Definition of Political legitimacy
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Political legitimacy Definition from Encyclopedia Dictionaries & Glossaries
Wikipedia English - The Free Encyclopedia
In political science, legitimacy is the popular acceptance of an authority, usually a governing law or a régime. Whereas “authority” denotes a specific position in an established government, the term “legitimacy” denotes a system of government — wherein “government” denotes “sphere of influence”. Political legitimacy is considered a basic condition for governing, without which a government will suffer legislative deadlock(s) and collapse. In political systems where this is not the case, unpopular régimes survive because they are considered legitimate by a small, influential élite. In moral philosophy, the term “legitimacy” often is positively interpreted as the normative status conferred by a governed people upon their governors’ institutions, offices, and actions, based upon the belief that their government's actions are appropriate uses of power by a legally constituted government. In law, “legitimacy” is distinguished from “legality” (see colour of law), to establish that a government action can be legal whilst not being legitimate, e.g. a police search without proper warrant; conversely, a government action can be legitimate without being legal, e.g. a pre-emptive war, a military junta. An example of such matters arises when legitimate institutions clash in a constitutional crisis.
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