Legitimacy Research in Progress V: Elisabeth Dieterman

Historian and philosopher Elisabeth Dieterman is in the final phase of her PhD research in the Profile Area Political Legitimacy at Leiden University. Her thesis has the (provisional) title: "Political Legitimacy under Debate: Democracy and Authority in the Netherlands in the 1880s, 1930s and 1960s". We are proud to publish an abstract of her research.


Elisabeth Dieterman

Elisabeth Dieterman

In her project Elisabeth analyses parliamentary debates about the principles of legitimate politics in the Netherlands in three periods in which the political order was challenged to a greater degree than usual: the 1880s, 1930s, and 1960s. The project aims to understand how ideas on parliamentary legitimacy took shape in a political system that – over time – came to view itself as a democratic one.

The nineteenth century is often labeled the ‘age of parliamentarism’: most politicians at the time subscribed to an ideal of representative politics; they believed that the parliamentary system provided for a proper balance between popular input, capability, and impartiality. The last quarter of the nineteenth century marked the end of this age of parliamentary enthusiasm and the beginning of modern party democracy. As an institution, parliament remained at the heart of the political system but throughout the periods under examination the ideal of parliamentary politics lost much of its justificatory appeal; it was challenged in de name of democracy, efficiency, and extra-parliamentary expertise. By analysing dominant modes of argumentation in parliament this project tries to understand what came in its place. It explains why and how the alliance between democracy and representation has posed an ongoing challenge to those engaged in justifying the political order.

Dissertation title (provisional): "Political Legitimacy under Debate: Democracy and Authority in the Netherlands in the 1880s, 1930s and 1960s"
PhD candidate:
 Elisabeth Dieterman
Institute: Institute for History, Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University
Supervisors: prof. dr. H. te Velde & prof. dr. P. Nieuwenburg

Last Modified: 17-03-2016