Understanding the Legislative Process
Compare the functions of legislatures in democratic, authoritarian, and totalitarian regimes. In those regimes that reflect executive dictatorship why is it so important for their leaders to have a legislative assembly approve their initiatives?
The legislature is considered one of the fundamental organs of the government irrespective of whether the government is totalitarian, democratic or authoritarian.
Legislature in Democratic Regime
The legislature in a democratic regime, notwithstanding his side of the political divide can sponsor a bill. This bill will be subjected to a political debate and upon successful and conclusive debate and if it secures the support of the majority, the president will be presented with the bill of which he will sign into law. In countries that have embraced modern democracy, the functions of the legislature have undergone radical evolution like taking the responsibility of critiquing the executive incase of any abuse of power or any impropriety.
Also in governments that subscribe to the tenets of democracy, the legislature can scrutinize government policies like the budget or any presidential nomination that might require parliamentary approval. This power of the legislature to endorse presidential appointments have been practiced in countries like Netherlands, Canada, France and the United States of America.
Furthermore, the legislature in a democratic regime is bestowed with the task of amending the constitution and also making, repealing and endorsing the laws of the country. The duty to amend the constitution squarely lay with parliament and this makes it a supreme arm of the government due to the fact that it is the only institution that can make, amend and repeal laws that includes the constitution.
The legislature, also in a democratic country has the mandate of rejecting any legislation that is not consistent with the needs of the country. In democratic governments furthermore, legislatures are tasked with checking the presidency and they may bring a vote of no confidence or impeach the head of state or government incase the president does not act or govern according to the constitution.
The committee system of parliamentary proceedings that is widely practiced in democratic regimes like the USA is responsible for analyzing legislation. In Canada for example the reports of the auditor general are implemented by parliament.
Parliaments in advanced democratic regimes have the responsibility of supervising the behavior of executive officials. The constitution of the United States of America for example bestow the congress with powers to impeach the president and other civil officer if they contravene the constitution, this is arrived at, based on the evidence presented, a two third majority is enough to convict a state officer.
Legislature in Authoritarian Regime
The legislature in the authoritarian regime is more often than not a puppet organ of the government; they are often used as a rubber stamp. Like in majority of developing countries like Uganda, members of parliament ask questions concerning issues and matters affecting their constituents, this has often been considered a public relation exercise since these questions may not address the specific issues that the citizens face. The open debate which is often characteristic of authoritarian regimes is geared towards appeasing donors and the international community. Most of the bills and motions debated by these legislatures may have been already decreed by the executive.
Legislature in Totalitarian Regimes
The legislature in totalitarian regime just convenes irregularly and they are only used to perpetuate the policies of an unpopular government that is often by a dictatorial president. They only exist to serve the purpose of representation and law making. Instead of the legislature checking the executive as in democratic regimes, in totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, the legislature can used to legitimizing and institutionalizing government in place (Guy 176).
The Dictatorial governments require the consent of legislature in order to legitimize their existence and hold on power and also to justify their non-existent democracy.
In what ways can it be argued that Parliament is an unrepresentative institution of Canadians? Are these valid criticisms? Why or why not? Discuss whether Senate reform would benefit the implementation of public policy in Canada.
Yes, it is true that the parliament in Canada is not representative, this is exemplified by the senate whose composition comprise of those regions having people from the large. The Canada’s legislative assembly by 1867 had 181 representatives representing 3.2 million people. The Québec which form the majority in Canada are favored in the representation at the expense of other regions.
The quest for the reformation of the Canadian senate picked u in the year 1990s. The two basic reforms required for the senate are the term limit and the consultative election since their appointments. These two reforms based on my opinion had positive impact in the formulation and implementation of public policy. The reform that sought to limit the term of senators to a one eight year term was important in the ensuring continuity of public policies and also to provide them with substantial time to formulate policies. Since the senators could not be driven by their interest for re election, they will formulate policies which are for the interest of the nation and the citizens.
The senate reform concerning their manner of election is also critical, this is because the previous policy of appointing and electing will provide them with democratic authority and their loyalty will be to the people and the state and not to the appointing authority. This will hinder them from formulating and implementing policies that only please their appointing authority as opposed to the general citizens.
The Administration of Government
Explain the origin and meaning of the term bureaucracy. Discuss Max Weber’s characteristics of bureaucracy. Are they still relevant today? Is bureaucracy an inevitable part of the modern age? Could we survive with less of it?
The term bureaucracy is as old as mankind itself and it was first introduced as an instrument of administration. The realization that it was fundamental to regulate human behavior led to growing prominence of bureaucracy; also the realization that the provision of basic services likes health, security and education prompted the introduction of bureaucracy into the governance system. The modern bureaucracy in a modern state was first practiced in Prussia where Fredrick William organized an administrative corps unit referred as the public service and has later came to be known as professional public service. The present Canadian and the USA bureaucracy was an hereditary system from the Great Britain.
Bureaucracy is defined as the professional corps of government officials that are organized in a hierarchical manner and which can function under the prescribed code of rules and procedures.
Characteristics of Bureaucracy according to Max Weber
Meritocracy-based employment: employment based on meritocracy ensures that all employees perform their predetermined duties effectively and efficiently and also to be protected from any random removal from office.
Impersonal relationship: This is to ensure that employees are treated uniformly and organizational relationship should not be affected by individual differences.
Division of labor: with bureaucracy, employment is based on qualification and expertise to enable performs specific tasks which are aimed at achieving efficiency of the outcome for proper functioning of the government. Performing specific tasks by particular people will lead to the growth of highly skilled labor who can achieve maximum efficiency in their field. Division of labor leads to specialization that is achieved through definition of duties and responsibilities.
Hierarchical structure: bureaucracy has a defined chain of authority which is characterized by impersonal relationship. This type of authority is the inferior-superior relationship; a typical bureaucracy according to Weber must have a definite hierarchy of authority. This ensures centralized decision making
Rigid rules and regulations: This is considered an inherent characteristic of bureaucracy; for bureaucracy to achieve its objectives, it should have defined system of rules and regulation governing human behavior. This rules and regulations are often rigid and inflexible. Availability of rules allows decisions made at higher level to be executed by the subordinates.
The model of Weber on bureaucracy is prominent in modern organization. Various governments operate on the Weber’s model, this is because governments’ would wish to ensure that the bureaucracy remains politically neutral in their administration of duties and act as a basis of continuity of government irrespective of the political party and government that comes to power.
Bureaucracy is indispensable in this modern age; this because their functions are so critical especially that of implementing government policies. In times of political transition, bureaucracy ensures that the functions and continuity of government operation and policies are uninterrupted. Whatever the character of the regime, bureaucracy keeps the government’s memory.
These three fundamental functions of bureaucracy; the continuity of government, formulation of government policies and execution of government policies make it an inevitable organ of government.
It is generally agreed that a sharp distinction can no longer be drawn between politics and administration in modern political systems. Discuss why the “expert knowledge” of the professional administrator is needed for the formulation of sound public policy. Should the public be concerned that unelected government employees have such powerful position in formulating public policy? Do you believe that only elected politicians should formulate the laws that govern us?
Politics and administration have been intertwined in the modern political establishments. Expert knowledge is quite necessary in the formulation of public policies as compared to elected officials because bureaucrats or the experts are impartial, neutral and non-partisan and as such they are unable to make partisan and government compliant policies. Unlike the elected officials who owe allegiance to the electorate, the bureaucrats owe their allegiance to the government. Since the elected officials may formulate policies that favor the people they represent, the bureaucrats make rules that benefit the entire political system, and they formulate policies that are good for the general public.
The public always do not raise concerns regarding the fact that the unelected government employees have the power in formulation of government policies. This is because the bureaucrats have wide knowledge and experience to formulate policies unlike the elected government officials who are limited by term limits and they may only formulate short term policies. Most citizens agree that the bureaucrats serve the interests of different governments and since they are responsible for the government memory, they should be given the responsibility to formulate policies that govern the state and not particular government or political party.
In my opinion, I strongly oppose that elected government officials be allowed formulating public polices. This is because elected official are representative of a particular constituency and their allegiance is to the president and not the public. As such their interests are to fulfill the demands of those people they represent. Consequently elected government officials are members and agents of particular political parties; this therefore implies that they represent the sectarian and partisan interests of their political parties and the policies they may formulate may be geared towards increasing their chance of capturing political power and not for the interests of the public.
Consequently, the elected officials should not be allowed to formulate public policy because of the term limit factor; elected official are governed by term limits and they may not be in position to formulate long term policies because of uncertainty governing their leadership and tenure unlike the bureaucrats who serve the government till retirement age. Hence the efforts of the elected officials to formulate laws should be supplemented by the bureaucrats.
Law and the Courts
Think about the concepts of custom, ethics, justice, and law. Why are they related and why must they be distinguished?
Law: Law is the set of rules and regulations that are applied in a particular state and intended to regulate human behavior and are enforced through particular institutions.
Customs: Customs on the other hand is a long established practice that is followed by particular group of people
Ethics: Ethics is understood to mean rules or morals governing the conduct of an individual or the members of a particular group or profession.
Justice: Justice is understood as the quality of being fair, moral, right and upholding what is truth and just in accordance with the standards of law.
There is a relationship between the above concepts in such a way that law is the ultimate stricture that governs the prescribed behavior of human beings. Consequently the relationship between custom, ethics and justice is that violation of the entire three can only enforceable through a legal system. The three also are laws since they guide human behavior and govern human coexistence.
Furthermore the above concepts are related when defined along their functions. They concern human behavior. What distinguishes custom from law is the degree of obligation.
Review the functions of the judicial branch of government. Discuss on what grounds it is possible to justify the view that law is not, and cannot be, a matter of defining a simple concept with one simple meaning. What are some of the reasons why law is not easily equated with principles of universal justice?
The judiciary also formulates laws that govern human behavior. In many jurisdiction formulation of law is the responsibility of the legislature but there are laws that originate from the judiciary like the judicial decisions which have become widely accepted over the world this is otherwise referred as judicial precedent.
Judiciary is also responsible for the administration of justice. Courts decide cases; aggrieved individuals always seek redress in courts in trying to resolve their disputes, in particular jurisdiction in case of election disputes the courts conduct voter recount to verify the results and the winner.
The responsibility of the judicial arm of the government is to interpret the constitutions. In the United States of America courts examine constitutionality of any case before deciding it. The role of interpreting the constitution in the United States of America is the province of the Supreme Court.
Definition and understanding of the law can not be achieved with one meaning; this is because there are different kinds of law that are applied in various jurisdictions. The application of these laws is diverse and varies greatly. There is for example the Islamic law, the English common law are both set of laws and are applicable in different jurisdiction. Despite that they both regulate human behavior, they vary in the context of application and to be able to understand the law fully requires one to distinguish the law to be applied.
The law can not be equated with the principle of universal justice. This is because different laws are applied in different jurisdiction. The dynamism of laws together with its varying applicability and lack of conventional understanding of universal justice has clouded the misunderstanding of the connection between law and universal justice; Unlike the definition and understanding of justice which in rare circumstance changes, law keeps on changing (Guy 232).
Guy, John. People, Politics, and Government. 7th ed. Ontario: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.