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Creating Political Legitimacy: Electoral Democracy Versus Quality of Government

Journal article
Authors Bo Rothstein
Published in American Behavioral Scientist
Volume 53
Issue 3
Pages 311-330
ISSN 0002-7642
Publication year 2009
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 311-330
Language en
Links abs.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/53/3/31...
Keywords political legitimacy; democratic theory; quality of government; discrimination;
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Abstract

It is often held that the establishment of electoral democracy is key to the creation of political legitimacy. This article challenges this idea and presents an alternative. Many empirical studies reveal that electoral democracy has no necessary implications for the establishment of legitimacy. Even in the successful and stable Nordic democracies, there is scant evidence that legitimacy is created on the input side of the political system. For example political legitimacy in the former Yugoslavia broke down not because ethnic groups realized they would become permanent minorities but because the new Croatian state violated citizens’ rights in the exercise of power. Legitimacy turns out to be created, maintained, and destroyed not at the input but at the output side of the political system. Hence, political legitimacy depends at least as much on the quality of government than

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