Legitimacy issue

October 6, 2006

David Runciman argues that low electoral turnout creates a legitimacy problem (Opinion, September 29). But does it?

Democratic legitimacy derives from franchise, not turnout. There are many reasons why people do not exercise their right to vote, but the effect of their decision is implicitly to endorse whatever choice is made by those who do.

Thus, taking the example of the past general election, the 39 per cent of the electorate who did not vote by their (in)action endorsed the outcome. It is only when people are denied the right to vote that the outcome lacks legitimacy.

Chris Grey
Cambridge University

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