6.3.5 Legitimacy of Political Systems

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/635.htm)

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.

There are various ways of assessing political legitimacy.  The following sub-sections step through the subject:

  • Political legitimacy is necessary and important (6.3.5.1).
  • Different authors have proposed criteria for assessing it (6.3.5.2).
  • An explanation is offered for how David Beetham’s three-layer assessment model relates to this book (6.3.5.3).
  • Beetham’s third layer of assessment, evidence of public assent, is explored in relation to different political systems (6.3.5.4).

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