The Dynamics between the Executive, Legislature, and the Judiciary

The Three Arms of the Modern Nation State

It is commonly understood that the political economy in any country actualizes itself through the dynamics of the three principal organs, the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. Before we launch into a full-fledged discussion about the interactions between these components, it is useful to define the terms first. The executive in any nation state is that component of the system that is responsible for actualizing the decisions taken for administrative and political purposes. The government is the executive, which is tasked with implementing the decisions taken in the interests of the people.

In democracies, the party in power is part of the executive. The legislature is that arm of the system that is concerned with passing laws and acting as a representative of the people. In democracies, the legislature is very important as it is elected by the people and hence, the moral and legal right to act on their behalf. The third organ of the system is the judiciary, which acts as the arbiter of whether the executive and the legislature are acting in the interests of the nation. As can be seen from this discussion, the three arms of the nation state complement and supplement each other and the term “constitutional checks and balances” refers to the duties of these arms that are primarily to uphold the constitution.

Dynamics between the Three Components

The dynamics between the three arms of the nation state is what determines the conduct of the nation. For instance, in the United States, it is common for the legislature to act as a check on the executive and the judiciary to be the final court of appeal. In recent months, the Health Care Reform law that was ratified by the Congress and the Senate was contested legally and the Supreme Court ruled that the law was constitutional. Similarly, in the other large democracy, India, the three arms of the system often act to uphold the interests of the nation. However, in recent years, the judiciary in India has often taken upon itself the task that the executive must perform and this has been commented upon by many experts who interpreted this as a failure of the executive and the legislature. In other words, the key aspect here is that each of the components of the political economy of the nation state has to do their assigned work and not impinge on each other’s territory. Of course, it can be argued that in the absence of either the legislature or the executive performing their duties, the judiciary has to step in as otherwise there can be chaos in the country.

Upholding the Constitution must be the Ultimate Goal

As mentioned earlier, the arms of the nation state are all finally tasked with protecting and upholding the constitutional rights of the citizens and hence, the constitution is supreme as far as their actions are concerned. However, there have been many violations of the constitutional rights in countries around the world; the mature democracies ensure that ultimately the goal of upholding the constitution is paramount. For instance, the current turmoil in the Eurozone is because each of the member countries is interpreting the common currency union in its own way and hence, each country is unable to agree with the others. What exacerbates the situation is that because they have a common currency and they have a European Parliament as well and at the same time have individual constitutions, it becomes difficult for them to get on well with the other countries.

Closing Thoughts

Finally, it is in the interest of the democracies to have each of the arms functioning well and without infringing on the duties of the other. As can be seen in the way the examples cited here all have to do with how each arm of the democracy does its job, the conclusion is that for healthy democracies to flourish, there have to be checks and balances between these three arms and at the same time they have to work together to uphold the constitution.


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Political Science