Mapping political legitimacy in Latin America

Timothy J. Power, Jennifer M. Cyr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We present a general overview of political legitimacy in Latin America circa 2005. We first discuss ways in which the concept of legitimacy has coloured debates on Latin American politics. Secondly, we generate empirical information on contemporary Latin American legitimacy by replicating the innovative measurement approach of Bruce Gilley. We use this multidimensional legitimacy score to generate cross-national rankings of legitimacy in contemporary Latin America. We then examine how our new legitimacy scores correlate with a wide variety of performance data and governance indicators in the region. Finally, we offer some initial hypotheses to explain high and low performance in specific cases. Political legitimacy in Latin America is associated with past regime experience, formal channels of political representation and citizen participation. The systems that rank higher on the multidimensional measure of legitimacy are those with an established democratic tradition, with reasonably institutionalised party systems and with high rates of political participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-272
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Social Science Journal
Issue number196
StatePublished - Jun 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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