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Legislatures Ch13

Legislatures Ch13

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Ch.
13
Legislatures
Presidentialsystems,liketheoneintheUnitedStates,haveapowerfulchiefexecutivewhoiselectedseparatelyfromthelegislatureandcannotbeeasilyousted,a"separationofpowers."Parliamentarysystems,liketheoneinBritain,ontheotherhand,havethenationallegislatureelectaprimeministerfromitsownranks,a"fusionofpowers."Parliamentscanrecallprimeministerswitha"voteofno-confidence,"whichusuallyhappenswhenthegoverningcoalitionhasfallenapart.Federalsystemsneedanupperhouse,like/theU.S.Senate,butunitarysystemscanbeunicameral,althoughmanyarestill bicameral.Intheory,legislaturesformulatelaws,butinpracticetheytaketheircuesfromtheexecutiveanddeliver"pork"totheirconstituencies.Supervisionandcriticismoftheexecutiveisnowperhapstheirmostusefulfunction.Leg-islatureshave,perhapsunfortunately,declinedinimportanceasexecutiveshavegrown.
Ch.
14
ExecutivesandBureaucracies
The
u.s.
presidentialsystemfrequentlysuffersfrom"deadlock,"andparliamentarysystemssufferfrom"immobilism."Theseissuesarenormalfordemocracies;onlyauthoritariansystemseliminateexecutive-legislativedifficulties,asPutinhasdoneinRussia.Primeministershavetendedto"presidentialize"themselvesbygatheringmorepower.SomeAmericanscholarsfearanoverstrongpresident,onewhoprevailsbyprojectingafriendlypersonality.Withintheexecutivebranchpowerhasbeenflowingtobureaucratsbecausetheyaretheonlyoneswhounderstandcomplexsituationsandpolicies.Japan'sbureaucratsvirtuallyrulethecountry.Nopoliticalsystemhassucceededincontrollingitsbureaucracy.
Ch.
15
Judiciaries
LawplaysanespeciallystrongroleintheU.S.system,whichmakesthejudiciaryanequalbranch;thisisnotthecaseinmostcountries.Commonlawsystems,liketheoneintheUnitedStates,feature"judge-madel~w"thatchangesovertime.Codelawsystems,likethoseofEurope,featurerelativelyfixedformulas,someofthemtracingbacktoancientRome.LikewisetheAnglo-AmericanaccusatoryandadversarialsystemisquitedifferentfromEuropeaninquisitorialsystems.FewothercountrieshaveaSupremeCourtasimportantorinterestingastheAmericanone,whichdecidesissuesrelatedtotheconstitution,apoweritgaveitselfwith
Marburyv.Madison.
ThepoliticalimpactoftheWarrenCourtwasespeciallystrongandcontroversial;itchangedcivilrights,criminalprocedure,andlegislativedistricts.
 
LEGislATURES
r
I
.r:
the
banksoftheThamesinLondon,Westminster,motherofParliaments,representstheslow,gradualmarchto --ocracyovermanycenturies.
(BritishDepartmentoftheEnvironment,Transport,andtheRegions)
 
P
oliticalinstitutions,itistheorized,becomemorespecialized,complex,anddifferen-tiatedastheybecomemoremodern.Primi-tiveextendedfamilieshadnothingmorethanasingleleaderwhodecidedmostthings.Tribesaddedcouncilstodebatemajorprob-lemsandadjudicatedisputes.City-statessuchasAthenshadassembliesthatcombinedleg-
.I
islative,executive,andjudicialfunctions.TheRomansenatecombinedseveralroles,anditspowersdeclinedasRomewentfromrepublictoempire.IntheMiddleAges,theprevailing
<
feudalsystemwasabalanceamongam.onarch,nobles,andleadingchurchmen,anditisin
feudalism
thatwefirstglimpsethe"balanceofpower."
QUESTIONSTOCONSIDER
1.Howdidparliamentsfirstcometobe?2.Whatisthedifferencebetweenpresidentialandparliamentarysystems?3.WhydoestheU.S.Congressoverspend?4.Whatisexecutive-legislative"deadlock"?5.Whatgoodisabicamerallegis-latureinaunitarysystem?6.Dolegislaturesoriginatethelaws theypass?7.Isthe"porkbarrel"necessaryforthesystemtowork?8.Havelegislaturesdeclinedinimportance?Why?
Countrieswithlimitsongovernmenthaveusuallyhadfeudalpasts,whichteachthatdispersionofpowerisgoodandconcentrationofpowerisbad.Countrieswithmostlyabsolutisttraditions,suchasChina,havetroublefound-ingdemocracies.AnexampleofthisbalancingofpoweristheoaththenoblesofmedievalAragon(innortheastSpain)pledgedtoanewking,"We,whoareasgoodasyou,sweartoyou,whoarenobetterthanwe,toacceptyouasourkingandsovereignlordprovidedyouobserveallourstatutesandlaws;andifnot,no."Ambitiousmonarchs,whowereoftenatwar,desperatelyneededr.~venues.Someofthemstartedcallingassembliesofnotablestolevytaxes.Inreturnfortheir"powerofthepurse,"theseassembliesgotamodestinputintoroyalpoli-cies.SuchwerethebeginningsoftheBritish
Parliament,
whichhadtwohouses(LordsforpeersandchurchleadersandCommonsforknightsandburghers),andtheSwedish
Riksdag,
whichoriginallyhadfourchambers(fornobles,cler-ics,burghers,andfarmers).TheFrench
EstatesGeneral,
withthreehouses(fornobles,clerics,andcommoners),gotofftoaweakstartandwassoonforgottenasFrenchmonarchsgatheredmoreandmorepersonalpowerinwhatbecameknownas
absolutism.

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