Legitimacy Deficits Beyond the State: Diagnoses and Cures
LEGITIMACY IN AN AGE OF GLOBAL POLITICS, pp. 211-228, A. Hurrelmann, S. Schneider and J. Steffek, eds., Palgrave, 2007
22 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2010
Date Written: October 9, 2006
To what extent should the terms and institutions of normative legitimacy and legitimation apply to entities ‘beyond the state’: international or transnational public or private bodies in general, and the European Union in particular? In normative political theory, one central sense of ‘legitimacy’ is the normative assessment of regimes, particular institutions, officials’ actions, or policies, with an eye to whether they are justifiable. If so, those subject to the arrangements – for instance citizens – have a moral obligation to obey these institutions or officials. They are said to have a ‘political obligation’. The present paper first considers the claim, only to deny it, that attempts at applying considerations of legitimacy to such bodies are fundamentally misguided. Section 2 seeks to provide an overview of these disagreements, and then offers some suggestions for how to alleviate those deficits there may be.2 Section 3 lays out one taxonomy - of several3 - that takes the literature to address at least six different objects of legitimacy at varying levels of generality. We find four different fundamental concepts of what legitimacy is about, and the literature considers at least four institutional means of legitimation for expressing or achieving such legitimacy.Section 4 offers some reflections on how institutions may bolster the requisite forms of legitimacy, especially democratic accountability, and indicates some of the main challenges that face efforts to enhance the democratic legitimacy of international and transnational bodies.
Keywords: Legitimacy, European Union, Human Rights, Democracy, Political Theory
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