Political authority is the power granted to an individual or a group of people through a political exercise. The main purpose of political authority is to enhance social unity and development among people. Political authority is created and maintained by states. States acquire political power to devolve directly or indirectly functions and obligations to its subjects. Political power is obtained through a process by which the people it applies to subscribe. The power to rule in a rightful process is manifested in a state that has acquired the mandate to rule over its subjects (Chopra, 1999). A state is formed with obligations granted unto it that requires the state to acquire the power to enforce conditions on its subjects. Sources of political power depend on many factors that differ globally; they include; tradition, habit, history, religion, charisma, and the rule of law.
The rule of law: Modern states subscribe to democracy. This implies that people have to recognize the law, take part in making the law and voting for the laws either directly or indirectly. The rule of law involves a collective consent of laws among people. This shows that governing bodies while performing their leading duties are the trustees of the laws and not the possessors of law. Foundation of political authority legally does not allow a sovereign to use power to settle personal wishes freely. The people exercise their powers either through voting or otherwise in granting bodies as well as individuals the power to rule over them and govern them due to a universal desire that need to be fulfilled. In this legal process, citizens get to respect and acknowledge the power that they delegated themselves. The citizens rationally subject themselves to laws that they consider valid and right for all.
Tradition: Tradition or cultural factors since history to date have been significant factors in the acquisition of political power. Governments acquire due authority through citizens who develop a strong tradition of respect and authority. In most cases, this comes into play with governance that has been in place for a period (Huemer, 2013). There exist many social organizations that acknowledge cultural values in the grant of powers to individuals like kings and chiefs whom in either way belong to a loyal family thus inherit the authority.
International recognition: A government of the day acquires legitimacy when it is recognized by other states and gets a welcome into the international community. For instance, the European countries quickly moved to acknowledge the controversial 1948 creation of nation-state of Israel publicly. Although many countries recognize Israel and its government formally, Iran and some Arab countries do not, hence the Middle East becoming a global political hotspot.
Ethnic identity: Most countries are composed of more than one ethnic group. Many countries subscribe to regimes that are strongly connected to particular ethnic groups hence obedience and maximum respect due to the link between them. An example is evident in Iraq where Saddam Hussein’s Sunni as a regime inspired a great number of loyalty belonging to Sunni Arabs. In Rwanda, it’s down history the ethnic scramble and fight for power led to massive genocide which saw many people loss lives.
Charisma: The power that emanates in form of radical personality is what charisma entails. Charismatic authority generates from the people collective consciousness recognition of an individual and fits the idea of the person having the interests of the state as paramount and personal. A charismatic leader has a role to play and should be on the stage of history and is considered as the vocation to be bestowed power to lead people and the nation to its betterment. Charismatic leaders are always seen selfless, devoted for other people’s desires and ready to serve their states whole heartedly. It is evident that this kind of power once existed through charismatic leaders like Caesar, Mussolini, Hitler, Fidel Castro, Mao Tse Toug, Nelson Mandela, Leopold Sedar Senghor and Julius Nyerere. The strength of character muscles a politician more than ideology hence charisma to an extent is a paramount psychological factor in power legitimacy.Performance: Citizens acknowledge and maintain obedience to a well-performing government that articulates problems and instills development. If success is achieved by a government in a way like military victory or grand economy, loyalty among its citizens would be instilled. Poor performing governments have been experiencing hardships and no recognition from its citizens hence coups, military overthrows, and war (Collins, 2008).
History: Government activities go on record; governments that make history and have a good track record in its mandate enjoy the support of its citizens. People recall grand deeds and actions in the history of the country, and out of historical pride they give their allegiance to the government of the day.
Religion: Religion has been a distinction that enjoys a mega following and guided by its mutual laws, various religious groups and beliefs stand for obedience to government as an obligation. Iran as a constitutional republic based on Islam has some elected governing bodies whereas others are established for religious purposes.
In conclusion, political Authority is the legitimate power to rule over people who have come together for a common goal and desire. Indeed political authority aims to guide and establish a clear leadership in the political obligation of states. Citizens are therefore required to obey the law. Democracy advocates for each person to take part in discussing and passing of the law that they feel is right and valid equal to all.