LEGITIMACY, DEMOCRACY AND SOVEREIGNTY:
International law does not take into account such niceties as free elections in determining which regimes are regarded as " Legitimate " in terms of having the right to exercise sovereignty over a terrotory. In a legal sense then, Switzerland's government is no more " Legitimate" than that of Oman, an absolute monarchy or Burma's which is ruled by a repressive military-socialist dictatorship.
Nevertheless, various dictatorial regimes like Iraq under Saddam feel compelled to go through the charade of staged elections where the dictator gets 99.9 % of the vote or sometimes more than 100 % in order to demonstrate the regme's bona fides to the international community. Why ? No one believes these elections are anything less than a complete farce and they more often invite ridicule and contempt from foreign observers.
The answer lies in the creeping acceptance of the Lockean social contract and Jeffersonian principle of " just consent of the governed " as the only true source of " Legitimate " governmental authority. All but the hardest-core leftists and Bush-haters acknowledged that the U.S. establishing democracy in Iraq was preferable to Saddam's rule. As a principle of international law, democratic rule has yet to be enshrined as a bestower of legitimacy but psychologically democracy has made such inroads among the Western world's population this outcome is all but inevitable.
Let tyrants fear.