Contested world order: The delegitimation of international governance

  • Liesbet Hooghe
  • Tobias LenzEmail author
  • Gary Marks


This article argues that the chief challenge to international governance is an emerging political cleavage, which pits nationalists against immigration, free trade, and international authority. While those on the radical left contest international governance for its limits, nationalists reject it in principle. A wide-ranging cultural and economic reaction has reshaped political conflict in Europe and the United States and is putting into question the legitimacy of the rule of law among states.


International governance Legitimacy International organizations Political conflict 


  1. Acharya, A. (2014). The end of the American world order. London: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  2. Alvarez, J. E. (2005). International organizations as law-makers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, B., Bernauer, T., & Kachi, A. (2019). Does international pooling of authority affect the perceived legitimacy of global governance? Review of International Organization [this issue].Google Scholar
  4. Autor, D., Dorn, D., Hanson, G., & Majlesi, K. (2017). “Importing political polarization? The electoral consequences of rising trade exposure.” MIT Working Paper.Google Scholar
  5. Ballard-Rosa, C., Jensen, A., & Scheve, K. (2018). “Economic decline, social identity, and authoritarian values in the United States.” Paper presented at the American Political Science Association, Boston.Google Scholar
  6. Baumgarten, B. (2017). The global justice movement: Resistance to dominant economic models of globalization. In S. Berger & H. Nehring (Eds.), The history of social movements in global perspective (pp. 647–676). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bechtel, M., Hainmueller, J., & Margalit, Y. (2014). Preferences for international redistribution: The divide over the Eurozone bailout. American Journal of Political Science, 58(4), 835–856.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bexell, M., Tallberg, J., & Uhlin, A. (2010). Democracy in global governance: The promises and pitfalls of transnational actors. Global Governance, 16(1), 81–101.Google Scholar
  9. Bingham, T. (2010). The rule of law. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  10. Bow, B., & Santa Cruz, A. (2015). Polls, parties, politicization, and the evolution of North American regional governance. In B. Bow & G. Anderson (Eds.), Regional governance in post-NAFTA North America (pp. 178–206). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Briceño Ruiz, J. (2007). Strategic regionalism and regional social policy in the FTAA process. Global Social Policy, 7(3), 294–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Burgoon, B. (2009). Globalization and political-economic backlash: Polanyi’s revenge? Review of International Political Economy, 16(2), 145–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Caporaso, J., & Tarrow, S. (2009). Polanyi in Brussels: Supranational institutions and the transnational embedding of markets. International Organization, 63(4), 593–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Carter, Z. (2016). Bernie Sanders says he would renegotiate NAFTA, not violate it. Huffington Post, 04/08/2016.Google Scholar
  15. Cerrato, A., Ferrara, F. M., & Ruggieri, F. (2018). Why does import competition favor republicans? Localized trade shocks, voting behavior, and scapegoating in the U.S. Available at SSRN: Accessed 14 Nov 2018.
  16. Checkel, J. T. (2005). International institutions and socialization in Europe: Introduction and framework. International Organization, 59(4), 801–826.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Conceição-Heldt, E. d. (2013). Two-level games and trade cooperation: What do we now know? International Politics, 50(4), 579–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. De Vries, C. E. (2018). The cosmopolitan-parochial divide: Changing patterns of party and electoral competition in the Netherlands and beyond. Journal of European Public Policy, 25(11), 1541–1565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Della Porta, D. (Ed.). (2007). The global justice movement: Crossnational and transnational perspectives. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Diamond, L., Plattner, M. F., & Walker, C. (Eds.). (2016). Authoritarianism goes global: The challenge to democracy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.Google Scholar
  21. Dingwerth, K., Lehmann, I., Reichel, E., Weise, T., & Witt, A. (2015). Many pipers, many tunes? Die Legitimitätskommunikation internationaler Organisationen in komplexen Umwelten. Politische Vierteljahresschrift, 49, 186–212.Google Scholar
  22. Ecker-Ehrhardt, M. (2014). Why parties politicise international institutions: On globalisation backlash and authority contestation. Review of International Political Economy, 21(6), 1275–1312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ecker-Ehrhardt, M. (2018). Self-legitimation in the face of politicization: Why international organizations centralized public communication. Review of International Organizations 13(4), 519–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. French, J. D. (2002). From the suites to the streets: The unexpected re-emergence of the ‘labor question,’ 1994-1999. Labor History, 43(3), 285–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gidron, N., & Hall, P. (2017). The politics of social status: Economic and cultural roots of the populist right. British Journal of Sociology, 68(S1), 57–84.Google Scholar
  26. Golder, M. (2016). Far right parties in Europe. Annual Review of Political Science, 19, 477–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Goldstein, J., Kahler, M., Keohane, R. O., & Slaughter, A.-M. (2000). Legalization and world politics. International Organization, 54(3), 385–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Grugel, J. (2007). Regionalist governance and transnational collective action in Latin America. Economy and Society, 35(2), 209–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Haggard, S., & Kaufman, R. (Eds.). (1992). The politics of economic adjustment. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Häusermann, S., & Kriesi, H. (2015). What do voters want? Dimensions and configurations in individual-level preferences and party choice. In P. Beramendi, S. Häusermann, H. Kitschelt, & H. Kriesi (Eds.), The politics of advanced capitalism (pp. 202–230). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hetherington, M., & Weiler, J. (2018). Prius or pickup? How the answers to four simple questions explain America’s great divide. New York: Harcourt Publishing.Google Scholar
  32. Higgott, R. (2000). Contested globalization: The changing context and normative challenges. Review of International Studies, 26(5), 131–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hobolt, S. B. (2017). The Brexit vote: A divided nation, a divided continent. Journal of European Public Policy, 23(9), 1259–1277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hobolt, S. B., Leeper, T., & Tilley, J. (2018). “Divided by the vote: Affective polarization in the wake of Brexit.” Paper presented at the American Political Science Association, Boston.Google Scholar
  35. Hochschild, A. R. (2016). Strangers in their own land. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hooghe, L., & Marks, G. (1999). Making of a polity: The struggle over European integration. In H. Kitschelt, G. Marks, P. Lange, & J. Stephens (Eds.), Continuity and change in contemporary capitalism (pp. 70–79). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hooghe, L., & Marks, G. (2009). A Postfunctionalist theory of European integration: From permissive consensus to constraining dissensus. British Journal of Political Science, 39(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hooghe, L., & Marks, G. (2018). Cleavage theory meets Europe’s crisis: Lipset, Rokkan, and the transnational cleavage. Journal of European Public Policy, 25(1), 109–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hooghe, L., Marks, G., Lenz, T., Bezuijen, J., Ceka, B., & Derderyan, S. (2017). Measuring international authority: A Postfunctionalist theory of governance, Vol. III. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hooghe, L., Lenz, T., & Marks, G. (2019). A theory of international organization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Hurrelmann, A., & Schneider, S. (Eds.). (2015). The Legitimacy of Regional Integration in Europe and the Americas. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.Google Scholar
  42. Ikenberry, G. J. (2010). The Liberal order and its discontents. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 38(3), 509–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ikenberry, G. J. (2015). The future of the Liberal world order. Japanese Journal of Political Science, 16(3), 450–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Inglehart, R. F., & Norris, P. (2016). Trump, Brexit, and the rise of populism: Economic have-nots and cultural backlash. Paper presented at the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  45. Jensen, J. B., Quinn, D. P., & Weymouth, S. (2017). Winners and losers in international trade: The effects on US presidential voting. International Organization, 71(3), 423–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Jönsson, C., & Tallberg, J. (Eds.). (2010). Transnational actors in global governance: Patterns, explanations, and implications. London: Palgrave MacMillan.Google Scholar
  47. Jost, J., Federico, C. M., & Napier, J. L. (2009). Political ideology: Its structure, functions, and elective affinities. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 307–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kahler, M. (2013). Rising powers and global governance: Negotiating change in a resilient status quo. International Affairs, 89(3), 711–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kaldor, M. (2000). ‘Civilising’ globalisation? The implications of the ‘battle in Seattle.’ Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 29(1), 105–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kay, T. (2015). New challenges, new alliances: Union politicization in a post-NAFTA era. Labor History, 56(3), 246–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Keck, M., & Sikkink, K. (1998). Activists beyond borders: Advocacy networks in international politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Kissinger, H. (2014). World Order. New York: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  53. Koremenos, B., Lipson, C., & Snidal, D. (2001). The rational design of international institutions. International Organization, 55(4), 761–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Kriesi, H., Grande, E., Lachat, R., Dolezal, M., Bornschier, S., & Frey, T. (2006). Globalization and the transformation of the national political space: Six European countries. European Journal of Political Research, 45(6), 921–956.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Layne, C. (2012). This time it’s real: The end of unipolarity and the Pax Americana. International Studies Quarterly, 56(1), 203–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Lenz, T., & Viola, L. (2017). Legitimacy and institutional change in international organizations: A cognitive approach. Review of International Studies, 43(5), 939–961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Mansfield, E. C., & Mutz, D. C. (2012). Support for free trade: Self-interest, socio-tropic politics, and out-group anxiety. International Organization, 63(3), 425–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Marks, G., Attewell, D., Rovny, J., & Hooghe, L. (2018). The social bases of the transnational cleavage. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  59. Mazur, J. (2000). Labor’s new internationalism. Foreign Affairs, 79(1), 79–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Morgenstern, S., Tamayo, A. B., Faucher, P., & Nielson, D. (2007). Scope and trade agreements. Canadian Journal of Political Research, 40(1), 157–183.Google Scholar
  61. Munck, R. (2007). Globalization and contestation: The new great counter-movement. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  62. Mutz, D. C. (2018). Status threat, not economic hardship, explains the 2016 presidential vote. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(19), E4330–E4339. Scholar
  63. Mutz, D. C., & Kim, E. (2017). The impact of in-group favoritism on trade preferences. International Organization, 71(4), 827–850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Nielson, D. L., Hyde, S. D., & Kelley, J. (2018). The elusive sources of legitimacy beliefs: Civil society views of international election observers. Review of International Organizations.
  65. O’Brien, R., Goetz, A. M., Scholte, J. A., & Williams, M. (Eds.). (2000). Contesting global governance: Multilateral economic institutions and global social movements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Olivet, C., & Brennan, B. (2010). Regional social policy from below: Reclaiming regional integration: Social movements and civil society organizations as key protagonists. In B. Deacon, M. Macovei, L. van Langenhove, & N. Yeates (Eds.), World-regional social policy and global governance: New research and policy agendas in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  67. Polk, J., Rovny, J., Bakker, R., Edwards, E., Hooghe, L., Jolly, S., Koedam, J., Kostelka, F., Marks, G., Steenbergen, M., Vachudova, M., & Zilovic, M. (2017). Explaining the salience of anti-elitism and reducing political corruption for political parties in Europe with the 2014 Chapel Hill expert survey data. Research & Politics, 4. Scholar
  68. Rathbun, B. C. (2012). Trust in international cooperation: International security institutions, domestic politics, and American multilateralism. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Rhodes, M., & van Apeldoorn, B. (1997). Capitalism versus capitalism in Western Europe. In M. Rhodes, P. Heywood, & V. Wright (Eds.), Developments in West European politics (pp. 171–189). New York: St. Martin’s Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Ribeiro Hoffmann, A. (2015). Politicization and legitimacy in Mercosur. In A. Hurrelmann & S. Schneider (Eds.), The legitimacy of regional integration in Europe and the Americas (pp. 57–73). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Rixen, T., & Zangl, B. (2013). The politicization of international economic institutions in US public debates. Review of International Organizations, 8(3), 363–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Rocabert, J., Schimmelfennig, F., Crasnic, L., & Winzen, T. (2018). The rise of international parliamentary institutions: Purpose and legitimation. Review of International Organizations.
  73. Romano, C., Alter, K. J., & Shany, Y. (Eds.). (2014). The Oxford handbook of international adjudication. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Ross, G. (1995). Jacques Delors and European integration. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Ruggie, J. G. (1982). International regimes, transactions, and change: Embedded liberalism in the postwar economic order. International Organization, 36(2), 379–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Rydgren, J. (Ed.). (2013). Class politics and the radical right. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  77. Schimmelfennig, F., Winzen, T., Lenz, T., Rocabert, J., Crasnic, L., Gherasimov, C., Lipps, J., & Mumford, D. (2018). The rise of international parliaments: Strategic legitimation in international organizations. Unpublished book manuscript.Google Scholar
  78. Schmidtke, H. (2018) Elite legitimation and delegitimation of international organizations in the media: Patterns and explanations. Review of International Organizations.
  79. Simmons, B. A. (2009). Mobilizing for human rights: International law in domestic politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Smith, J., Goodhart, M., Manning, P., & Markoff, J. (Eds.). (2016). Social movements and world-system transformation. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  81. Spalding, R. J. (2007). Civil society engagement in trade negotiations: CAFTA opposition movements in El Salvador. Latin American Politics and Society, 49(4), 85–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Steger, M. B., & Wilson, E. K. (2012). Anti-globalization or alter-globalization? Mapping the political ideology of the global justice movement. International Studies Quarterly, 56(3), 439–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Tallberg, J., & Zürn, M. (2018). The legitimacy and legitimation of international organizations: Introduction and framework. Review of International Organizations (this issue).Google Scholar
  84. Tallberg, J., Sommerer, T., Squatrito, T., & Jönsson, C. (2013). The opening up of international organizations: Transnational access in global governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Tarrow, S. (2005). The new transnational activism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Teney, C., Lacewell, O. P., & de Wilde, P. (2014). Winners and losers of globalization in Europe: Attitudes and ideologies. European Political Science Review, 6(4), 575–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Tsoukalis, L. (2014). The unhappy state of the union: Europe needs a new grand bargain. London: Policy Network.Google Scholar
  88. Van Elsas, E. J., Hakhverdian, A., & van der Brug, W. (2016). United against a common foe? The nature and origins of Euroscepticism among left-wing and right-wing citizens. West European Politics, 39(6), 1181–1204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Varoufakis, Y. (2017). Adults in the room: My battle with Europe’s deep establishment. London: Bodley Head.Google Scholar
  90. Whitefield, S., & Rohrschneider, R. (2016). Rethinking right, left and centre: How international issues are reshaping European party competition. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the European Consortium for Political Research, Prague.Google Scholar
  91. Zürn, M. (2004). Global governance and legitimacy problems. Government and Opposition, 39(2), 260–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Zürn, M. (2018). A theory of global governance: Authority, legitimacy, and contestation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Zürn, M., Binder, M., & Ecker-Ehrhardt, M. (2012). International authority and its politicization. International Theory, 4(1), 69–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Political ScienceUniversity of GoettingenGoettingenGermany
  3. 3.GIGA German Institute of Global and Area StudiesHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations