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The Concepts of Contemporary Democratic Governance and the Separation of Powers

Introduction

This essay provides a working definition of representative democracy, constitutional democracy, and republic. It then evaluates how the foregoing concepts impact contemporary democratic governance.

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Representative Democracy, Constitutional Democracy, and Republic

Working definitions are most relevant when one is dealing with concepts that have no definite meanings. In this case, to understand the discourse on such concepts, working definitions must be provided so that the discourse can be understood within the context of the definitions. In this regard, there are different types of democracy; these are defined in the subsequent paragraphs.

Based on the foregoing fact, representative democracy is defined as a form of democratic government founded on the principle of elected officials who are charged with the primary responsibility of representing their electorates (Urbinati, 2008; Barry, 2011).

Apart from the representative democracy, there is also a constitutional democracy. A constitutional democracy does not have a definite definition (Murphy, 2007; Muller, 2007). About this, a constitutional democracy can be defined as a system of government that is based on popular sovereignty in which the powers, structures, and limits of the government are well described in a constitution (Rhonheimer, 2013).

Scholars have also found it difficult to agree on a true definition of what the concept of a republic is (Howe, 2009). In this regard, a republic is a state in which the supreme power rests upon the body of citizens who then delegate the exercise of the power to their representatives (Howe, 2009)

The definitions of the concepts of representative democracy, constitutional democracy, and a republic are still elusive. Therefore, scholars often use working definitions to provide effective discussions on the concepts (Urbinati, 2008).

The Impact of the Concepts on the Contemporary Democratic Governance

In a democracy, the supreme power belongs to the citizens. The citizens can exercise this power either directly or indirectly. However, contemporary democratic governance deals with so many issues that affect a very large population. Thus, inefficiencies would likely jeopardize contemporary democratic governance were a direct democracy to be exercised by the people (Marxer, 2012; Baldassare & Katz, 2008). In this case, the best alternative is the concept of representative democracy (Wagenaar, 2011). For example, in the United States, the people choose their representatives through elections. The elected representatives then make national decisions on behalf of the people (Gauja, 2010).

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Likewise, the concept of constitutional democracy has significantly impacted contemporary democratic governance (Muller, 2007). One of the principles of democracy is that of the rule of the majority (Muller, 2007). However, when not checked, this may result in the neglect of the minorities and their rights (Muller, 2007). Hence, the concept of constitutional democracy has ensured that the authority of the majority is appropriately limited through legal and institutional means so that the rights of minorities can be respected (Muller, 2007). In the United States, every citizen, whether belonging to minority groups or not, is represented in the Electoral College, which elects the president on behalf of the people (Bugh, 2010).

The concept of a republic has also played a role in contemporary democratic governance. Even though a republic as a concept is different from a democracy, it has influenced the constitution of contemporary democratic governance. For instance, the concept of a republic has been applied where constitutions or charters of rights have been adopted to protect specific inalienable rights that should not be taken away by governments. For instance, the protection of specific rights is well encapsulated within the First to Tenth Amendments of the United States (Abensour, 2011).

Federalism and Separation of Powers

The concepts of federalism and the separation of powers are distinct in terms of meanings yet related in terms of democratic governance. About this, federalism can be defined as distinct systems of governments in which powers are divided between central authorities and constituent political units (Sarat, 2013). Meanwhile, the concept of the separation of powers is a specific element of democracy that divides the government into three separate arms with each having distinct powers. The three arms include the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary (Sarat, 2013).

The Influence of Federalism and the Separation of Powers on Governance

Several concepts influence the governance process in every sovereign state. Some of these concepts include federalism and the doctrine of the separation of powers. Federalism has been adopted in countries such as Australia, Switzerland, and the United States (Shah, 2008). The influence of federalism on current governance can be observed in the way sovereign powers are divided between national and local governments. For instance, in the USA where federalism has been adopted, the nation is divided in terms of federal and state governments, where each level of government has distinct powers (Chemerinsky, 2008).

Away from federalism, there is also the doctrine of the separation of powers. In this case, the concept of the separation of powers has ensured that no single entity of the government enjoys the monopoly of power; the monopoly of power may result in political instabilities (Chemerinsky, 2008). In this respect, the separation of powers has made it possible for the three arms of government, namely the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary, to have distinct roles in the exercise of state powers (Chemerinsky, 2008).

The influence of the doctrine of the separation of powers can further be observed in the fact that there are checks and balances concerning the three arms of the government. Specifically, the concept provides the legislature and the judiciary with substantial powers to check on the excesses of the executive (Carolan, 2009).

Insights from Analysis

One of the insights from the analysis is that the concepts of federalism and the separation of powers are significant in the modern governance process. About federalism, the responsibility of governance within a state has been decentralized to ensure that governance units are available even to the local people. This means that important decisions touching on the public good are made at the grassroots. Besides, federalism makes it possible for the central government to ensure equitable distribution of resources to the people.

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The other insight is that the separation of powers is important in terms of ensuring political stability in different sovereign states, especially, the United States of America. The separation of powers plays a major role in the development of democratic governance. In this case, it ensures the division of power among the three arms of government. This ensures that there is no monopoly of power, which often results in authoritarian forms of governance.

Conclusion

The analysis of different literature publications has revealed that federalism and the doctrine of the separation of powers are very important in terms of establishing democratic forms of governance. In addition, representative democracy, constitution democracy, and the concept of a republic also influence the governance process.

References

Abensour, M. (2011). Democracy Against the State: Marx and the Machiavellian Movement. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Baldassare, M., & Katz, C. (2008). The Coming Age of Direct Democracy: California’s Recall and Beyond. Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield.

Barry, C. (2011). The American Republic: The Fourth Form Government. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.

Bugh, G. (2010). Electoral College Reform: Challenges and Possibilities. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Carolan, E. (2009). The New Separation of Powers: A Theory for the Modern State. New York: Oxford University Press.

Chemerinsky, E. (2009). Enhancing Government: Federalism for the 21st Century. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

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Gauja, A. (2010). Political Parties and Elections: Legislating for Representative Democracy. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Howe, J. (2009). Language and Political Meaning in Revolutionary America. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.

Marxer, W. (2012). Direct Democracy and Minorities. New York, NY: Springer.

Muller, J. (2007). Israel as a Constitutional Democracy? The “Constitutional Revolution” and the High Court of Justice in the Political System of Israel. Munich, Germany: GRIN Verlag.

Murphy, W. (2007). Constitutional Democracy: Creating And Maintaining a Just Political Order. Baltimore, MD: JHU Press.

Rhonheimer, M. (2013). The Common Good of Constitutional Democracy: Essays in Political Philosophy and on Catholic Social Teaching. Baltimore, MD: CUA Press.

Sarat, A. (2013). Studies in Law, Politics, and Society. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

Shah, A. (2008). Macro Federalism and Local Finance. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications.

Urbinati, N. (2008). Representative Democracy: Principles and Genealogy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Wagenaar, H. (2011). Meaning in Action: Interpretation and Dialogue in Policy Analysis. New York, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 11). The Concepts of Contemporary Democratic Governance and the Separation of Powers. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-concepts-of-contemporary-democratic-governance-and-the-separation-of-powers/

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StudyCorgi. "The Concepts of Contemporary Democratic Governance and the Separation of Powers." January 11, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-concepts-of-contemporary-democratic-governance-and-the-separation-of-powers/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "The Concepts of Contemporary Democratic Governance and the Separation of Powers." January 11, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-concepts-of-contemporary-democratic-governance-and-the-separation-of-powers/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Concepts of Contemporary Democratic Governance and the Separation of Powers'. 11 January.

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