Separations of power Study Sections

    Separations of power – the principle of building and functioning of public administration in modern democratic states, presupposing the existence of legislative, executive and judicial branches of power and a system of checks and balances for their mutual relations.

    For the first time in the classical form, the idea ofthe separation of powers was formulated by S. Montesquieu in his book “On the Spirit of Laws” (1748). The author warned that the greatest danger that engenders despotism and lack of rights is the concentration of the fullness of political power in one hand. To prevent such abuse of power, it is necessary that one power restrain the other. Political freedom can be found only where there is no abuse of power.

    With the separation of powers, executive, legislative and judicial institutions, being independent of each other within their competence, mutually control each other and discourage the concentration of power dangerous for democratic processes in the same hands. At the same time, the separation of powers implies not only a delineation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers but also the existence of a strong opposition within the framework of the law. In federative and confederal states, the power bodies of the subjects of the federation (confederation) play the role of counter-power in relation to the center.

    In the system of separation of powers, the dominant position belongs to the parliament (see Parliamentarianism), since it is the legislative power that has the right to determine the boundaries of the activities of the executive and the judiciary. However, already at the early stages of developing legal acts, parliaments coordinate their content with government instances. In the presidential republics, the head of state has the right to veto (ban) legislative acts or to require their finalization. In turn, the parliament can cancel or slow down the decisions of the executive branch.

    All executive institutions are obliged to coordinate their actions with the parliament to some extent: to report to it, and if it is a question of parliamentary republics, then even get a mandate from the parliament to carry out their functions. Parliaments of many countries have the right to bring charges against top state officials and bring them to justice (impeachment procedure) if their actions harm national interests.

    However, the judicial power acts as the main guarantor of observance of legality in the activities of the executive and legislative power, the arbiter in the event of any contradictions between them. Without an independent judiciary, separation of powers is impossible. In most countries, the supervision of compliance with the Constitution, the compliance of acts of the legislative and executive branches with its main provisions is entrusted to a specially created, institutionally separate judicial institution. In France, this is the Constitutional Council, in Germany – the Federal Constitutional Court, in the United States – the Supreme Court. These institutions monitor the legality of the actions of the president and parliament, the compliance of the Constitution with international treaties and agreements, resolve disputes related to national elections and referendums. Political parties, trade unions, local authorities can apply to this if they do not agree with decisions of state bodies or see in them a threat of violation of the State Basic Law.

    The verification of the constitutionality of the adopted legislative acts and the actions of the administration serves as a logical solution to the system of checks and balances designed to guard constitutional democracy.

    Rate your experience with this philosophy study!

    Discuss this Study