Legitimacy of Political Power


By Dejenie A. Lakew

The Temporal Sign and Demand of Society: Legitimacy of Political Power

A leader exercises power of leadership and service on a particular society. The power he/she has can be legitimate or otherwise. The legitimacy of the power of a leader comes from the people. If not from the people then the power is illegitimate.

A legitimate leader therefore has to be a person amongst the people not somebody who is outside of them, who has a better vision, established and derivable wisdom and virtues and an intrinsic courage that analyzes and understands problems of the society ahead and deliver solutions in an optimal time-shortest time possible. He/she leads the people by providing convincing methods and delivering solutions to problems the society faces in the right and progressive direction. No legal citizen should live in pain and die for a survival of an illegal leader but instead a leader has to live in pain and die for the survival of a legal individual citizen. The immediate concerns and jobs of a leader is to serve the society, not be served by society. He/she is an employee of the society not employing the society and make the society live under his/her mercy. Their power to lead the country is legitimate when it is given by the society. By the time they defy the society, develop contempt to the people and rule by their own will, then they changed the country into their real estate and the society into their own workers. That is the beginning of dictatorship, timocracy, oligarchy, etc, any form of illegal government. Once relations get sour and reach to that stage, leaders lose the legitimacy of their power and receive the rant of the society and ultimately lose their political achievements they have done in their legitimate times. The consequences are catastrophic to them to their family members and great descendants- they all be in the eternal fire of history. Therefore, a leader has to be wise enough to know and listen the society and its will as to when he/she should finish a tenure of service so that they end their power as legitimate and the good things they have done during their legitimate times remain as an eternal candle of history to the society.

Good leaders create administrative structures so that the people get conditions/or resources of life, happiness and freedom in minimal obstacles by providing effective leadership on all levels of their government structures . In order these things to be implemented, there has to be a common space of understanding between the people and the leaders. The people should give time to elected leaders as to when and how they have to come up with solutions to the common social, economic and political problems that they have promised to do so. But at the same time leaders should know that life is short and ephemeral and solutions they promised have to be delivered on time and if that does not happen, then they have to give a path way and in fact invite and solicit the people to elect other new leaders who are capable of understanding the scope and magnitude of the problems and promise to address the issues in a better and short time frame. After all governments are highest forms of social gatherings or structures of a particular society, established to take care of common welfare of the people and therefore cannot behave as an outside power but appended to the people from above for all time.

The protests that are happening in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and across the middle east are clear indicators of society running out of patience in living and carrying problems indefinitely, where society expresses outcry in multitudes to the extent of willing to die of their suffering by the hands common people who happened to be on the pinnacle of power and place of the leadership but unable to deliver anything for the society. Inability is not a sin by itself but not willing to give the place for others who are capable is the political sin. In times where society express suffrage and anger , governments should behave as part of the society and ask an apology from the society and express their willingness to leave office by arranging conditions in order problems be addressed.

Leaders should know and it is to their benefit that they feel and remain part of the society when they were in power and when they are out of power. They have to do their utmost effort to live within the society and contribute more when they are out of power but taking care of their family. It is always possible for them to be listened, heard and contribute more to their people as long as they are alive and as long as they finish legally. That is the right way to stay in politics for life long—not by hanging on power for life. These problems of appetite for hanging on power for life time are common in what are called developing or underdeveloped countries , where leaders take counties as their real estates and the society as employees in their firms — while it is non-existent in developed countries.

The consequences are sever and catastrophic not only for such bad leaders but to their all family members. There is no dictator who left power by will and allow his family members live in peace instead they make all their lifelong happiness and achievements be destroyed forever by angry society and unforgiving history. It is amazing why leaders cannot see that and make their immediate family members, children and grand children pay a price for their selfish and ill advised desire of power for life. All dictators disappear along with their descendants for ever from their society while wise leaders remain political advisors and important figures to their own society. Their descendants remain beloved society members living a good life within their own society, proud of the political works their parents have done and the recognition received by the society and history.

It is therefore the sign and demand of the time that leaders of countries irrespective of under-developed/developing, should be willing to do exactly what politically developed world leaders do:

* Put time frame for a political life-tenure in their constitution.

* Make sure their political power is legitimate.

* Know the difference between a country and real estate. It is only in real estate that individual citizens have lifelong rights to own it and live in it.

* Leave office when people demand and cry of their ineffectiveness.

* Leave office when problems remain unsolved on time and beyond.

* During turmoil times within society ( governments unwilling to yield their power from demand of society), then the police force and army should not always play as killing inanimate partners of illegitimate governments that run amuck and put their very own citizens, who give legitimacy to their power beneath their foot, but instead to carry out their responsibility by keeping the security and safety of the society in general and the rights of the people untouched.

It is only when this happens that the old style of removing governments by guns will stop and a modern and civilized political life begins which is a building block of stability, growth and social development.

(Dejenie A. Lakew, Ph.D., can be reached at dejenieal@gmail.com)


2 thoughts on “Legitimacy of Political Power

  1. A/Beth on

    Yes it is correct legitimacy of a government power has always been confer up on people. This power may pass from the people to a state legitimately on condition by way of ‘social contract’ between people of a given society and their state. As John Locke, English legal theoris puts it’ social contract’between the people and the governor is central to legitimising power.

    Different jurist have been trying to give varied deffinition and interpretation to legitimacy of government power or a justification to excerise that.
    According Prof. Hart. Herbet another English positivist and legal philosopher, rules, while the German jurist Prof. Kelsen use ‘grand norms’ are the only factors to legitimise the state’s power and its function.

    This ‘social contract’ according Locke and Hobb,is conditional dependanet on state’s performance, within the power confer up on it.

    Hence,states should have always been democratically elected in the first place. When a banch of strong men established power illigally, and continue to impose the rule of the jungle with absolute imunity by force on the majority of the people,for years, that was when it has went wrong and become out of control.

    Thank you for sharing this information.

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