Posted by / Monday 26 December 2016 / No comments

How to sustain the legitimacy of a government

Definition of legitimacy
The term legitimacy can be defined as the acceptance of a political leader or a government by the people as the rightful entity to exercise authority over the governed. In other words, the subjects in the state are willing to subordinate themselves to the political ruler and or his regime.

Popular participation in government
One of the means by which the legitimacy of a government can be sustained is to ensure the participation of the individuals and groups within the state. In most countries, there are political parties that are vying to capture political power, there are pressure groups that are working to influence government policy in their favour and there are trade unions trying to improve the lot of workers. All of them must be encouraged to participate in government to sustain the legitimacy of the government.

Respect for fundamental human rights
There are fundamental rights of citizens that must be respected in every political jurisdiction. Such rights include the right to life, the right to live in dignity, the right to own property etc. The government must be seen to be promoting and protecting these rights. If the government instead, violates these rights, it would endanger its legitimacy.

Promote the welfare of the citizens
Another method by which the legitimacy of a government can be maintained is to ensure that the programmes and policies of the government inures to the benefit of the mass of the people. Provision of social facilities for the people, for example, would convince the people that the government is seeking their welfare and therefore would always support it. Their constant support lends legitimacy to the government.

Periodic elections
In every political dispensation, the people would always want to feel a part of the political process. One of the ways of being part of the political process is to be able to determine who governs the people. Where citizens are allowed to elect their leaders from time to time, it would give legitimacy to the government.

1. a. What is legitimacy?
    b. Describe four ways in which a government can sustain its legitimacy

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