There are four elements or ingredients or characteristics of state i.e. population, territory, government and sovereignty. Hence the state cannot be imagined without Sovereignty. It is Sovereignty that not only distinguishes the state from other associations, but also gives it superiority over them. The precise and definite location of Sovereignty is, however, not an easy matter. This problem of location of Sovereignty has, therefore, given rise to a distinction between legal and political Sovereignty. titular and Actual Sovereignty and de jure and de facto Sovereignty.

Following are the important types of Sovereignty.


When sovereign powers are vested theoretically, apparently, or in black and white in an individual or state institution, it is titular or nominal sovereignty. In such conditions, real state powers belong to some one other person or institution. This type of sovereignty appeared because of the parliamentary form of government. The best example of this is England where the king or Queen is the Titular sovereign and parliament is the actual sovereign.


When the state sovereignty is practically exercised by an individual or institution, it is called real sovereignty. For example, in UK the state powers are theoretically in the hands of the British Queen but in practice these powers are exercised by the British parliament. Another example of this type is Prime Minister of India and Prime Minister of Pakistan under original Constitution of 1973.


Sovereign powers of law making vested in an individual or institution by the constitution or fundamental law of the land is legal ‘sovereignty. This type of sovereign is provided constitutional safeguards and all must obey his laws. The laws made by this type of sovereign are final and cannot be question by any one. For example, in Great Britain Parliament is constitutionally empowered to exercise state sovereign powers.

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Many political thinkers, scientists and writers reject, legal concept of sovereignty as too narrow and misleading. Dicey, one of them, has said, “Behind the legal sovereignty there is a political sovereignty before whom the legal sovereignty must bow.” For example, in a state where the electorates elect political institutions, their electorates are sovereignty in UK British electorates is to elect the powerful lower house i.e. the house of common. So, Parliament is to legislate keeping in view the demands and needs of the voters.


If the only voters are sovereign, it is political sovereignty and if all the citizens irrespective of any discrimination are given equal opportunities to play their role in state activities, it is popular sovereignty. Its example is the direct democracy in the Greek city state of 5th century B.C. There, all citizen were given equal opportunities to play due role in political activities.


The dejure sovereign is the lawful or constitutional sovereign of the state and recognized by the courts. If the component individual or institutions exercise the state supreme powers completely and permanently, it is dejure sovereignty. Those states have dejure sovereignty that are recognized by the international law.


The state power temporarily exercised by the individuals or institutions is de-facto sovereignty. Those states where governments are instable or unable to conduct international affairs are never permanently recognized by the other states. Such state has defacto sovereignty. For example, General Pervaiz Musharaf got powers through military coup. His government was defacto, but through constitutional amendment and restoration of the constitution, he became the President and hence dejure sovereign.

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