Policy Brief IV: Confronting Illegitimacy

Democracy and legitimacy are closely linked. Legitimacy to govern is tested through elections, of course, but the challenge should not end there: throughout their terms, politicians’ legitimacy is linked to their ability to adhere to constitutional and legal constraints. State institutions are similarly held to account. Courts must ensure that remedies are provided to disputing parties and all cases are judged fairly; the legislature must operate according to predetermined rules for adopting laws; ministries must follow their protocols; and all of the branches of government must operate under the checks and balances envisioned by the Constitution. The media, oversight institutions, opposition political parties and NGOs maintain a careful watch on leaders and state institutions to ensure that people with power continue to operate within the law. In a democracy, maintaining legitimacy is as important as the elections themselves.

The full document can be downloaded from the link below.

Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Emily R. Buss // Program Assistant