What drives legitimacy in government?

Discussion paper by the Centre for Public Impact (CPI):  “…What are the sources of legitimacy, and how can legitimacy be strengthened? By legitimacy we mean the reservoir of support that that allows governments to deliver positive outcomes for people, what we at the CPI call public impact. We are interested in exploring how governments can build constructive relationships with their citizens for the benefit of each of us and society as a whole. This might be at a wholeof-government level or the level of an individual service or policy. We will explore how legitimacy flows between these levels, and how legitimacy can be built both from the top down and from the bottom up.

Occasionally legitimacy is discussed as a black or white concept – with governments labelled as either “legitimate” (meaning rightfully in power) or “illegitimate” (meaning not rightfully in power). We will try to avoid getting mired down in such discussions. The concept of legitimacy is also often used as shorthand for other concepts such as “a democratic mandate”, “fitness to serve” or “honesty”. Our project aims to determine what legitimacy means in reality to people and governments in different parts of the world, providing some shades of grey as well greater rigour and clarity. There will be no easy answers. Building legitimacy requires action in many parts of a complex system, involving multiple institutions and actors. And the sources of legitimacy in one country or in one policy area may not be easily translatable to other countries or other policy areas….(More)”.