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Legitimacy of Governments in the Age of Democracy

42 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2008  

Jean d'Aspremont

University of Manchester - School of Law; Sciences Po Law School

Date Written: 2006


The criteria to assess the legitimacy of governments that have been developed by mainstream legal scholarship are overly simplistic and fail to address the situation of illiberal democracies. Indeed, illiberal democracies are endowed with some democratic features, as their governments have usually gone through an electoral process. They can thus claim some form of legitimacy. They cannot, however, be considered wholly legitimate given their disrespect for some of the substantive elements of democracy. In this paper, I offer a more elaborate understanding of the legitimacy of governments in order to deal with the rise of illiberal democracies. I argue that a distinction must be drawn between the legitimacy of origin and the legitimacy of exercise.

Keywords: Legitimacy, Democracy, International Law, Recognition, Accreditation, State, Government

Suggested Citation

d'Aspremont, Jean, Legitimacy of Governments in the Age of Democracy (2006). New York University Journal of International Law and Politics (JILP), Vol. 38, 2006. Available at SSRN:

Jean D'Aspremont (Contact Author)

University of Manchester - School of Law ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL, M139PL
United Kingdom


Sciences Po Law School ( email )

13 rue de l'université
Paris, 75007


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