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Parent States versus Secessionist Entities: Measuring Political Legitimacy in Cyprus, Moldova and Bosnia & Hercegovina

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This article questions whether a relatively strong conviction that legitimacy conveys nothing more than acceptance derived from legal recognition. Therefore several indices are constructed which are applicable to comparing and contrasting four major dimensions of political legitimacy both in parent states and in secessionist entities. In measuring political legitimacy in Cyprus, Moldova and Bosnia & Hercegovina in terms of identity and security on the one hand, and democracy and performance on the other, we may be able to observe cases where internal legitimacy has been neglected by the international community. This article concludes that legitimacy is a variable continuously used in the support and rejection of secessionist bids and integrationist endeavours.

I would like to thank Rein Taagepera, Rein Murakas, Piret Ehin, Martin Mölder and Scott Pegg for useful comments and criticism to various drafts of this article. I owe special thanks to Mihkel Solvak for graphic design and Raul Toomla for drafting the questionnaire. I am grateful also to Yücel Vural, Muharrem Faiz, Dino Djipa, Elena Bobkova, Ion Jigau and Arcadie Barbarosie for help in conducting public opinion surveys in Cyprus, Moldova and Bosnia & Hercegovina. This article represents a contribution to the Estonian Science Foundation project ‘De Facto States in the International System: Legality vs. Legitimacy’ (grant no. 7951).

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Tartu,

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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