Where does political power come from? Scholars have developed two models to explain the source of political power:
- Percolation-up model: Political power rests with the citizens. In turn, citizens grant political power to their leaders through elections. This view appeals to our democratic sensibilities, but it may not be correct. After all, throughout most of human history—and in many parts of the world today—strong and stable governments ignored their citizens.
- Drip-down model: Political power rests with the leaders, who organize society and impose order. Nevertheless, citizens retain the power to overthrow the government by electing new leaders.
Political scientists use both of these views in different circumstances. Sometimes change happens in a society because of a genuine grassroots effort. In other cases, government leaders create a policy and impose it on the people. And sometimes both happen.