Who abuses their power in a democracy

Separation of powers

Distribution of legislation (legislative), law enforcement (executive) and jurisdiction (judiciary) to three different state organs, namely the parliament, the government and an independent judiciary. In modern parliamentary democracies, such as in the Federal Republic of Germany, this classic form of separation of powers only exists in a modified form.
Just like the kings back then, dictators still fill three posts at once: they are head of government, supreme legislature and supreme judge in one person. A good 300 years ago, philosophers considered such concentrated power in one hand to be very dangerous. In order to protect citizens from abuse of power, they came up with the idea of ​​a separation of powers. The government (executive), legislation (legislative) and judiciary (judiciary) should be distributed among different organs in the state, namely the king (head of government) who governs, an elected parliament who makes the laws, and judges who rule according to the laws Dispense justice. All of these three organs should be independent of one another and control one another.

The separation of powers is a hallmark of every real democracy today. First and foremost, the courts must be independent from the government and only obey the law. In Germany, the highest court, the Federal Constitutional Court (part of the judicial branch), the Federal Chancellor (part of the executive branch) and also the Bundestag (part of the legislative branch) can stop if they do or decide something that violates the constitution.

However, in a parliamentary republic like the Federal Republic of Germany, the executive and legislative branches are no longer opposing each other. On the contrary: They are intertwined in terms of personnel (entanglement of powers): A parliamentary majority, the governing coalition, elects a member of parliament as head of government (Federal Chancellor) who nevertheless remains a member of parliament. Of course, the governing coalition sees no reason to control "their" government in the first place, rather it supports it wherever it can. Because this government is supposed to translate the political programs and ideas of the parliamentary majority into practical politics.

The role of the adversary and, in essence, the role of the government controller has been transferred from parliament as a whole to the opposition. In this respect, it is an indispensable element of the democratic system.

In addition to what has been described above, there are other forms of separation of powers in Germany. State tasks are distributed between the Federation and the Länder; the Länder are involved in federal legislation. In everyday life, competing parties and associations control each other. Because the press is free, the mass media can also draw attention to abuse of power in the state or in society - often with resounding success.

Source: Thurich, Eckart: pocket politik. Democracy in Germany. revised New edition Bonn: Federal Agency for Civic Education 2011.