5 Different Kinds of Sovereignty

The five different kinds of sovereignty are as follows: (1) Nominal arid Real Sovereignty (2) Legal Sovereignty (3) Political Sovereignty (4) Popular Sovereignty (5) Deo Facto and De Jure Sovereignty.

(1) Nominal arid Real Sovereignty:

In ancient times many states had monarchies and their rulers were monarchs. They wielded absolute power and their senates and parliaments were quite powerless. At that time they exercised real sovereignty. Therefore, they are regarded as real sovereigns. For example, Kings were sovereigns and hence they were all powerful in England before fifteenth century, in U.S.S.R. before eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in France before 1789. The state of affairs changed in England after the Glorious Revolution in 1688.

Now the King is like a rubber- stamp. The British king has a right to encourage, warn and advise his Ministers or seek any information about the administration. Except these ordinary powers, all other powers of the British king are wielded by his Ministers.

Lowell has summed up the position of the British Sovereign in these words: “According to the early history of the constitution, the ministers were the counsellors of the king. It was for them to advise and for him to decide. Now the parts are almost reversed. The king is consulted but the ministers decide”.

(2) Legal Sovereignty:

Legal sovereignty is that authority of the state which has the legal power to issue final commands. It is the authority of the state to whose directions the law of the State attributes final legal force. In every independent and ordered state there are some laws which must be obeyed by the people and there must be a power to issue and enforce these laws. The power which has the legal authority to issue and enforce these laws’ is legal sovereignty.

In England, the King-in-Parliament is sovereign. According to Dicey, “The British Parliament is so omnipotent legally speaking…. that it can adjudge an infant of full age, it may attain a man of treason after death; it may legitimize an illegitimate child or if it sees fit, make a man a judge in his own case”.

The authority of the legal sovereign is absolute and law is simply the will of the sovereign. Since the authority of the sovereign is unrestrained, reserves the legal right to do whatever he desires. It is the legal sovereign who grants and enforces all the rights enjoyed by the citizens and, therefore, there cannot be any right against him. The legal sovereign is, thus, always definite and determinate.

Only the legal sovereign has the power to declare in legal terms the will of the stale. The authority of the sovereign is absolute and supreme. This authority may reside either in the monarch or in an absolute monarchy or it may reside in the body of persons.

(3) Political Sovereignty:

Dicey believes that “behind the sovereign which the lawyer recognises, there is another sovereign to whom the legal sovereign must bow. Such sovereign to whom the legal sovereign must bow is called political sovereign. In every Ordered state the legal sovereign has to pay due attention to the political sovereign.

According to Professor Gilchrist, “The political sovereign means the sum-total of influences in a State which lie behind the law. In modern representative government we might define it roughly as the power of the people”. In other words by political sovereign in the representative democracies, we mean the whole mass of the people or the electorate or the public opinion. But at the same time, it cannot be emphatically asserted that political sovereignty can definitely be identified with the whole mass of the people, the electorate or the public opinion. Political sovereignty is a vague and indeterminate term.

Political sovereignty rests in that class of people under whose influence the mass of the people is or the people are. Political sovereignty rests in the electorate, in the public opinion and in all other influences in the state which mould and shape the public opinion.

In the words of Professor R.N. Gilchrist, “Political sovereign manifests itself by voting, by the press, by speeches, and in many other ways not easy to describe or define. It is, however, not organised and it can becom6 effective only when organised. But the organisations of political sovereignty lead to legal sovereignty. The two are aspects of the one sovereignty of the state”. As a matter of fact, legal and political sovereignty are the two aspects of the one sovereignty of the state. But at the same time both the aspects stands poles apart.

Legal sovereign is a law-making authority in legal terms, whereas political sovereignty is behind the legal sovereign. The legal sovereign can express his will in legal terms. But the political sovereign cannot do so. Legal sovereign is determinate, definite and visible whereas political sovereign is not determinate and clear.

It is recognised. Legal sovereignty is vested in the electorate, public opinion and other influences of the state which mould or shape the public opinion. Legal sovereign is recognised by lawyers while political sovereign is not.

Legal sovereign cannot go against the will of the political sovereign whereas political sovereign, though not legally powerful, controls over the legal sovereign. The concept of legal sovereign is clear whereas the concept of political sovereign is vague. Legal sovereign is elected by the political sovereign whereas political sovereign is the electorate or the people. These are the points of difference between the legal sovereign and the political sovereign.

(4) Popular Sovereignty:

Popular sovereignty roughly means the power of the masses as contrasted with the Power of the individual ruler of the class. It implies manhood, suffrage, with each individual having only one vote and the control of the legislature by the representatives of the people. In popular sovereignty public is regarded as supreme. In the ancient times many writers on Political Science used popular sovereignty as a weapon to refute absolutism of the monarchs.

According to Dr. Garner, “Sovereignty of the people, therefore, can mean nothing more than the power of the majority of the electorate, in a country where a system of approximate universal suffrage prevails, acting through legally established channels to express their will and make it prevail”.

(5) Deo Facto and De Jure Sovereignty:

Sometimes a distinction is made between the De Facto (actual) sovereignty and De Jure (legal) sovereignty. A de jure sovereign is the legal sovereign whereas a de factor sovereign is a sovereign which is actually obeyed.

In the words of Lord Bryce, de facto sovereign “is the person or a body of persons who can make his or their will prevail whether with the law or against the law; he or they, is the de facto ruler, the person to whom obedience is actually paid”. Thus, it is quite clear, that de jure is the legal sovereignty founded on law whereas dc facto is the actual sovereignty.

The person or the body of persons who actually exercise power is called the de facto sovereign. The de facto sovereign may not be a legal sovereign or he may be a usurping king, a dictator, a priest or a prophet, in either case sovereignty rests upon physical power or spiritual influence rather than legal right.

History abounds in examples of de facto sovereignties. For example, Oliver Cromwell became de facto sovereign after he had dismissed the Long Parliament. Napoleon became the de facto sovereign after he had overthrown the Directory. Likewise, Franco became the de facto sovereign after he had dislodged the legal sovereign in Spain. On October 28, 1922 Mussolini’s Black Shirts marched on Rome. At that time, Parliament was the legal sovereign. Mussolini became the Prime Minister in the legal manner. He ruled parliament and ruled the country through parliament.

Parliament remained the legal sovereign but he was the actual or de facto sovereign. Hitler also did the same in Germany. He too became the de factor sovereign. He controlled the legal sovereign and became the de facto sovereign. Similarly, Stalin remained the actual sovereign in U.S.S.R. for about three decades.

After the Second World War and before the Egyptian Revolution King Farouk was the legal sovereign. General Naguib’s ‘coup de’etat’ in Egypt and the abdication of King Farouk is another example of de facto sovereignty. Nazib was expelled and Nasser succeeded him in de facto sovereign.

After the death of Nasser, Mr. Sadat succeeded him. After the assassination, Hosni Mubarak became the President of Egypt. Similarly, Ayub became the de facto sovereign after he had staged the military coup in Pakistan. When Ayub was overthrown Yahya Khan Rose to power with the help of the army and became the fe facto sovereign.

After his defeat in 1971 at the hands of Indian army he handed power to Bhutto, who was thrown in July, 1977 by Zia-ul-Haq, who first of all became de facto and later on de jure sovereign. Thus, it is quite clear that the actual or de facto sovereign is the strongest active force in the State and it is capable of making his will prevail. But sometimes, it happens that de facto and de jure sovereignty ultimately coincide.

In this connection, Dr. Garner has very aptly remarked, “The sovereign who succeeds in maintaining his power usually becomes in the course of time the legal sovereign, through the acquiescence of the people or the reorganisation of the State, somewhat as actual possession in private law ripens into legal ownership through prescription”.

China and Pakistan are the glaring examples. In Soviet Union, the Communist Government became the de facto government of the successful Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. But in course of time, it became the de jure government also.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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