Separation of Powers and Political Accountability
Political constitutions are incomplete contracts and, therefore, leave room for abuse of power. In democracies, elections are the primary mechanism for disciplining public officials, but they are not sufficient. Separation of powers between executive and legislative bodies also helps to prevent the abuse of power, but only with appropriate checks and balances. Checks and balances work by creating a conflict of interest between the executive and the legislature, yet requiring both bodies to agree on public policy. In this way, the two bodies discipline each other to the voters' advantage. Under appropriate checks and balances, separation of power helps the voters elicit information. Copyright 1997, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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Volume (Year): 112 (1997)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
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