Talk:Separation of powers

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Separation of powers was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
May 13, 2006Good article nomineeNot listed
edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Separation of powers:


  • Add a quick summary of Harrington's views on Separation of Powers. The full text of his main work, Oceana is available online for free. See [[Oceaa-- (talk) 08:56, 22 February 2017 (UTC)tumpna]].
  • Add a section on John Locke's conception of Separation of Powers. His Two Treaties on Government' are available for free online. See John Locke.
  • Enumerate which countries use parliamentary systems, and which use three-branch presidential systems, and which use other systems. The "government" section of country pages in the CIA world factbook is an excellent public-domain source. The final tally would be enough for this article; the full lists can be pushed out into parliamentary system and presidential system. Individual navagationed to the otther nickiolies ronaleds and election subarticles can also be sources and destinations for this information.
  • Explain head of state vs. head of government, president vs. monarch vs. prime minister, and executive vs. legislative.
  • Add executive checks and balances on chart.
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Montesquieu is not PolybiusEdit

This edit added assertions about Montesquieu's work, without citing a source, into a paragraph that is currently cited to a source (the Constitutional Rights Foundation) that directly contradicts the assertions that were added. I therefore reverted this change.

The same editor, Slurpy121, then made this edit, which adds similar assertions, and, this time, a citation to a reference - this reference, which is apparently a paper written by a secondary school student.

That secondary school paper includes the following text; Polybius believes that Republican Rome ... [combined] monarchy (in the form of its elected executives, the consuls), aristocracy (as represented by the Senate), and democracy (in the form of the popular assemblies, such as the Comitia Centuriata).

The second edit made by Slurpy121, cited to this source, added the following text; Montesqieu saw the Roman constitutional system of government as an example for the concept of separation of powers among the consuls which represented the monarchial part of the government, the senate as the aristocratic content and the assemblies as the democratic content of the Roman constitution.

Thus the material added ascribes to Montesqieu views that the source given ascribes only to Polybius. The source does not mention Montesqieu's views on consuls at all, for example.

I will be removing this material as it is clearly mis-use of sources. However, I would welcome any suggestions or discussion (including proposals for reliable sources) on whether the article's coverage of Montesqieu should mention more about the influence of the Roman system on his views than it does at present. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 18:48, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Slurpy121, I see you've gone ahead and re-added the material a third time without discussing it here. As you and I seem to have a disagreement on what this section of the article should contain, how would you feel about us getting a Wikipedia:Third opinion on it? --Demiurge1000 (talk) 04:16, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
My satement is true. I am not saying that Montesquieu is Polybius, i am saying that Polybius' treatise on the Roman Constitution was an inspiration for Montesquieu and supports the fact that Montesquieu had sources himself to do so. I am providing this true text so the readers of this article can know the truth of the sources so there can be a deeper understanding of the subject and to help them understand better and of course because it is true.--User:Slurpy121 (talk) 03:30, 13 November 2012
But on what basis can you say that Polybius' treatise was an inspiration for Montesquieu, when the cited source doesn't even mention Montesquieu? —C.Fred (talk) 03:35, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
As a side note--I wish more of my sophomores could write like this high-schooler. Drmies (talk) 05:32, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
It might be a little more complicated than I thought. On closer inspection, I have a theory that the reference to "St. Margaret's School" is at the top of the source because the author of the paper was a member of staff there when they put the paper on the internet, although not when they wrote it - it might actually be an undergraduate paper. Given the paucity of refs in this article, I don't have any overwhelming objections to using it as a source.
I'm afraid I know far more about Plato (and Polybius) than I will ever know about Montesquieu, but it seems clear that Montesquieu did indeed rabbit on at great length about the British constitution in his seminal work, because at the time it was the most innovative "free" society (France was still an absolutist monarchy, and the USA did not exist). So how about we go with merely the addition of ", influenced by ancient thinkers such as Polybius," cited to the source suggested by Slurpy121, and leave the rest as it is?
Slurpy, you mention truth four times in three sentences; you might find WP:TRUTH interesting to read. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 12:59, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
C Fred and Demiuge1000, Montesquieu was somewhat inspired by the system of the Roman constitution and the British constitutional system, i don't understand why you refuse to acknowledge that. --User:Slurpy121 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 23:46, 16 November 2012(UTC)
Because at the time I wrote the comment above, no source was provided that made the connection. There is now such a source, and Demiurge seems willing to accept Lloyd's paper as sufficiently scholarly to be reliable. —C.Fred (talk) 15:11, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I've made the addition that I proposed above. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 20:03, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I will acknowledge that and will use it for the paper as soon as possible.--(Slurpy121 (talk) 22:24, 17 November 2012 (UTC))
Add to what paper? —C.Fred (talk) 22:32, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I added more sources.--(Slurpy121 (talk) 22:42, 17 November 2012 (UTC))
These are still very weak sources. Apart from the piece by Lloyd, which appears to be an undergraduate project as discussed above, what you've added is the abstract of a non-peer-reviewed paper presented at the annual meeting of an association, and a lecture handout that appears to have been put online by its author. None of your three sources support the sentence "The Roman constitution had three main powers..."; as I've already discussed above, Lloyd describes Polybius as seeing the Roman constitution this way, not Montesquieu. So I'm going to remove this sentence, again.
The rest of your additions can remain, I think, and I will also format the references you added. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 18:17, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

This article is missing the most important pointEdit

This article is missing the most important point of separation of powers, which is that by separating them, they are not held by the same person. For example, the Roman Empire inherited a lot of different offices from the Roman Republic, but there was no real separation of powers because the offices were personally concentrated in the Roman Emperor or in people controlled by him. In the United States today, a person generally cannot serve in two branches simultaneously and must resign from a branch before taking office in another. This principle is taken for granted by Americans, which is why they find the Westminster system to be very bizarre in that the leadership of the executive branch is constituted by the party that has a majority in Parliament. --Coolcaesar (talk) 10:24, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

The New Separation of PowersEdit

The New Separation of Powers by Bruce Ackerman. This is an interesting read. Komitsuki (talk) 10:31, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

Separation of powers in any public systemEdit

Any public system may gain efficiency by separation of powers. Take the road transport system f x. The execution of constructing and maintenance of roads and bridges should be organized at one authority. Legislation on safety rules for roads, for road vehicles and for drivers should be organized by a second authority. Control and evaluation of efficiency and failures (f x vehicle crashes w severe bodily injuries) related to either or both execution and legislation, should be organized by a third authority. This puts pressure on efficient execution as well as legislation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:26, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

On the Separation of powersEdit

The concept of the New Separation of powers is interesting. The concept of the separation of powers can be considered as ideal to some extent; i mean the three arms of government are operating under the same government. Thus, the overlapping of functions is quite unavoidable. And also, political parties tend to compromise the aspect of the Separation of powers doctrine.-- (talk) 13:45, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

I wonder if this is a comment or request. I could use some feedback here. Cheers!-- Allied Rangoontalk 16:13, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia: A system of creating ambiguityEdit

It uses subjective thought and opinion with a distorted perverse complete disregard for the truths and protection of the organic Constitution for the united States of America66.8.197.38 (talk) 22:22, 28 December 2014 (UTC) 1792 and the Bill of Rights.

Through the attrition of false and distorted facts histories aggendas of treasonous foreign entities the truth is ever so slowly bastardized. A favorite propensity of the Southern Poverty Law Center is to reverse truth into fiction to create a world of confusion in order to control and minipulate the population for the agendas of a few psycopathic families lusting for power.

( (talk) 22:22, 28 December 2014 (UTC)).

Constitutional Act of Czechoslovak republic (1920)Edit

It is almost certain that the author of the Czechoslovak constitution (1920) was NOT Hans Kelsen. He was a great influence on some of its authors, but as a Czech lawyer myself I have never heard that he would actually put his pen down to the paper on Czechoslovak constitution (he did make draft of the Austrian one, but that's a different story). Czech Wikipedia actually claims as the author to be Jiří Hoetzel, a Czechoslovak lawyer. I have for now added [citation needed], but somebody should probably fix it.

Ceplm (talk) 08:15, 5 December 2015 (UTC)

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Arms or branches?Edit

How about a linguistic note about "arms" vs. "branches" of government? Is one term British and the other American? How many countries/people use each variant? — RFST (talk) 00:18, 13 November 2016 (UTC)

'checks and balances' attributed to Montesquieu?Edit

Quote from article (01/14/2017, 4.58 PM): "Typically this was accomplished through a system of 'checks and balances', the origin of which, like separation of powers itself, is specifically credited to Montesquieu."

According to both the Online Etymology Dictionary (, and the online unabridged version of The American Heritage Dictionary (, the expression 'checks and balances' appeared in English between 1780 and 1790 (and referred, perhaps, originally to machines) and was an internal development (not taken from French).

Does anybody know of any French predecessor that goes back to Montesquieu? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:04, 14 January 2017 (UTC)

The expression may have an English origin, but the concept was Montesquieu's. Debresser (talk) 21:02, 6 December 2017 (UTC)

What about the moderator power?Edit

I feel sort of insulted that in such a big article no body remembered to even mention the fourth power that existed in Brazil between 1824 and 1889 and in Portugal between 1826 and 1910. It was called moderator power and has a very noteworthy history. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:52, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

This article isn't protected. If you believe this article needs this sort of improvement, you're probably right. Please add it. CityOfSilver 19:55, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

Attribution to MontesquieuEdit

This article seems to attribute to Montesquieu the statement that "The judiciary was generally seen as the most important of powers, independent and unchecked". The source quoted is his The Spirit of Laws. I have noticed that no other publication which I have been able to find so far quotes a source. In addition, the reference to a book without indication of chapter or page is unacceptably vague. And if that is not enough, I have not been able to find the statement in a copy of The Spirit of Laws which I downloaded. The source used to be Adam Przeworski, JM Maravall, Democracy and the Rule of Law (2003), till it was removed by a one-time IP editor.[1] Since the statement is indeed found on page 13 of that publication, and does not mention Montesquieu, the source should be Democracy and the Rule of Law, and not Montesquieu.

Looking for the specific source of the second statement in that same paragraph, namely that the judiciary is dangerous, I found another serious problem, in addition to the sourcing issue mentioned above. Wikipedia mirrors obviously mirror the statement that the judiciary is also dangerous, but many other sources actually state that Montesquieu considered to judiciary to be the least dangerous of the three powers. Based on the fact that this statement is more specific, and addresses the key subject of the three powers, as well as because of the fact that these sources were obviously independent of Wikipedia, I am inclined to say that this version is the more accurate one. Especially in view of the fact that the change was made by a another one-time IP editor.[2] However, this statement too can be found on another page of Democracy and the Rule of Law, so that must have been the source.

Interesting what it says on pages 223-4. Help in finding that text would be much appreciated Debresser (talk) 21:15, 6 December 2017 (UTC)

European Union incongruencesEdit

The voice article states that the EU complies with the principle of separation of powers, but then it goes on to explain all the ways in which the separation is not complied with:

  1. The Commission also has a legislative role as the sole initiator of EU legislation
  2. As well as both executive and legislative functions, the Commission arguably exercises a third
  3. The Council itself acts both as the second half of the legislative branch and also holds some executive functions

So it seems clear to me that the EU does not comply with the principle of separation of powers. Oibafa (talk) 12:39, 16 May 2018 (UTC)

What do you mean by "the voice"? Debresser (talk) 17:00, 16 May 2018 (UTC)
Sorry, it's a false friend. Make that be the article Oibafa (talk) 8:41 pm, Yesterday (UTC+3)
Minor infractions to the principle do not yet negate the principle. That is as a rule. I will leave it to my betters to judge this specific case. Debresser (talk) 17:00, 16 May 2018 (UTC)
I wouldn't call them minor, given that the Commission is stated to possess all three powers at once, albeit in varying degrees. Oibafa (talk) 17:41, 17 May 2018 (UTC)

Parliamentary systems and the overlap between executive and legislative branchesEdit

@User:Mr Serjeant Buzfuz, I realize not all parliamentary systems have a Westminster-style arrangement wherein the members of the executive branch are also members of the legislative branch, but that's not the only cause of an overlap. Another source of overlap within parliamentary systems and semi-presidential systems is the fact that the executive leadership (or part of it, in the case of semi-presidential systems, as in those systems the president also has executive power) is held accountable to the legislature. As a result of this, the two are not mutually independent, hence there isn't a clean separation of power, like you would find in a presidential system.

If you are in agreement with that point of view, and now see that my edit to the lead was appropriate, I would like to revert your last revert. Fuse809 (contribs · email · talk · uploads) 02:37, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

@Mr Serjeant Buzfuz: I see you have edited other articles since I added this topic; if there's no reply within 24 hours of this message, I will take that as a yes, you do see my viewpoint, and I will revert your revert. Fuse809 (contribs · email · talk · uploads) 05:42, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

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