Our ‘Virtuous Trilogy’

Rosalyn Higgins Dbe Qc

in Themes and Theories

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780198262350
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682322 | DOI:
Our ‘Virtuous Trilogy’

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This chapter discusses the so-called virtuous trilogy: democracy, legitimacy, and rule of law. Entry into and exercise of the electoral process must not be controlled by financial excesses or requirements that place an unacceptable barrier to real entry into the process and lay the way for domination by interest groups in its exercise. Democracy has to be more than the ability of the electorate to rid themselves of those who are elected. There have to be checks and balances in operation also between elections. Looking outwards for the test for legitimacy can have the salutary effect of making one query one’s own national processes that one has long taken for granted. In particular, it can bring into sharp relief the question of the relationship of a separation of powers to perceptions of legitimacy. It is often said, and particularly in countries undergoing certain political difficulties, that the exercise of a robust judiciary is, at the end of the day, undemocratic because it entails overruling what the elected representatives have decided to do.

Keywords: democracy; legitimacy; rule of law; elections; checks and balances; separation of powers; judiciary

Chapter.  3476 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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