Critically Examine the Claim by States to Be the Legitimate Governing Authority in a Territory.

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Max Weber cited in Blakely and Saward (2009 P. 361) defines the state as ‘An organisation that successfully claims a monopoly of the legitimate use of force in a given territory. The word legitimate also appears in the question for this essay, so legitimacy appears to be the key word, and its definition is, “able to be defended with logic or justification” (Oxford dictionaries online). In a democracy the Government is voted in by the people, and it could be argued this process makes it legitimate. But not all states in the world are democratic, so can they be seen to be a legitimate governing body, with the authority to rule the people of that territory? This essay will examine the legitimacy of the states power and if they are justified to be the governing authority in a given territory. The United Kingdom is a democratic society; the people are given the opportunity to vote, for the political party they consider will be the best to govern. However not all persons use their vote, and those who do, not all take careful consideration over the parties portfolio, but follow a habit of generations. In the 2010 general election only 65.1% of the 46 million registered voters used their vote (UK Political info). That means around 16 million people chose not to, does this mean that they were content with whatever political party was elected and willingly except them as the legitimate governing authority. These non voters may be the democratic minimalists as described by David Beetham, (Citizens and the state, 2009, track 2) who believe that democracy is the right to govern through elections, but the voting should be left to those who understand the party line. That would leave the persons who voted as the democratic maximalists, who believe that they should have their say and participate more than normal. Although this would suggest there is room for another category between the two, the section of the population who only get interested in politics when there is a general or local election and the rest of the time they are content with the elected party. However would it make a difference to the legitimacy if maximalists were given extra power and given the opportunity to have their say, through citizen’s initiative, local referendums and Citizens Juries? Citizens juries, modelled on the structure of a criminal Jury, consists of 12 -16 ‘best fit’ demographic members of the public to examine an issue of public significance and deliver a verdict (People and participation.net) However is 12 – 16 people a good cross section of the society, especially when the UK is considering changing trial by jury in fraud cases, because jurors struggle dealing with the complex evidence involved. (BBC news online) So it would appear that Joseph Schrumpeter had a valid point when he stated that people in his view do not have the skill or capacity to do any more than to vote. (Citizens and the state, 2009, track 2). This is supported by a personal pledge submitted by Kiltie Jackson a UK citizen which includes “ But most importantly, and over everything else, I swear that I will not take myself, or my country, too seriously because I am proud to be British and that is how we do it” (Blakely and Saward, 2009, p.363) So can a democratic voting system give the legitimacy of an organisation when in the UK only two thirds of the voting population voted? Further analysis shows only a quarter of the eligible voters voted Conservative forcing a coalition with the Liberal Democrats and the new Government was formed by only 42% of eligible voters (BBC News Online). If you took the total population of the UK this makes 32% of the people. Is this enough to claim a monopoly as the legitimate governing authority, especially when split between two parties. “Creating and maintaining political order is largely the job of the state, which we can define as a set of practices, a set of institutions and as a rather abstract idea”. (Blakely and Saward, 2009, p.360)...
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