6.3.5 Legitimacy of the Political System
Government acceptability depends upon the legitimacy of the political system, which gives politicians the accepted right to govern
A political system is a framework of rules and practices for appointing politicians and empowering them to make decisions which significantly affect people’s lives. A legitimate political system is one which the population sees as having the right to exercise power and enforce obedience.
The following sub-sections examine different aspects of the legitimacy of the political system:
● Governments have a need for it, to maintain stability across the whole population as circumstances change (220.127.116.11). Opposition groups can seize on a lack of legitimacy to justify destabilising or overthrowing a government.
● It is important to identify criteria for assessing political legitimacy, to provide clarity when commenting on government acceptability (18.104.22.168). Ideology, culture, and practical arrangements are all important
● The David Beetham model of legitimacy is a useful tool for clarifying whether a political system is acceptable (22.214.171.124). It has three levels of analysis: the system of rules, shared beliefs, and evidence of the population’s consent.
● People must have ways of showing consent to political governance if everyone is to be confident that the system is fully legitimate (126.96.36.199). Voting in a democracy is useful, but other conditions must also be met.