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Living in the Languedoc:    Central Government:    The Constitution    Separation of Powers

The principle of the separation of powers is a way of trying to prevent the abuse of power by distributing it between distinct bodies.
Entirely laudible in intent, the principle implies that distinct groups of people be involved in
  • passing laws (the Legistature)
  • carrying out the day-to-day functions of Government (the Executive), and
  • applying the laws passed by the legilature (the Judiciary).
Most modern republics have adopted this model, often successfully, reducing their inherent instability.
An aside: one of the consequences of the widespread acceptance of this principle is that many people have come to believe that it must be applied to all systems of government, that it is not merely desirable in itself but absolutely indispensible to good government. The principle has been accepted by the European Community, and has therefore had to be imposed on systems of government that do not need it. For example, in England the Lord Chancellor was an important member of the Legislature (as head of one of the two houses of Parliament), an important member of of the Executive (as a Cabinet Minister), and an important member of the Judiciary (in fact he headed it). That this role had operated perfectly well for a thousand years proved that the principle of the Separation of Powers is unnecessary in an organicly grown monarchy. The proof was ignored and the axiom that the principle of the Separation of Powers was applied so that the post of Lord Chancellor had to be abolished early in the twenty-first century and replaced by three new ones: one for the Legislature, one for the Executive, and one for the Judiciary.
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