Mixed government

Mixed government

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Mixed government, also known as a mixed constitution, is a form of government that integrates elements of democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

, and monarchy
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

. In a mixed government, some issues (often defined in a constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

) are decided by the majority of the people, some other issues by few, and some other issues by a single person (also often defined in a constitution). The idea is commonly treated as an antecedent of separation of powers
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

.

Ancient Greek philosophers


Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 in his book The Republic divided governments into five basic types (Four being existing forms and one being Plato's ideal form, which exists "only in speech"):
  • democracy
    Democracy
    Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

    : government by the many
  • oligarchy
    Oligarchy
    Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

    : government by the few
  • timocracy
    Timocracy
    Constitutional theory defines a timocracy as either:# a state where only property owners may participate in government# a government in which love of honor is the ruling principle...

    : government by the honored or valued
  • tyranny: government by one for himself
  • aristocracy
    Aristocracy
    Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

    : government by the best (Plato's ideal form of government)


He found flaws with all existing forms of government and thus concluded that aristocracy, which emphasizes virtue and wisdom, is the purest form of government. Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 largely embraced Plato's ideas and in his Politics
Politics (Aristotle)
Aristotle's Politics is a work of political philosophy. The end of the Nicomachean Ethics declared that the inquiry into ethics necessarily follows into politics, and the two works are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise, or perhaps connected lectures, dealing with the...

 three types (excluding timocracy) are discussed in detail. Aristotle considers constitutional government (a combination of oligarchy and democracy under law) the ideal form of government, but he observes that none of the three are healthy and that states will cycle between the three forms in an abrupt and chaotic process known as the kyklos
Kyklos
The Kyklos is a term used by some classical Greek authors to describe what they saw as the political cycle of governments in a society. It was roughly based on the history of Greek city-states in the same period. The concept of "The Kyklos" is first elaborated in Plato's Republic, chapters VIII...

. In his Politics he lists a number of theories of how to create a stable government. One of these options is creating a government that is a mix of all three forms of government.

Polybius
Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

 argued that most states have a government system that is composed of more than one of these basic principles, which then was called a mixed government system.

Roman Era


The ideal of a mixed government was popularized by Polybius
Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

, who saw the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 as a manifestation of Aristotle's theory. Monarchy was embodied by the consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

s, the aristocracy by the Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

, and democracy by the elections and great public gatherings of the assemblies
Roman assemblies
The Legislative Assemblies of the Roman Republic were political institutions in the ancient Roman Republic. According to the contemporary historian Polybius, it was the people who had the final say regarding the election of magistrates, the enactment of new statutes, the carrying out of capital...

. Each institution complements and also checks the others, presumably guaranteeing stability and prosperity. Polybius also describes Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

 as an earlier manifestation of this ideal. Polybius was very influential and his ideas were embraced by Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

.

Renaissance and Enlightenment


Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 became extremely well regarded during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and many of his ideas were embraced. Polybius was also rediscovered and the positive view of mixed governments became a central aspect of Renaissance political science integrated into the developing notion of republicanism
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

. Mixed government theories became extremely popular in the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 and were discussed in detail by Hobbes, Locke, Vico, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Kant. Apart from his contemporaries, only Montesquieu became widely acknowledged as the author of a concept of separation of powers
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

 (although he wrote rather on their "distribution").

According to some scholars the notion also influenced the writers of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 who based the idea of checks and balances upon the ancient theory. The constitution of Britain during the Victorian Era with a Parliament composed of the Sovereign (monarchy), a House of Lords (oligarchy) and House of Commons (democracy) is a prime example of a mixed constitution in the 19th century.

Modern views


One school of scholarship, based mainly in the United States, consider mixed government to be the central characteristic of a republic, and hold that the U.S. has rule by the one (the President), the few (the Senate, which was originally supposed to represent the States), and the many (House of Representatives). According to Frank Lovett this school is largely defunct.http://www.ajps.org/articles/49.3.Lovett.ms31301.pdf

Yet another school of thought in the United States says the Supreme Court has taken on the role of "The Best" in recent decades, ensuring a continuing separation of authority by offsetting the direct election of senators and preserving the mixing of Monarchy, Democracy, Republic, Oligarchy, and Military divisions of the federal government.

See also

  • Constitutionalism
    Constitutionalism
    Constitutionalism has a variety of meanings. Most generally, it is "a complex of ideas, attitudes, and patterns of behavior elaborating the principle that the authority of government derives from and is limited by a body of fundamental law"....

  • Constitutional economics
    Constitutional economics
    Constitutional economics is a research program in economics and constitutionalism that has been described as extending beyond the definition of 'the economic analysis of constitutional law' in explaining the choice "of alternative sets of legal-institutional-constitutional rules that constrain the...

  • Fusion of powers
    Fusion of powers
    Fusion of powers is a feature of parliamentary democracies, wherein the executive and legislative branches are intermingled. It is often contrasted with the more strict separation of powers found in the presidential democracies. Fusion of powers exists in many, if not a majority, of democracies...

  • Rule according to higher law
    Rule according to higher law
    The rule according to a higher law means that no written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice...

  • Plato's Republic
    Republic (Plato)
    The Republic is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato around 380 BC concerning the definition of justice and the order and character of the just city-state and the just man...

  • Politics (Aristotle)
    Politics (Aristotle)
    Aristotle's Politics is a work of political philosophy. The end of the Nicomachean Ethics declared that the inquiry into ethics necessarily follows into politics, and the two works are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise, or perhaps connected lectures, dealing with the...

  • Separation of powers
    Separation of powers
    The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...


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