“If you are government, I’m not talking to you”

The relationship between people and government

So many of the people we spoke to said they don’t feel they can talk to their government.


Understanding what legitimacy means today and what governments can do to strengthen it must be a priority or it will become increasingly difficult for governments to function well or work for you.

That’s why we, at the Centre for Public Impact, have embarked upon a worldwide listening project. We want to know, what does legitimacy mean to you?

Three ways you can get involved:

  1. Tell us what you think
  2. Discover what we've heard
  3. See what governments are doing

Tell us what you think

Have your say

This is an ongoing, global research project – we need your input, feedback, views and opinions, wherever you are, and whatever type of government you live under

The CPI works with governments around the world, to support them in engaging with their citizens and producing impact.

Join the conversation!

Visit us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter – use the hashtag #FindingLegitimacy and tell us what legitimacy means to you.

What do you think?

Which one thing matters most to you?

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How can governments engage more with young people?

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What is the one piece of advice you would like to give to civil servants?

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Share your views

We’d like to know how you feel about legitimacy.

You can get in touch with your views on what legitimacy is, what it should be or could be, or how much of it you feel your government has.

Share your responses to these questions, or tell us anything that comes to mind when you think about Legitimacy.

  • “What does Legitimacy mean to you?”
  • “Addressing legitimacy should be as important to governments as setting their budget.”
  • “Can government show empathy? How?”
  • “How does trust and fairness play in part in building legitimacy?”

Discover what we've heard

We’re speaking to citizens, experts, academics, civil servants and politicians all over the world, to find out what legitimacy means to them.

It’s an on-going conversation, and it’s too soon to make any firm conclusions about legitimacy, but we’re finding that many of the views we hear fall into five emerging themes – each as important as the other – that describe people’s feelings about government, and ways in which governments can grow their legitimacy:

  1. Work together with people towards a shared vision
  2. Bring empathy into government
  3. Build an authentic connection
  4. Enable the public to scrutinise government
  5. Value citizens’ voices and respond to them

1. Work together with people towards a shared vision

Do people feel that they have a stake in a government? Do they feel any sense of common purpose?

2. Bring empathy into government

What dominates public services and processes: departmental structures or people’s needs?

Government feels uncomfortable hearing how indigenous people were hurt

3. Build an authentic connection

How are individual government representatives and institutions perceived by citizens? Do they speak the same language and can they connect with people emotionally?

4. Enable the public to scrutinise government

What mechanisms exist to allow the public to understand easily what government is doing, why, and who makes decisions? Are these processes as inclusive and accessible as they could be?

5. Value citizens’ voices and respond to them

Is consultation just a box-ticking exercise, or is there a general willingness to listen to people’s voices and turn them into action?

Voters want governments to show they care about them and have listened to their voice

Whether these themes strike a chord with you, or if your view of legitimacy is something completely different, tell us your thoughts over on our Facebook page


See what governments are doing

Many governments – local and national – civil society organisations and people worldwide are already working hard to develop a healthy ongoing relationship.

Here are some examples of what can be achieved…

Tell us about a project that’s promoting legitimacy where you are