On the Legitimacy of Representation during the Transition towards Democracy

Author:Ioan Alexandru
Position:Professor, PhD, President of the Centre for Academic Excellence, Romania
European Integration - Realities and Perspectives
On the Legitimacy of Representation
During the Transition towards Democracy
Ioan Alexandru
Abstract: From the very beginning we need to mention the f act that legitimacy as a social fact does not
necessary coincide with the legitimacy that grants the legal character, although normally the doubts
concerning the legitimacy of an action, of a process, of an authority or of an institution represent the s ource of
mistrust and are questioning their legality. (Rosanvallon, 20 10, pp. 21-29) With other w ords, it is not enough
for a process to observe the regal requirements, nor for a qualified and legally authorized or recognized b ody
take a favourable decision. The legitimacy involves trust and total and active acceptance of the majority of
citizens towards the result of the actions of institutions and of the relevant public persons.
Keywords: democracy; legitimacy; institution; transition
It is true that the legitimacy of the modern state is based on the legal character of its actions but the
legality involves something more than a simple concordance o f the action of the state power with a
law norm in force. Legality may be considered as legitimate only if the legitimacy of the norm is
previously assumed. This means that the notion of legitimacy involves the acknowledgment of that
law norm as being valid and that practically it was and is still used by the members of the society to
harmonize their actions. (Serrano Gómez, 1994, p. 277)
In the reality of the social practice, given that the h omogeneity of the modern state is just a relative
presumption; the legitimacy is practically based on several types of criteria and arguments. For
example the so called “unwritten rules of the political system” that is the tradition that things were
always made in a certain manner. Such an unwritten rule is the acknowledged authority of a person
that issues an order, or an opinion; and from the tendency to observe any procedural legality which
acting based on the established, public and consensual regulations enjoys trust and credibility (the
assumptions of authenticity, of veracity and legality of the actions made by the public authority). In
this case, a crucial element is that the actions of the legal authorities, as well as the legal procedures be
transparent, credible and clear, especially in a social environment which does not excel by the
political-juridical culture.
In order to highlight the importance that legitimacy has in exercising the public power we submit
broadly an excellent definition of one of the most famous doctrine makers of the past century:
Legitimacy represents the bridge between a political regime and its national community; and means
also the frame of convictions shared by that community, to which the capacity of governing is
transferred of any government from any State.
Or if preferable, it means the possibility of that government to lead a nd to be obeyed, being protected
by the real game rules which give a meaning to a political system: not only those written as laws, but
also the ones that allow the coherent inclusion of numerous recipes of social structures and the
Professor, PhD, President of the Centre for Academic Excell ence, Romania. Corresponding author:

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