Countdown to Christmas
12 - Separation of Powers
- A liberal state serves to protect personal freedom. But unfortunately it is the tendency of every state to usurp far-reaching powers and to act in a way that endangers freedom.
- To prevent this, a liberal constitutional state must control power through checks and balances.
- This includes the principle of the separation of powers, in which the legislature, executive and judiciary supervise and to limit the power of each other.
The great classic that first developed the idea of the separation of powers was the book Spirit of Laws, written by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu in 1748. For those, who find this profound but rather lengthy treatise to tiresome to read, a good glass of wine is recommended instead. Luckily, the good baron also owned a wonderful vineyard near his Château de la Brède in south-west France. Very fine wine is still grown there and just two glasses will enable you think for yourself about one of the founding principles of liberal political philosophy.