ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

The Legitimation of Political Regimes as a Key Variable

Steffen Kailitz
Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Studies, Dresden
Steffen Kailitz
Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Studies, Dresden
Open Panel

Abstract

The paper introduces a way to classify political regimes based on how rulers legitimize their rule. The classification rests on the differentiation between, on the one hand, personalist, non-inclusive, and weakly institutionalized regimes and, on the other hand, modern rational-legal, inclusive and well institutionalized regimes. The introduced typology distinguishes between the basic types of absolutist monarchy, patrimonialism, military emergency dictatorships, ideocratic and neo-patrimonial one-party autocracies, autocratic and hybrid multiparty regimes and liberal democracies. It is argued that the presented classification (1) serves to address important research questions, (2) can be interpreted meaningfully, and (3) is easily reproducible (Cheibub/Gandhi/Vreeland 2009). The second part of the paper shows that a classification of political regimes focussing on legitimation is useful for addressing important research questions. I test the relationship between the legitimation of political regimes and their durability. It is argued that political regimes have problems in terms of legitimizing themselves and in terms of staying stable if rule is arbitrary and/or there is no rational rule of succession. Political regimes also experience problems in terms of legitimizing themselves if they do not follow their own rules. As expected, military emergency dictatorships and patrimonialism show little durability because they lack clear rules of succession and/or are arbitrary. Hybrid and autocratic electoral regimes are also not very durable because they have to struggle with the problem that they legitimize themselves mostly like liberal democracies, but do not follow the rules of a liberal democracy. The most stable regimes are ideocratic one-party regimes and liberal democracies, because both kinds of regimes display clear patterns of legitimation.