The separation of powers is widely regarded as one of the pillars of a constitutional democracy. Its essence is that governmental powers should be divided so that no single person or body can exercise unlimited power and each branch of government requires the cooperation of the others. Article 16 of the (French) Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789) states that ‘a society where rights are not secured or the separation of powers established has no constitution’. The best-known version of the doctrine is that of Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws (1748), who adapted Locke’s version (Section 2.3.2). Montesquieu divided government powers into legislative power: which he described as ‘that of enacting laws’, executive power: ‘executing the public resolutions’, and judicial power: ‘trying the causes of individuals’ (Book XI, ch VI, 174). (Locke’s version had merged judiciary and executive and separated the conduct of foreign affairs (the federative power).) Montesquieu based his version on the English constitution following the 1688 revolution. The legislature (Parliament, in the case of the UK) makes the laws; the judiciary settles disputes and imposes sanctions for breaking the law.
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