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  1. The Meaning of Legitimacy
  2. Factors that Determine or Sustain Legitimacy
  3. Legitimacy as a Factor of the Stability of Government


The Meaning of Legitimacy

Legitimacy emanates from the Latin word legitimus which means “legal” or “approved”. Thus legitimacy refers to the general acceptance by people of the political structure and government of the day. Without legitimacy, the government and its structure can hardly exist. When however government exists without legitimacy, it does so with force and becomes a tyrannical or dictatorial government.

Legitimacy as a concept is different from power and authority, in that it flows from the ruled to the ruler, while power and authority flow from the ruler to the ruled, as illustrated below.




From the above diagram, we can observe that authority and power proceed from the government to the governed while legitimacy proceeds from the governed to the government.

Factors that Determine or Sustain Legitimacy

Below are some factors that determine legitimacy:

  1. Reliable leadership
  2. Accountability of leaders
  3. Transparency of administration
  4. Free and fair election
  5. Respect for customs and traditions
  6. Foreign policy objectives
  7. Popular political participation
  8. Ideological frame work


Legitimacy as a Factor of the Stability of Government

As explained earlier, authority is related to position.

Lesson tags: Government Lesson Notes, Government Objective Questions, SS1 Government, SS1 Government Evaluation Questions, SS1 Government Evaluation Questions First Term, SS1 Government First Term, SS1 Government Objective Questions, SS1 Government Objective Questions First Term
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