Comparative Conclusions: Legitimacy and Legitimation in Eurasian Post-Communist States



In every type of political system, power is exercised through a combination of coercion (repression) and legitimation. In democracies, legitimation is far more salient than coercion, whereas the balance is reversed in authoritarian systems. Nevertheless, even the latter seek legitimacy, which history suggests renders a system stronger in the long run than high levels of coercion. One way in which authoritarian regimes can attempt to build legitimacy is, as Adele Del Sordi argues in Chapter 4 with reference to Kazakhstan, through ‘subtle manipulation and persuasion’. This can be operationalized through significant state control of the media, the education system and other channels of purposive socialization and constitutes a key component of ‘soft authoritarianism’. Since almost all the states considered in this volume have been classified as either authoritarian or hybrid (i.e. between democratic and authoritarian), it is worth attempting to analyze the ways in which they seek to legitimize themselves, how successful they have been and the legitimation problems they currently face.


Political Elite Liberal Democratic Party Percentile Rank Corruption Perception Index Shanghai Cooperation Organization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beetham, D. (1991) The Legitimation of Power (Basingstoke: Palgrave)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bunce, V. and Wolchik, S. (2011) DefeatingAuthoritarian Leaders in Postcommunist Countries (New York: Cambridge University Press)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cannady, S. and Kubicek, P. (2014) ‘Nationalism and Legitimation for Authoritarianism: A Comparison of Nicholas 1 and Vladimir Putin’, Journal of Eurasian Studies, 5(1). 1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Connolly, W. (ed.) (1984) Legitimacy and the State (Oxford: Basil Blackwell)Google Scholar
  5. Gilley, B. (2006) ‘The Meaning and Measure of State Legitimacy: Results for 72 countries’, European Journal of Political Research, 45(3), 499–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gilley, B. (2009) The Right to Rule (New York: Columbia University Press)Google Scholar
  7. Habermas, J. (1973a) Legitimationsprobleme im Spätkapitalismus (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp)Google Scholar
  8. Habermas, J. (1973b) ‘What Does a Crisis Mean Today? Legitimation Problems in late Capitalism’, Social Research, 40(4), 643–67.Google Scholar
  9. Habermas, J. (1975) Legitimation Crisis (Boston: Beacon).Google Scholar
  10. Holmes, L. (1993) The End of Communist Power (New York: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  11. Holmes, L. (1997) Post-Communism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).Google Scholar
  12. Holmes, L. (2010) ‘Legitimation and Legitimacy in Russia Revisited’, in Fortescue, S. (ed.) Russian Politics from Lenin to Putin (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), 101–26Google Scholar
  13. Izvestiia (2014) ‘Minkul’tury izlozhilo “Osnovy gosudarstvennoi kul’turnoi politiki”’, Izvestiia, 10 April, (accessed 25 February 2015).
  14. Kalinin, I. (2014) ‘Nash parovoz. Kul’turnaia politika kak instrument demodernizatsii’, Neprikosnovennii’ zapas. Debaty o politike i kul’ture, 98/6, (accessed 24 February 2015).
  15. Kaufmann, D., A. Kraay and M. Mastruzzi (2010) The Worldwide Governance Indicators. Methodology and Analytical Issues [Policy Research Working Paper 5430] (Washington, DC: World Bank).Google Scholar
  16. Linz, J. and Stepan, A. (1996) Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press).Google Scholar
  17. Meyer, A. (1972) ‘Legitimacy of Power in East-Central Europe’, in Sinanian, S., I. Deak and P. Ludz (eds) Eastern Europe in the 1970s (New York: Praeger 1972), 45–68.Google Scholar
  18. Rigby, T. H. (1982) ‘Introduction: Political Legitimacy, Weber and Communist Mono-Organisational Systems’, in Rigby, T. H. and F. Fehér (eds) Political Legitimation in Communist States (London: Macmillan), 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Skocpol, T. (1979) States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Uslaner, E. (2008) Corruption, Inequality and the Rule of Law (New York: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Walker, S. and Nardelli, A. (2015) ‘Russia’s Rouble Crisis Poses Threat to Nine Countries Relying on Remittances’, Guardian, 19 January, (accessed 19 January 2015).
  22. Weber, M. (1919/1970) ‘Politics as a Prof Ession’, in Gerth, H. and C. Wright Mills (eds) From Max Weber (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970), 77–128.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Leslie Holmes 2016

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations