Institute of Elections as the Mechanism of Public Authority Legitimation

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2018-62-2-62-72
Y. Nisnevich (,

National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20, Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow 101000, Russian Federation 

Abstract. The article analyzes the role of the institution of elections in the legitimation of public authority, depending on the type of the ruling political regime. The distribution of government forms in modern states allows us to conclude that in the overwhelming majority of states, the institution of elections is called upon to play the determining role in the typology of public power legitimation. In each specific state, the real typology of public power legitimation is dictated by the way this institution is implemented in the political practice of the given state. In states with ruling regimes of minimal electoral and more developed forms of democracy, honest, free and competitive elections serve as a key mechanism for ensuring the democratic rational and legal legitimacy of public authority. In constitutional monarchies belonging to this cluster of states, along with democratic rational legal legitimacy, traditional legitimacy takes place, the mechanism of which is a constitutionally established order of succession to the throne. This legitimization does not correlate with that of the imperiously-compulsory powers of public authority, but has the character of their moral and ethical legitimation in the context of historical traditions and experience of this state. In non-democratic states with authoritarian and neo-authoritarian regimes of dictatorial type, the institution of elections is deliberately deformed by distorting the legal basis of electoral legislation and using electoral corruption in the process of election campaigns. In such states, elections are transformed into measures of plebiscitary legitimization with a simulation of competitiveness that imitate the rational and legal public authority legitimation. There are also such types of legitimization as charismatic, created with the use of technologies of mass consciousness manipulation and propaganda, and ideological, constructed on the basis of this or that ideology of etatism with nationalistic coloring, which play an important role in achieving the results of measures for their plebiscitary legitimization that simulate competitive elections. 

Keywords: public authority, elections, legitimacy, electoral democracy, authoritarian regime 


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For citation:
Nisnevich Y. Institute of Elections as the Mechanism of Public Authority Legitimation. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2018, vol. 62, no. 2, pp. 62-72.

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