal treatment for all groups, there may be various forms of censorship and double standards regarding the treatment of different groups. See for example the articles on The Alt-Right and censorship, Affirmative action, and Double standard.