Table of Contents

Comparative Constitutional Law

Comparative Constitutional Law

Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series

Edited by Tom Ginsburg and Rosalind Dixon

This landmark volume of specially commissioned, original contributions by top international scholars organizes the issues and controversies of the rich and rapidly maturing field of comparative constitutional law.

Chapter 13: The Separation of Legislative and Executive Powers

Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr.

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, constitutional and administrative law


Ronald J. Krotoszynski, Jr. From a global perspective, separating and dividing legislative and executive power constitutes a very low structural priority. Parliamentary systems of government, which predominate across the globe (Ackerman 2000, pp. 645–6), invariably unite legislative and executive authority in the same hands. Professor Sartori counts only thirty nations that have adopted a presidential, as opposed to parliamentary, system of government (Sartori 1994, p. 107). The performance of parliamentary systems of government, although far from perfect, generally has been considerably better than presidential and semi-presidential systems featuring divided executive and legislative authority (Sartori 1994). Presidential systems are ‘mostly concentrated in Latin America’ and ‘the record of presidentially governed countries is – aside from the United States – quite dismal’ (id.; see Ackerman 2000, pp. 645–6 (‘There are about thirty countries, mostly in Latin America, that have adopted American-style systems. All of them, without exception, have succumbed to the Linzian nightmare [the collapse of constitutional government in favor of direct presidential or military control of the government] at one time or another, often repeatedly.’)). Far more nations have adopted and maintain a parliamentary system of government, which lacks the separation of legislative and executive powers. Most political scientists and political theorists favor the parliamentary system because of its obvious efficiency advantages and its tendency to promote stable government (at least when contrasted with presidential forms of government) (Ackerman 2000). Thus, if dividing and separating legislative and executive power really represents an essential attribute of a well-ordered government, most national governments...

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