Meaning of division of powers

What is division of powers:

The division of powers is the organizational principle of modern States according to which the legislative, executive and judicial functions are exercised through different and independent bodies.

The division of powers allows the different powers to limit and moderate each other, creating a dynamic of checks and balances, so that there is balance between them and none can prevail over the rest.

The separation of powers therefore prevents abuses of authority, since public authority is distributed in a balanced way among these three fundamental organs of the state.

The objective of the division of powers, in this sense, is to avoid the concentration of the powers of the State in a single person, body or corporation, which would make possible the abuses of authority and, over time, the emergence and establishment of an authoritarian or tyrannical regime.

The first formal formulation of the modern theory of the division of powers is the work of the French thinker Montesquieu, who maintained that in each State there were three classes of powers with well-defined functions and fields of action:

  • The legislative power, which is in charge of making, correcting or repealing laws.
  • The executive branch, which is responsible for managing the affairs of the State, applying the legal order, representing the nation at the international level, commanding the armed forces and executing policies in accordance with the popular will and the laws.
  • The judiciary, which is the one whose objective is to interpret the laws and administer justice in conflicts between citizens.

In the division of powers it is fundamental for the existence of freedom, because with it none of these powers will have sufficient force to impose itself on the others and establish an authoritarian regime.

Monarchical absolutism, modern totalitarianisms or the recent tyrannies of the left and right are some of the examples of political regimes that ignored the principle of the division of powers, and established authoritarian, totalitarian or dictatorial regimes, which curtailed citizen freedoms. .

The separation of powers, as such, was one of the conquests of the French Revolution against the absolute monarchy. However, the first case in which the division of powers according to Montesquieu's doctrine was concretized in a legal text was in the Constitution of the United States of America of 1787.

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