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  • Legitimacy
    • What is Legitimacy?
      • Legitimacy is... 'The extent to which the political system enjoys the support of the population.'
      • Legitimacy differs to authority as it refers to political systems, not people in office.
      • Without legitimacy a state can only rule by using coercion
    • Factors promoting state legitimacy
      • Written constitution- This is the foundation for a good government as it sets out the rules in stone so they can't be changed easily. The US is a good example of this.
      • Elections- Free and fair elections promote state legitimacy as they give the people a wide choice of people who they want to elect into power. Free and fair elections are present in all liberal democracies.
      • Human rights- Human rights are needed for all citizens in a legitimate state, most states will have signed up to the European convention of human rights which guarantees human rights.
      • Freedom of press- This is needed as it allows the people to hold their government to account, proving its legitimacy.
      • Legal systems- This makes it possible to challenge the executive, if a government can't be challenged by the people it lacks legitimacy. Separation of powers in the US is a good example of this.
    • Factors that undermine state legitimacy
      • Unlimited government- An unlimited government gives them the power to do anything, without any limits on their power, this has no legitimacy as there is no system in place to scrutinise the government. Soviet Russia is an example of this.
      • Rigged elections- Rigged elections takes legitimacy away from a state as they're undermining the desire of the people, in any system all power should derive from the people. Northern Ireland was a good example of this.
      • Arbitrary rule- Ruling using coercion is not a sign of a legitimate state, without laws and only coercion a state cannot be deemed legitimate, like Uganda where arbitrary rule was used.
      • Ethnic divisions- Ethnic divisions lie in Northern Ireland during the troubles can undermine state legitimacy due to the level of instability that is caused by unrest.
    • States which have faced a crisis of legitimacy
      • Northern Ireland- After partition of Ireland the protestant majority could rule without opposition due to their numerical advantage over the Catholic minority. This eventually undermined state legitimacy and led to the troubles.
      • South Africa- In 1948 the white minority in South Africa introduced a set of laws aimed at segregating themselves from the black  majority. This was called Apartheid and undermined state legitimacy in South Africa.
      • Yugoslavia- The fall of communism had a major effect on Eastern Europe, primarily on Yugoslavia where a wave of ethnic tensions released into a bloody war, undermining state legitimacy..


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