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Old 09-17-2019, 02:57 PM
kirkrapine is offline
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Is separation of powers really all that important?


Publius insisted on it, calling the combining of legislative and executive power in one entity "the very definition of tyranny." (I forget which Federalist Paper that's from, but it was taught as a basic principle in American Government class.) But, many of the world's de facto republics (including "crowned republics" like the UK) have parliamentary systems, where the legislature effectively elects the executive branch (from among its own numbers), which has no independent electoral mandate; and I don't think their human-rights track record is really any worse than those with presidential systems.

Last edited by kirkrapine; 09-17-2019 at 02:58 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 05:44 PM
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where the legislature effectively elects the executive branch (from among its own numbers)...
At the time, the "executive" referred to the hereditary monarchs, I believe? And there was no guarantee that the U.S. Presidency wouldn't turn into a president-for-life who could in-practice name their successors. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that key parliamentary systems, in particular the UK, gradually removed the power from the monarchs into the legislature, but that wasn't a guaranteed result by any means.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:26 PM
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At the time, the "executive" referred to the hereditary monarchs, I believe?
I think by the time of the American Revolution, it was more Parliament than the king who determined the choice of ministers. The revolutionaries' real beef was with Lord North's government -- but, the colonists had no mystic sense of loyalty to Parliament, as many had to the king, so the DoI was drafted to blame the king for every grievance, though he probably was not to blame for most of them, perhaps not for any.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:06 PM
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No, the King still had a major influence on the choice of Prime Minister. Lord North was George III's choice, and he stayed in power even though the war was not going well and there was parliamentary opposition to it, because of the King's support.

The King had considerable influence in parliamentary elections because he was also a major land-owner. There was also a general sense amongst the country MPs that the King should have the Ministry that he wanted. And, there was even still a sense amongst country MPs that that opposing the King's policies was disloyal. The concept of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition evolved in the early 19th century, not the 18th: the radical idea that one could be loyal to the King, as head of state, and yet oppose the Crown's ministers because of the policies they advanced.

And when you're talking about the separation of powers in the 18th century, remember that Montersquieu held up the British Constituion as an example of that separation, compared to the French absolute monarchy. He considered that the British monarch was an example of the separation of powers because he had no independent legislative power in the UK, unlike the French monarchs.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:45 PM
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The King had considerable influence in parliamentary elections because he was also a major land-owner.
Never heard that before. I knew he was a landowner (before the Civil List system was established, but I didn't think he could even vote.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:59 PM
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He couldn't, not directly. But the vote back then was based on real estate. In a pocket borough, only one land-owner had the vote and so got to choose the MP. (The land-owner had the borough "in his pocket"). In a rotten borough, a small group of land-owners would have the vote. When the King had an interest in the land, the other local land-owners would naturally take the King's interests into account in how to vote.

And then there was patronage. If the Lord Lieutenancy of the county is vacant, who will the King reward with it? Someone who sent a radical Jack to the Commons, or someone who ensured a steady country gentleman was returned?

Repeat all over the country. Some estimates were that in the 18th century, the King could reliably influence the election of around 100 MPs in the general election, through indirect means and without ever voting himself.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:16 PM
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Yes. And not just between government entities.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:52 PM
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Yes. And not just between government entities.
What other entities? I've never heard of SoP being invoked WRT corporate governance. The CEO is essentially the Board of Directors' PM -- ordinary stockholders don't get to elect him. And in most churches, ordinary parishioners don't get to elect the bishops or their equivalent. Maybe there's some kind of SoP in labor unions, but they don't count for much, any more.

Last edited by kirkrapine; 09-17-2019 at 09:55 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:04 PM
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I think by the time of the American Revolution, it was more Parliament than the king who determined the choice of ministers. The revolutionaries' real beef was with Lord North's government -- but, the colonists had no mystic sense of loyalty to Parliament, as many had to the king, so the DoI was drafted to blame the king for every grievance, though he probably was not to blame for most of them, perhaps not for any.
Besides what Northern Piper has said, GIIIR was a heavy supporter of the war policy...he considered abdicating post 1783, so linked he was to the failed policy.
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Old 09-18-2019, 12:07 AM
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What other entities? I've never heard of SoP being invoked WRT corporate governance. The CEO is essentially the Board of Directors' PM -- ordinary stockholders don't get to elect him. And in most churches, ordinary parishioners don't get to elect the bishops or their equivalent. Maybe there's some kind of SoP in labor unions, but they don't count for much, any more.
All institutions in society have some level of power. Church, state, different branches of the military, the citizenry, corporations, etc. all fight in many ways for power and influence. Itís for the best if no one group of people, regardless of the label, has a monopoly on force.
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