What is the separation of powers and how has it been criticised

The separation of powers is a theory of government whereby political power is distributed among three branches of government- the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The three branches act both independently and interdependently. This theory has been criticised for a number of reasons. Firstly, it can place the executive in a position of gridlock when trying to pass legislation.

Since, due to the separation of powers, the president is not drawn from the legislature, the president’s party may not have a majority in the legislature. This means that disputes between the Republicans and Democrats can result in the president not being able to pass through legislation, which results in gridlock, and can even cause a government shut down. This occurred in 2013 in which the two main parties disagreed on the way the country’s funding should be spent and obamacare which caused a government shutdown.

This is a major problem as it prevents the government from carrying out their manifesto and improving the country. Also, due to the ambiguity of the US constitution, much interpretation is needed. As a result, there is the possibility that the three branches may have completely different interpretations because each branch would want to interpret in the constitution in a way that benefits their particular branch. This can lead to much conflict between the three branches.

Finally, disagreement between branches gives more power to pressure groups. This is because the separation of powers means that there isn’t usually a party with an overall majority in the legislature so congress is often divided on issues. Pressure groups therefore have a greater influence on political issues as they often influence the way House and Senate members vote by contacting them directly or having strong campaigns.