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Historical Developement of Separation of Powers - Essay Example

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The doctrine of separation of powers finds its roots in the ancient world where the concepts of governmental functions and the theories of mixed and balanced government were evolved, essential elements in the development of the doctrine." (Vile, M.J.C.; 1967; chapter 2)…
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Historical Developement of Separation of Powers
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Download file to see previous pages In 17th century England, it emerged for the first time as a coherent theory of government, explicitly set out, and urged as the 'grand secret of liberty and good government'" (Vile, M.J.C.; 1967; Chapter 2). In the upheaval of the Civil War, the doctrine emerged as a response to the need for a new constitutional theory when a system of government based upon "a mixture of King, Lords, and Commons" seemed no longer relevant. "Growing out of the more ancient theory, the doctrine became both a rival to it and a means of broadening and developing it into the 18th century theory of the balanced constitution" (Vile, M.J.C.; 1967; Chapter 2). The revolutionary potentialities of the doctrine were fully realized in America and France, but when its viability as a theory of government was tested "its weaknesses were revealed; this one revolutionary idea could also become a bulwark of conservatism." (Vile, M.J.C.; 1967; Chapter 2)
The attack on the doctrine came in two waves: First, the middle class "which had most fervently supported it", now saw within its reach control of political power through extension of the franchise, and the need for a theory that was essentially a challenge to the power of aristocracy diminished; however, until the Second Reform Act in England, the doctrine was sought only to be re-examined (Vile; M.J.C.; 1967; chapter 2). ...
Changing ideas about the role of government and its structure were "accompanied by a changing emphasis in ideas about the nature of sovereignty". (Vile, M.J.C.; 1967; Chapter 2). In earlier centuries, the need for a single omnipotent source of power had been stressed by "theorists of absolutism", and rejected by liberal constitutionalists, who swore by division of power and the limitations on power imposed by the constitution or by a higher law. "Rousseau's association of unlimited sovereignty with the people led to reorientation of ideas" (Vile, M.J.C.; 1967; Chapter 2) .If franchise could be restricted to those with a stake in the community, the idea of an unlimited, indivisible sovereign power became for the liberal individualist not a threat but a safeguard; "it became in the hands of Bentham and Austin an instrument for reform of government which would increase the freedom of the individual". However, "the desire for a unified system of government, whether to achieve reform or for positive State action, led to a rediscovery of the role of discretion and prerogative in government." (Vile, M.J.C.; 1967; Chapter 2)
Realization that the functional concepts of the doctrine of separation of powers were inadequate to explain the operations of government was heightened by emerging awareness of the nature of bureaucracy; "the impact of Prussian bureaucracy in the 19th century, establishment of a non-political civil service in England, dissatisfaction with the spoils system in the United States, development of the Weberian theory bureaucracy, (all) led to a reassessment of the 'executive' function". (Vile, M.J.C.; 1967; Chapter 2). Thus the demand for establishment of "harmony" between the legislature and the executive ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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