Public Power – What is it, definition and concept | 2022

The public powers are those that emanate from the State and that have the capacity to compel and enforce their orders. These are the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

When we talk about the public we talk about something that affects the entire population as a whole, we relate it to the institutions of the State. Although this depends on the territorial level we are talking about.

Therefore, public power is that which emanates from the State. According to sociologist Max Weber, the State has a monopoly on legitimate violence, which is why the mandates of the powers of the State are mandatory.

Grosso modo, the legislative power establishes the rules of the game, that is, the laws; the executive administers and manages his territory; and the judiciary ensures that the laws issued by the legislature are complied with and supervises the action of the executive.

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Public powers, as we understand them today, arise from the nation state. That is to say, his idea is not old, it is barely three centuries old. There were mainly two its theorists: John Locke and Montesquieu.

Locke established, in 1690, three public powers: the executive, legislative and federal powers. The latter is not as well known, since it is not contemplated by the current division. His mission is that of foreign relations, with all that this entails: diplomacy, declarations of war and defense, trade agreements, etc.

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Years later, in 1748, it was Montesquieu who established the definitive classification of public powers, as well as the defense of their total independence to ensure the proper functioning of the institutions. He removed the federative power from Locke and added the judicial power, which meant independence between the executive power and the assessment of its actions.

What are the public authorities?

There are three public powers, as we have just mentioned:

  • Legislative power: It is made up of the parliaments of the countries and they are the ones that, representing the citizens, approve or reject the laws that operate in the country. It can be unicameral, if it only has one chamber; or bicameral, if it also has a senate, the chamber of territorial representation. Passed laws are fully binding and can be enforced by force if necessary.
  • Executive power: Corresponds to the government of a country. Its head, the president, can be directly elected by the citizens, as occurs in presidential regimes. Or indirectly, by legislators, in parliamentary regimes. He is in charge of directing government action both inside and outside the borders, as well as daily management through public administration.
  • Power of attorney: It is composed of the judicial organs of the State. Its mission is to impart justice in all disputes filed by citizens. But, in addition, its independence ensures that the actions of the other two powers are not arbitrary and obey the law.

How does the public power oblige?

Public power, as an abstract entity that forces all citizens to obey its mandates and provisions, is an idea that could remain in theory without something to materialize it.

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In practice, those in charge of this task are the State security forces and bodies. Although each country has its own nomenclature, its composition can be divided into two: police and army. One deals with inward borders, the other with foreign ones.

Ultimately, these police forces are the ones who enforce compliance with the designs of the public authorities. Let’s see some clarifying example.

If a person, violating the law, assaults or robs someone on the street, it is the police who arrest this person. If the owner of a premises refuses to have the volume of his business below the maximum allowed, the police can force the owner to do so or close the establishment. And, finally, if a judge issues a search and arrest warrant against a citizen justifiably, the police are in charge of arresting him and bringing him to justice.

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