Who is more legitimate?
October 01, 2004
When speaking about legitimacy in Armenia people usually mean the
specifically legal aspect of the issue. Meanwhile, legitimacy is a
much broader concept which in addition to the legal aspect also has a
dimension of social perception.
For instance, the victory of this or that candidate or party in the
elections can be perfectly legal (no violations are observed during
the elections, there are no complaints, the elections are held
At the same time the society might not perceive that candidate or
party as legitimate because it does not see in him the necessary
qualities for political activities, ability to make reasonable
judgments and suggestions and does not perceive him as a person with
necessary merits to be involved in politics.
In this case we have illegitimacy in terms of social perception. Many
political forces and leaders become socially illegitimate irrespective
of their political and ideological orientation and positions.
In this respect it would be correct to address not only the issue of
legitimacy of the current authorities (which is a very popular issue
in ourcountry) but also the legitimacy of the opposition.
In other words, we should also think about whether or not the
opposition is legitimate in terms of the social perception of its
activities. Does it have the necessary abilities and potential to
address the problems the state andthe population are facing today?
Can it find reasonable and efficient solutions to those problems? We
believe there is no need to think about this for too long – the answer
is obvious. This is probably the reason why there were more people
standing on the stage than in the square during the opposition’s last
This is the result of the opposition losing its social legitimacy. It
is possible that some opposition leaders are trying to transfer their
political activities from the streets to the parliament, an attempt
that faces strong resistance on the part of those who are to blame for
the opposition’s loss of legitimacy.
All the political forces and leaders should think about legitimacy
from the perspective of social perception. Do they have this kind of
legitimacy? This is the question.
It will not be a great revelation to say that legitimacy in terms of
social perception is more important than merely legal legitimacy. This
explains the situation when we have a political elite as a political
category, but this elite has no legitimacy and will hardly ever gain
The society does not perceive it as political elite, or better say it
does not want to accept the latter as elite since the society has a
different interpretation of the term `elite’. Thus, we should
clarifyone thing – is the opposition that insists on the illegitimacy
of the current political authorities more legitimate than the latter?