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Bernard Matolino

Kwame Gyekye seeks to address the complex question of political legitimacy particularly on the African continent. He argues that the justification for political legitimacy need not necessarily depend on the economic performance of any given regime. For him, justification for legitimacy merely lies in whether all correct processes and procedures were properly followed in the assumption of power. He is of the view that military coups should not be tolerated as they lack legitimacy although they might have justification usurping power. He also argues that popular uprisings may have the justification to assume power but should subject themselves to a plebiscite to have legitimacy. In this paper I seek to argue that Gyekye's distinction between legitimacy and justification of exercise of political power is unsustainable. In contrast to Gyekye I seek to argue for a more plausible account of legitimacy that takes the substantive requirement much more seriously. I do this by showing the importance of the function of institutional checks on power in traditional African societies and seek to argue for the urgent need of such institutionalised checks on power in post-colonial Africa.

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Adopting a Resistance Lens

An Exploration of Power and Legitimacy in Transitional Justice

Julie Bernath and Sandra Rubli

Drawing from the critical scholarship on transitional justice and from studies of resistance, this article brings together different observations of resistance, including different sets of actors, forms and motives of resistance, and analyzes their implications for power and legitimacy in contexts of transition. The article argues that the analytical value of resistance lies in the original vantage point it provides for an engagement with questions of power and legitimacy that inform transitional justice processes, but that are often difficult to identify on an empirical level. In doing so, it proposes a “resistance lens,” that is, an explicit focus on resistance that is based on a relational understanding to resistance, in order to move beyond simplistic conceptions of resistance in transitional justice scholarship that mainly approach resistance as resulting from a lack of political will of the powerful elite to implement supposedly universal transitional justice models.

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Yagil Levy

This article addresses the question of why Israel initiated the Second Lebanon War so quickly, despite the civilian agenda to which the government had been committed, other mitigating factors, and the fact that the kidnapping of two soldiers did not warrant such a massive operation. Arguably, the war reflected the syndrome of a gap of legitimacies, that is, the gap that has emerged since the 1980s between high levels of political legitimacy for using force and low levels of social legitimacy for making the attendant sacrifices. Both values led to belligerency. Strong support for the use of force pushed Israel into taking offensive action that a civilian government could not contain, while the low level of social legitimation for sacrifice led to speedy decision-making and the desire for a swift conclusion by using massive force. Such a response would obviate any restraints on military action that might result from discussions about how to avoid sacrifices.

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Evaluating the Quality and Legitimacy of Global Governance

A Theoretical and Analytical Approach

Tim Cadman

Global governance, central to international rule-making, is rapidly evolving; thus, there is a need for a way to evaluate whether institutions have the capacity to address the problems of the contemporary era. Current methods of evaluating the democratic quality of contemporary governance are closely linked to legitimacy, about which there are competing definitional theories. This article uses a theoretical approach based around “new“ governance and the environmental policy arena to argue that contemporary governance is best understood as social-political interaction built on “participation as structure“ and “deliberation as process“, with the level of interaction ultimately determining legitimacy. It presents a new arrangement of the accepted attributes of “good“ governance using a set of principles, criteria and indicators, and relates these to the structures and processes of governance. The implications and application of the analytical framework are also discussed.

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Anat Herbst

This study applies critical discourse analysis to examine the relationship between the imagery and the legitimacy attached to single mothers, as well as the social policy designed for them. The correlation between images, legitimacy, and policy was examined during three decades (the 1970s, 1990s, and 2000s) of extensive legislation pertaining to single-parent mothers. The data have been drawn from a diversity of sources, including Knesset debates, Knesset committee discussions, women's organizations, the media, and semi-structured interviews. The study shows that welfare policy necessarily encapsulates cultural perceptions and basic assumptions pertaining to certain segments of society. These beliefs anchor justifications for the expansion or limitation of social rights and reveal how the development of social rights is linked to cultural and social apprehension.

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Maurizio Passerin d'Entrèves

This article examines the question of justice in democratic constitutional states from the standpoint of a theory of deliberative democracy. Its aim is to show that the validity of a conception of justice and the legitimacy of political institutions and public policies based upon it can best be defended on the basis of a normative theory of deliberative democracy. This theory, I shall argue, is superior to the two main normative models of justification that appeal to the ideal of neutrality (Rawls, Larmore, Nagel) or to the ideal of perfectionism (Raz, Galston).

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From Relations of Power to Relations of Authority

Epistemic Claims, Practices, and Ideology in the Production of Burma's Political Order

Ingrid Jordt

Following the 1962 coup of Burma's first post-Independence and parliamentary democratic government, a succession of military régimes has asserted their legitimacy on diverse grounds. Their ability to keep the upland minorities contained and the country unified, to implement a socialist-style redistributive system, and contemporaneously to act as chief patron to the sangha (order of monks), have each functioned as claims to legitimate rule and to nation-statehood. In 1990, the régime refused to hand over power to Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party, following a landslide election. Aung San Suu Kyi's resistance to the régime, and claims for her own political legitimacy have been asserted, predominantly through an emergent `global society' (universalizing) discourse about human rights, régime performance, and democratic self-determination. In this paper, I examine these separate assertions for legitimacy as distinct but interrelated frameworks for thinking and action, the inconsistencies among which complicate the process of stable state making in Burma.

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Paul Fawcett

Distrust towards politicians is often identified as a key factor behind the current “crisis of democracy.” If there is a crisis, it only seems natural that at least some responsibility must rest with the political elite. This article locates this distrust in the context of broader debates about “antipolitics” and depoliticization. It examines how these debates have been informed by the putatively new set of challenges presented by the shift to governance and changing notions of legitimacy. The article concludes that politicians remain a necessity, not a choice. Politicians might be part of the problem, but they are certainly not the only problem. It ends by calling for a re-articulation of the relationship between government and citizens and leadership and democracy.

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La santé dans les pays en développement

Défaillances de l'aide, équité et légitimité

Mamadou Barry, Bruno Boidin and Stéphane Tizio

*Full article is in French

English abstract: The aim of this article is to study the efficiency of health aid through an analysis of recommendations made by those working in development assistance. The central focus concerns the legitimacy of these recommendations. We show that recent directions in health aid still neglect equity and sustainability issues. We also discuss how to introduce ethical considerations into health aid.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo examina las condiciones de la eficiencia de la ayuda para la salud, dadas las opciones de políticas de salud preconizadas por los actores de la ayuda al desarrollo. La pregunta sobre la legitimidad de estas preconizaciones constituye el centro de la reflexión. El artículo muestra que las recientes orientaciones en la ayuda al desarrollo en el campo de la salud dejan de lado asuntos de equidad y sostenibilidad de las políticas. En este contexto se proponen pistas que permitan introducir consideraciones éticas en la ayuda a la salud.

French abstract: Cet article s'interroge sur les conditions d'efficacité de l'aide à la santé compte tenu des options de politiques de santé préconisées par les acteurs de l'aide au développement. La question de la légitimité de ces préconisations est au cœur de notre réflexion. Nous montrons que les orientations récentes de l'aide au développement dans le domaine de la santé négligent toujours les questions d'équité et de soutenabilité des politiques. Nous proposons alors des pistes perme ant d'introduire des considérations éthiques dans l'aide à la santé.

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Pertti Ahonen

The Berlin Wall was a key site of contestation between the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic in their Cold War struggle over political legitimacy. On both sides, the Wall became a tool in intense publicity battles aimed at building legitimacy and collective identity at home, and undermining them in the other Germany. The public perceptions and politicized uses of the barrier evolved through stages that reflected the relative fortunes of the two German states, moving gradually from extensive East-West parallels in the early 1960s toward a growing divergence by the 1970s and 1980s, which became increasingly indicative of East Germany's weakness.