What is political power?
Power is usually defined as the ability to influence people’s behavior by getting people to do what the person wants. Politically, having the ability to influence people is a huge responsibility. Being a leader means having the abilities to not only convince people, but also to inspire them and influence their decision by making them see the sense that the person with power is acting in their best interest. Therefore, political power is about not only persuasion, but also manipulation. Politics is the act of persuasion, acquisition, and exercise of political power.
Political power shapes and control people’s attitude towards the leader and the governing system. The leader guides the behavior of his followers in a direction he desires to achieve the common political objectives. Occupying a political position means having the power and the ability to effect the desired change of behavior of other people involved through persuasion or manipulation. For example, if an individual has the political power over the other person, the degree in which a leader can motivate, incite, inspire, stimulate, and makes other people modify their political behavior. This process is termed as having the political power.
Some of the political behavior or political activities that can be influenced by those having political powers include contributing money to political parties, attending meetings, voting in an election for specific candidates, engaging in protests, change of policies and demonstrations to demand certain changes. People who possess political powers may occur government positions, or some may be private citizens. In most cases, individuals with political powers who are not in government are very influential. They play important roles on mobilizing political resources, exerts pressure on the government to modify decision-making processes more so in public policies. An influential individual who do not occupy government positions, usually come from influential political families, or some are a network of members of specific interest groups or even a leader of a political party who is popular among citizens. Political power exercised can be illegitimate or legitimate, legitimate political power is a widely accepted rule by the citizens. Legitimate political power is derived from widespread acceptance by its citizens whereby the government is given the mandate to make rules and issues commands.
Illegitimate political power implies exercising powers that violate the existing rules; these may include sabotage, protests, and whistle blowing. Extreme illegitimate forms of political power pose a risk of loss of membership. Since most political organization is made up of individuals with different values and interest, this presents the potential for conflict over resources. A leader in power uses his position to attain group goals. However, power is applied in different forms. Coercive power is based on fear. Coercive power includes sanctions, restrictions, and control by force.
Power plays an important role in politics because its consequences can yield positive or negative results. Power in politics is a two-way relationship depending on how people interact based on the resources or values they hold or are in control of. Conflict arises due to pressure to achieve specific goals that might not be realistic. That is why leaders manipulate his followers to serve their needs at the expense of others. In a democratic system, use of power should not involve force; instead of obtaining power should be more of influence that is known as soft power.