Thursday, May 17, 2007

Executive Power

The post about Tony Blair was originally an email to a friend. We got into the "imperial presidency" and separation of powers, and I came up with this.

The writers of the US consititution were aware of the power of the sovreign in Britain and the whole separation of powers was to prevent a single person or institution to have exclusive power. In the 18th century, the sovereign had enormous power. While parliament had control of the purse strings and even the power to remove the sovereign and set succession, the sovereign had enormous power. He had complete authority to appoint and dismiss ministers, call elections and create new lords. What I find interesiting is that the 200 or so years since the revolution, the British/UK system has evolved to where the sovereign has virtually no power to act on her own initiative. This is likely a major reason that the UK is still a monarchy and France, Germany and Russia are not. My reading of history points to one moment that precipitated the shift of power from sovereign to elected government: the accession of an 18 year old woman as Queen. The men of 1837 couldn't imagine a woman, and such a young woman, as being capable of handling the responsibilities. So began the fiction of acting in the Queen's name.

No comments: