Politics Unit 1 People & Politics

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What is power?

  • The ability to make others do something.

What is authority?

  • The right to exercise power.

What are the three types of power?

  • Coercion – the use of force to achieve ends.
  • Political power – exercised by govt through persuasion and incentives.
  • Influence – The ability to affect decisions but not to enforce them.

What are the three types of authority according to Thomas Hobbe’s interpretation?

  • Traditional – accepted as real authority if over a long period of time e.g. hereditary monarch, H of L, Pope.
  • Charismatic – Leaders so respected and persuasive that this is allowed e.g. Gandhi, Mussolini.
  • Legal/rational – also “elective” authority. Any organised system for establishing proper authority e.g. in democracy

What is legitimacy?

  • Whether power is being rightfully exercised. This depends entirely on an individual’s political outlook.

Which six principle examples constitute legitimate rule?

  • Tradition – a regime that has held power without serious popular challenge for a long period of time.
  • Control – “Might is right,” any ruler who can control the state, provide internal security and protect it from external attack has a right to govern.
  • Religion – Basis of authority is religious belief e.g. Islamic regimes in Iran/Libya/Saudi Arabia.
  • Legality – if there is a recognisable system of laws in a state and the government operates within those laws.
  • Morality – Judgements about the conduct of a regime must be made in order to assess legitimacy e.g. are human rights respected?
  • Consent – the people of a regime consent to being governed by the govt.

What is consent and what criteria show positive signs of consent?

  • Consent – permission to be governed.
  • Widespread participation in free elections. Even if government is unpopular for a period of time, this does not mean the system itself is opposed.
  • Clear and regular demonstrations of support e.g. Hitler’s third Reich
  • The lack of any significant opposition over a long period of time suggests the people are content e.g. China.
  • Traditional consent can be assumed with longstanding political systems.

What is sovereignty?

  • In general terms, “supreme power”. It is divided into two main types.
  • Legal – The point where the ultimate ability to make laws resides e.g. Parlt. Other law enforcement agencies can only use laws that have been passed by Parlt. and been given Royal Assent by the Queen. *Devolved assemblies in Scotland & N. Ireland have not been given sovereignty – the power to make laws could be taken back by Westminster.
  • Political – Where power really lies. Parlt. is sovereign, but the Cabinet is considered the centre of power. *Some argue that sovereignty ultimately lies with the people.

To what extent do the use of referenda undermine parliamentary sovereignty?

  • YES If referendum is mandatory its result binds Parlt. Therefore Parlt must go along with the result. This reminds us that sovereignty resides with the people.
  • YES Referendums can act as a form of entrenchment – can make it difficult for future Parlts to overturn decisions made by referendums.
  • YES When referendums are…


henrik larsson



Maria Shipman


This is a lifesaver!!!!! thanks :)

Ty Ellis


This was great! Thanks!

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