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Separation of Powers. Theory of Separation of Powers Dates back to work of Locke and Montesquieu Has virtue of preventing injustices that might result.

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Presentation on theme: "Separation of Powers. Theory of Separation of Powers Dates back to work of Locke and Montesquieu Has virtue of preventing injustices that might result."— Presentation transcript:

1 Separation of Powers

2 Theory of Separation of Powers Dates back to work of Locke and Montesquieu Has virtue of preventing injustices that might result from an unchecked executive or legislature Two successful historical cases used to develop the theory in the 19 th & 20 th centuries –Great Britain – a parliamentary system –United States – a presidential system

3 Parliamentary & Presidential Democracies Distinguishing FeaturesParliamentaryPresidential Title of Chief ExecutivePrime MinisterPresident Selection of AssemblyBy citizens in competitive election Selection of Chief ExecutiveBy assembly after election or removal By citizens in competitive election Removal of chief executive before fixed term? By assembly; (no) confidence vote Fixed terms Dismissal of assembly before fixed term? PM may call for early election Fixed terms Authority to legislateAssembly onlyAssembly + president (veto) Party relations in assembly & executive Same parties control both; cohesive party voting Different party control possible; less cohesive party voting


5 Mixed Systems Not all democracies meet presidential or parliamentary criteria Mixed / semipresidential systems –Used in France & many new democracies of Eastern Europe –\and Asia President & legislature separately elected But, president has power to dissolve the legislature Cabinet may be appointed by the president, but subject to dismissal by the legislature Variety of arrangements exist for shared control

6 Division of Government Authority Structural Separation of Authority –Concentrated to dispersed: Authoritarian  Parliamentary  Mixed  Presidential Geographic Division of Power – where the power rests –Confederal – ultimate power rests in the states, with central government dependent on the states US under Articles of Confederation –Federal – central & state governments have separate & shared areas of authority US, Germany, Russia, Nigeria, India, Mexico, & Brazil Only 18 in world (less than 1 in 10 countries) Tend to be large & politically important (1/3 of world’s population) –Unitary – power & authority concentrated in central government Britain, France, China, Japan, & Iran Regional & local units have only those powers delegated to them by central government, which can change or withdraw Most of world’s states are unitary


8 Advantages & Disadvantages of Federalism The Good –Helps protect ethnic, linguistic, or religious minorities –Checks overly ambitious rulers –Protects markets & citizens’ freedoms –May allow subunits to experiment with different policy programs & find best ones The Bad –Protects choice & diversity at expense of equality –Allows local governments to pursue different policies, so citizens may get different treatment & benefits at the local level –Not as adept to redistribute resources as unitary governments

9 Limits on Government Power Democracies are characterized by some legal or customary limitation on power (unlike authoritarianism) Powers defined by written constitutions, statues, and customs = constitutional regime –Civil rights protected against interference –Courts can protect rights of citizens & police other parts of government –In Judicial Review, high courts rule on challenges that other parts of the governments exceeded constitutional powers Constitutions may concentrate or disperse power –Concentrated power (unitary system) has some advantages Effective, efficient government Rely on majority rule Tend to treat citizens equally No small group can hold up a decision favored by a majority –Dispersed power has advantages, too More likely to check potential abuses of power Policies more stable over time

10 Checking Policymakers Authoritarian regimes have no way to remove top political leaders –Can change or ignore constitutions Democracies have procedures for checking leaders, which vary by types of systems –Parliamentary systems – chief exec. Can be removed virtually any time –Presidential systems – Presidents have fixed terms of office, unlike Prime Ministers, but can be removed through impeachment Requires serious criminal or other wrongdoing 3 components: offense presents danger to public good or safety, penalty is removal from office, & impeachment cases are decided by the legislature but may involve the judiciary Only Nixon & Clinton were ever impeached & neither was actually removed

11 Ultimate Control of Order – Competitive Elections Ned to achieve & regularly renew mandates is fundamental Creates politicians that respond to demands of citizens Voting gives every citizen some influence on policymaking process **Most significant democratic structure**

12 Short Essay Would you rather live in a federal or unitary system & why? Requirements: –Topic Sentence – directly answer the prompt in 1 sentence –Supporting Evidence – cite at least 3 reasons Explain your reasons –Comparison to the Alternative – what’s so bad about the other system that you don’t like it? –Concluding Remark – sum up your main points

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