All governments need legitimacy to survive. But how do governments attain authority? What makes citizens obey or feel loyal toward their governments? Scholars have answered these questions by concluding that political legitimacy comes from several sources:
Example: Iran is a constitutional Islamic republic. Some of its governing bodies are elected, whereas others are put into place for religious reasons.
Example: Saddam Hussein’s Sunni regime in Iraq once inspired a great deal of loyalty in Sunni Arabs.
Example: The United States and many European countries moved quickly to publicly recognize the controversial new nation-state of Israel when it was created in 1948. Although most countries formally recognize Israel and the Israeli government today, Iran and many Arab countries still do not, which is one reason why the Middle East remains such a hot spot in global politics.
Taiwan, an island that was under Chinese control up until the end of World War II, still has not received formal recognition as a nation-state to this day. Not even the United States has formally recognized Taiwan, fearing that doing so would sour American relations with China, which still claims the island. As a result, the people and government of Taiwan have lived in fear that no other country would help them if China tried to retake control of the island by force.