Law, Democracy and Governance: Legitimacy in a Multilevel Setting

What makes 21st century democracy tick?
Law and the legitimacy of institutions continue to form the cornerstones of regulation and conflict conciliation, but distinctions between the public and private sectors and between the national and international realms have become diffuse. Citizens are asking who is making the rules and who is governing their country. ‘Crisis of legitimacy’ is a term that is being heard more and more. These complex issues form the focus of the research carried out by our legal experts, political scientists, public administration specialists and historians.

What's going on in the 21st century?

A democratic state under the rule of law operates differently in the 21st century from in former times. Although law and the legitimacy of institutions continue to form the cornerstones of regulation and conflict conciliation, the distinction between the public and private sectors has become diffuse. The economy, civil society, politics, public administration and law are becoming increasingly enmeshed. A bank crisis has consequences for how national states perform, and vice versa. European integration and globalisation mean that the borders between the national and international dimension are becoming increasing blurred.

Crisis of legitimacy

Given the blurring of national boundaries, citizens are increasingly asking who is making the rules and who is governing their country. The problem of the legitimacy of politics, law and public administration features strongly in the public debate. ‘Crisis of legitimacy’ is a term that is being heard more and more.

Two main lines of research

These complex issues form the focus of the research carried out by legal experts, political scientists, public administration specialists and historians at Leiden University. Their key areas of focus are:

  • How is the interaction between the different levels of law, politics and administration shaped? How can we unravel the ‘Gordian knot’ of national and international systems of law and public administration?

  • How has the legitimacy of law, politics and institutions developed? What is good governance and what is wise? Is the gap between citizens and politics really greater than before?

Are our institutions flexible enough?

Europe is currently facing a number of major issues: are the concepts and practices of law and politics adequately geared to the much-needed innovations in society and industry? Are national and European institutions flexible and decisive enough to implement these innovations and to steer their development in the right direction? Do they enjoy an adequate level of confidence from stakeholders?

Credit crisis

Our researchers study such complex issues as the global credit crisis and climate change, the protection of children and the care for the elderly, the balance between the interests of consumers and businesses. Their aim is to make a contribution to the effectiveness and efficiency of law and political decision making.

Link with professional practice

Besides being involved in research, many of our scholars are also engaged in professional practice as judges or lawyers. This dual expertise allows them to feed the fields of law, public administration and industry with articles, advice and post-academic training. They evaluate the Constitution, measure the effects of custodial sentences and the confidence of the electorate in political parties and public institutions. They bring specialist knowledge and in-depth insights to the public and political debate.

Launched as a core aspect of Leiden University's research strategy, Law, Democracy and Governance is an institution-wide profile theme.

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Description of the Law, Democracy and Governance research profile (in Dutch)

 
Last Modified: 09-05-2012