The Most Important Kinds of Power in Politics are:
When the source of power is the law or the constitution or the customs and traditions, it is called legitimate power.
Legitimate power is authority. It has four sub-forms.
(i) Constitutional Power i.e. power drawn from the provisions of the constitution which is the supreme law of the land. Power of the President or the Prime Minister is a constitutional power.
(ii) Legal Power i.e. power based upon the laws made by the legislature or rules of the executive or the decisions of the courts. Power of a magistrate is a legal power.
(iii) Traditional Power i.e. power of a person which is based upon customs and traditions of the society or his community. Power of a religious leader is a traditional power.
(iv) Charismatic Power i.e. the power based on the personal charisma or unusual qualities of the person. Power resulting from the personality or personal qualities is called charismatic power. In its meaning, it is very near to what we call personal influence. Power exercised by Mahatma Gandhi was a charismatic power.
It refers to the power of the person which is based upon his ability to use force, suppression, repression, violence and dominance. It is not sanctified by law or tradition. Power exercised by a dictator or a despot is always an illegitimate power.
The power that was used by the military dictators in the Pakistani Political System from time to time was an illegitimate power. In fact the power of every dictator is basically an illegitimate power.
When the power-holder directly exercises his power over his subjects it is called Direct Power.
When the power-holder exercises his power not directly but indirectly through his agents, it is called Indirect Power.
It refers to the power clearly vested in the power-holder by the constitution or rules, or laws or customs or traditions.
A power which is exercised in the process of using a manifest power is called an Implied Power.
When the power is concentrated in the hands of a person or a small group, it is called centralised power. In a unitary system the power is centralised in the hands of a single central government. It is, as such, a system of centralised power.
When the power is shared by several individuals, groups and institutions i.e. when power stands divided among several actors and groups, it is called Decentralised Power.
Power is mostly reciprocal. The power of the powerful person is relative to the power of his subjects. It is called Bilateral Power. However, in some cases only the power-holder has power over his subjects. Then it is called unilateral power. In the army or in the police, the higher officer has unilateral power to command his juniors.
National power refers to the ability of a nation to pursue its desired goals in international relations. It has three dimensions:
(a) Military Power,
(b) Economic Power, and
(c) Psychological Power.
(a) Military Power:
It refers to the quantity and quality of soldiers, weapons and officers of the army of the nation. It is used to deter an aggressor or to secure a national goal through resort to war.
(b) Economic Power:
It refers to the economic resources, industrial and technological advancement and the human wealth of the nation.
(c) Psychological Power:
It refers to the ability of the leaders and statesmen of the nation to secure the goals of national interest through their policies, plans, efforts and personal charisma.