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Why and how have liberals supported the fragmentation of political power? (15)

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Introduction

´╗┐Why and how have liberal supported the fragmentation of political power? (15) In the liberal view, power tends to corrupt human beings as they believe humans are essentially self-seeking and are therefore likely to use any position of power to pursue their own interests, probably at the expense of others. The greater the concentration of power, the greater the incentive people have to both benefit themselves and use others to this end. This is why absolute power plus egoism leads to corruption and one of the reasons why liberals have supported the fragmentation of political power. A quote by Lord Acton was that ?power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely? Liberals therefore fear arbitrary government and uphold the principle of limited government. Liberals believe government can be limited through the establishment of constitutional constraints and by democracy. Liberals believe in the fragmentation of political power as it has many advantages. It ensures that those who exercise power have only a limited ability to influence other citizens, thus preventing absolute power. ...read more.

Middle

Liberals have supported the fragmentation of political power by having a constitution. A constitution is a set of rules that govern the government itself and defines the extent of government power and limits its exercise. The power of government bodies and politicians can be limited by external and legal constraints. A codified constitution codifies the major powers and responsibilities of government institutions within a single authorative document. A codified constitution codifies higher law. The first codified constitution was the US constitution but now all liberal democracies have one except for the UK, Israel and New Zealand. Another way it supports the fragmentation of political power is through the bill of rights. This entrenches individual rights by providing a legal definition of the relationship between the individual and the state. This limits government power by limiting their control over the actions of the individual and protects individual liberty. Where there is no codified constitution or bill of rights liberals stress the importance of statute law in checking government power through the principle of the rule of law. ...read more.

Conclusion

The democratic solution to conflict is the application of the majority rule which liberals describe as tyranny of the majority. Majoritarianism would have a great effect on elections and referendums as governments could be elected that are in fact unwanted by many individuals and decisions in referendums could go against what many individuals want, thereby permitting government to do things that individuals do not want. Individual liberty and majority rights can be crushed in the name of the people. The best defence against majoritarianism is a network of checks and balances that would make government responsive to competing minorities. Democracy limits government through consent and the idea that citizens must have a means of protecting themselves from the encroachment of government. Utilitarian theorists developed the notion of democracy as a form of protection for the individual into a case for universal suffrage. Utilitarianism implies that individuals will vote so as to defend their interests as they define them. Therefore the government elected is most likely the one wanted by individuals, ensuring that they are still in control. Therefore we can now see how and why liberal have supported the fragmentation of power. ...read more.

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