Meaning And Definition Of Separation Of Powers: Advantages And Disadvantages

Table Of Contents

  • The Theory Of Separation Of Powers
  • Reasons For And Advantages Of Separation Of Powers
  • Disadvantages And Criticism Of Separation Of Powers
  • Separation Of Powers In The Cabinet System
  • Separation Of Powers In The Presidential System

The Theory Of Separation Of Powers

Separation Of powers may be defined as the division of goernmental political powers that exist in any given state into the three organs of government. What this principle is saying is that all the amount of governmental political powers that exist in a given state sould not be rested or consolidation in one person or one organ of government. What this principle is saying is that all the amount of governmental political powers that exist in a given state shold not be rested or consolidated in one person or one organ of government. That if these powers are divided into the three organs of government- the legislature, executive and judiciary, that the chances of dictatorshop or tyranny will be reduced to the barest minimum.

It was a French political thinker and jurist Baron de Monesquieu who developed and popularised the principle of separation of powers in his book entitled “Espirit des Lois” which means- The spirit of laws- published in 1748. Political scientits like Locke, Jefferson, Rousseau, Bodin, Plato and Aristotle had earlier expressed their views on the principle of separation of powers. Montesquieu arged inter alia. That if rights, libert and freedom of citizens are to be maintained and guranteed, then the three organs of government must be separated and entrusted to different people to administer. That there will be chaos, violence dictatorship, tyranny and oppression if there is no separation of powers. That the functions of governmnet of law making, execution and adjudication should be handled by deifferent organs of government withou interference.

Reasons For And Advantages Of Separation Of Powers

1. Separation of powers guarantees and maintains the rigts, liberty and freedom of the citizens.

2. Powers are separated among the organs of government in order to avoid chaos, violence dictatorship, tyranny and oppression in a country.

3. Separation of powers leads to division of labour and specialisation in the art of governance.

4. Another advantage of separation of powers is that it reslts in one organ checking the activities of other organs known as checks and balances.

5. Separation of powers without unnecessary interference makes for smooth running of government.

6. The checks and balances that apply in separation of powers make government officials cautious and meticulous in carrying out their functions which make government very efficient and orderly.

7. Separation Of powers maintains law and order which ensure rapid progress and economic and political development.

8. The rule of law which is one of the ingredients of democracy is guaranteed if powers are separated among the three organs of government.

9. The principle of separation of powers ensures stable political system in a country.

10. The principle prevents excesses and recklessness on the part of the organs of government.

11. It brings about efficiency and orderliness in the administration of a country.

Disadvantages And Criticism Of Separation Of Powers

1. It is argued that separation of powers into three organs of government tend to lower the quality of decisions and policies made by these organs.

2. Strict application of the principles of separation of powers slow down the smooth running of government.

3. Separation of powers without interference from othe organs may make these organs to be inefficient.

4. The institution of checks and balances that apply with the separation of powers can lead to political instability in the country.

5. The application of the principle of checks and balances may lead to unhealthy rivalry among the organs of government.

6.separation of powers and the checks and balances may go with it have also been criticised of being incapable of checking the abuse of power by officials of different organs of government.

7. It is also argued that the rights, liberty and freedom of the citizens are violated as a result of the powers allocated to these different organs of government.

8. Finally, as a result of the overlapping nature of the functions and authorities of government, complete separation of powers is near impossible.

Separation Of Powers In The Cabinet System

1. There is fusion rather than separation of power between the executive and the legislature in the parliamentary system.

2. Ministers in this system belong to both the executive and legislative organs of government.

3. The executive organ of government tends to have full control of the legislative organ and even the judiciary.

4. The head of the judicial organ in Britain that practise the cabinet system is also a member of the other two organs-the executive and the legislature.

5. The executive is collectively responsible to the parliament for its actions.

6. The parliament can dismiss the entire executive also know as cabinet with its vote of no confidence.

7. Almost all bills initiated by the executive are passed in the legislature because its members are also parliamentarians who pass these bills.

8. In Britain, one chamber of the legislature-the House of lords is the highest Court of Appeal.

9. Te executive appoints the head of the judiciary who does not really check the activities of those that appointed him.

9. The executive appoints the head of the judiciary who does not really check the activities of those that appointed him.

10. Finally, there seems to be no act of separation of powers among the different organs because their functions tend to overlap.

Separation Of Powers In The Presidential System

1. There is no fusion between the executive and the legislature in the presidential system of government. The two organs are separated both in functions and membership.

2. Ministers do not belong to both organs-any legislator appointed a minister must resign as a member of the legislature in which he was elected.

3. The legislature and the judiciary are not controlled by the executive.

4. The President is elected not appointed fron the parliament and therefore not controlled by the parliament.

5. The chief justice who is the head of the judiciary is not a member of the other two organs of government.

6. The executive is not collectively responsible to the parliament for its action.

7. The legislature cannot dismiss the entire cabinet but can remove the president through impeachment on account of abuse of constitutional power.

8. The upper chamber of the legislature- the Senate does not act as the highest Court of Appeal.

9. Not all bills initiated by the executive are passed in the parliament as it happens in the cabinet system.

10. The act of judicial review is more visible in the presidential system of government.

11. The acts of separation of powers among different organs of government seem to be more visible in the presidential system for more than cabinet system because te functions of these organs do not overlap as in the cabinet system.

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