It is widely accepted that internationalization and the increasing loss of parliamentary control over political power challenge the legitimacy of national democratic systems and their core institutions. We first present results from a study of public communication, which, when examined in the context of theories of legitimation, indicate that these processes do not necessarily lead to the erosion or breakdown of popular support for the nation state. The idea that there is a linear cause-and-effect relationship is overly simple, and a more detailed analysis is called for. Legitimation of a political system through public communication is a back-and-forth process which is determined by the system’s specific institutional arrangements and by the fortuitous twists and turns of public debate. Nation states have more extensive, diverse and deeply rooted sources of legitimation than is often assumed. Legitimacy in the nation-state: what do we know? The idea of democracy is at the heart of the modern western state, whose institutions reflect what Robert A. Dahl called the ‘second democratic transformation’, i.e. the transfer of democratic self-government from the city-state to nations and large-scale societies. For a long time, this transfer was remarkably successful. Institutions of representative democracy at the national level secured effective citizen participation in political decision-making and they themselves became a central source of popular support for the nation state’s political arrangements.

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Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511752193.006
Citation
Hurrelmann, A, Krell-Laluhová, Z. (Zuzana), Lhotta, R. (Roland), Nullmeier, F. (Frank), & Schneider, S. (Steffen). (2005). Is there a legitimation crisis of the nation state?. In Transformations of the State (pp. 119–138). doi:10.1017/CBO9780511752193.006