What Is Legitimacy?
Legitimacy is the principle that a regime, institution or individual has a legitimate right to exercise power. Legitimacy is usually, though not always, bestowed through election, but the legitimacy of many political bodies can be disputed. It is a contestable term in that it is not always clear whether an institution is legitimate or not as we will show you using these UK and world examples that follow.
Legitimacy in the UK’s political bodies
– The House of Commons is legitimate because it is elected. However, many claim that the electoral college system is unfair and distorts political representation, so legitimacy can be challenged
– The House of Lords is arguable not legitimate because its members are not elected. However, it does have traditional authority and its political influence remains widely recognised
– UK government is legitimate because it is elected with a clear mandate to govern. However, every government in the UK has been elected with a minority of the popular vote, so we can challenge its legitimacy
– The power of the Prime Minister is legitimate because it is widely acknowledged that he/she is the supreme policy maker in the political system. However, there is no legal basis for prime ministerial power, so it could be said to lack legitimacy
Legitimacy can be challenged far more in other countries
– Regimes that seize power by force are not considered to be legitimate. This applies to the government of Cuba, where the communist party came to power after a civil war
– States which have one-party systems, such as China, lack democratic legitimacy even though they might receive widespread popular support
– States where democracy is considered to be a facade or ‘sham’ lack legitimacy, such as in Iran
– Hereditary monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, lack democratic legitimacy
Thank you very much for reading, please do tell us why the country you live in is legitimate/not legitimate?