Legitimacy is a political concept which refers to the acceptance and recognition by the citizens of a country, the rights of their rulers to govern. A government is considered legitimate, if it comes to power through constitutional means. Elected government are legitimate. However, it is argued in some quarters that a military government can acquire legitimacy, through popular government policies.
FACTORS THAT DETERMINE LEGITIMACY
- Good/Reliable leadership: Legitimacy may be accorded a leader if he performs creditably in office.
- Good government: If the government policies are best intentioned, the people will continue to have trust and confidence in such governments. For example, in the areas of providing social amenities and infrastructure, maintenance of law and order and rule of law in place.
- Legitimacy through periodic elections: A free and fair election is a symbol of legitimacy and it registers the support of the people.
- Customs and tradition: Respect for the established customs and traditions of the society can help to sustain or determine legitimacy, e.g. hereditary as in the British monarchy.
- Foreign policy objectives: The extent of foreign policy objectives initiated by a country determines the level of acceptance given it by other countries.
- Wider scope of political participation: The ability of the government to involve all sections of the people in governance helps to determine legitimacy, e.g. political appointments and different interest groups.
- Ideology: The ability of the government to uphold the tenets of the states ideology will help determine legitimacy, e.g. communism in China and capitalism in U.S.A.
- Charisma of the leaders: This could be based on their honesty of purpose, uprightness or oratory.
- Popular Support: Popular/mass political participation of the people in government and support accorded these political leaders.
- Open – Door Administration: And opportunities for debates and criticisms determine legitimacy greatly.