Choose two democratic foreign nations with differing governmental institutions and answer the following questions.
- How is each nation’s legislature, executive, and high court/judicial system structured (presidential vs. parliamentary executive, bicameral vs. unicameral legislature, adversarial vs. inquisitorial judicial system, etc.)? How does each institution function?
- How is power divided within or between each institution? What kinds of powers does each institution have within the nation’s governmental structure?
- How are the members of each institution elected and/or appointed? How much influence does public opinion/vote have on each institution?
Comparative Analysis of Differing Government Institutions – Germany And India
Government institutions provide a semblance of order for countries seeking to fulfill their administrative duties. They have been honed over extend periods to develop approaches that work and suited for a culture in a specific jurisdiction. This comparative analysis will focus on Germany and India, two democratic nations with different governmental institutions.
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The Federal Republic of Germany is a sovereign European nation comprising 16 constituent states. It is a paragon of democracy in its western-central location, with its seat of power located in the capital Berlin. It adheres to the principles of a federal parliamentary republic in establishing government institutions for administrative purposes
Germany’s legislature comprises of a bicameral parliament; the lower (Bundestag) and upper house (Bundesrat). Both houses have sweeping powers that allow them to discuss and initiate crucial bills before final approval. The federal government is responsible for introducing the bills for review, which allows the two houses to collaborate in the appraisal process. Differences are resolved by the Joint Conference Committee, which strives to ensure that both houses liaise when conducting legislative duties (Johnson, 2013, p. 62). The Bundestag is responsible for legal programs and checking executive power. On the other hand, the Bundesrat holds subordinate legal authority but strives to serve administrative roles. Members are elected by the electorate, which is also why public opinion weighs heavily on members.
The Federal President of Germany is the de facto head of the country and the executive wing of government. Political matters and handled by the Federal Chancellor, who makes most of the public appearances and functions as the face of the government. The Federal President is responsible for providing the government with a sense of direction and guides political debates as they relate to the governing party. The Federal Chancellor is the head of government and elected by the lower House of Representatives (Bundestag). The country’s parliamentary system stipulates that a Federal Chancellor enjoys security of tenure and cannot be removed from their position before the end of a four-year term. Although public opinion matters to both the Federal President and Chancellor, both offices deal with fundamental matters of governance and have the last say on contentious issues.
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Judicial System Structure
The structure of the judicial system in Germany is steeped in its rich civil law tradition. It encompasses a three-court system; ordinary, specialized and constitutional courts. They all enjoy the judiciary’s independence that underscores the importance of the rule of law in governance. The German judiciary emphasizes the importance of equality in governance, where the executive allows citizens to participate in amending statutes. Principles of Roman law define this judicial system with clear codes that guide abstract legal standards (Johnson, 2013). Judges are not appointed from a list of qualified attorneys, as is typically the case in most countries but required to follow a specific career path before being confirmed by a superior judicial council. The complex nature of this arm of government means that it is now swayed by public opinion but depends heavily upon the interpretation of the law to draw legal conclusions.
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The Republic of India is one of the last remaining true democracies in South East Asia. It adheres to federalism in an attempt to distribute legal authority in the country. The federal structure is enshrined in the Constitution of India and a model for other countries in the region.
The Parliament of India is the institution tasked with legislation in India. It is bicameral, with two main houses; the Council of States (Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha). The legislature is headed by the President who can summon, prorogue or dissolve either house upon consulting with the Union Council of Ministers. The President also has the power to appoint and nominate Members of Parliament (MPs) to both houses to ensure that critical laws are passed on time. The citizens elect members of the lower house (Lok Sabha) during election time, which is why public opinion is taken seriously within the legislature. The upper house (Rajya Sabha) cannot be dissolved by the President and made up of members elected to state legislative bodies.
Administration in India is the sole responsibility of the executive arm of government. It also oversees state bureaucracy and headed by the President of India. The President exercises his mandate by following the Prime Minister’s advice as spelt out in Article 74 of the constitution (Chakrabarty & Pandey, 2015, p. 87). The Electoral College elects the President, who then proceeds to appoint high officials to serve under various capacities. As the de jure head of state, the President is independent in his opinion on national matters and supported in his role by the vice president. The Prime Minister serves as an adviser and the leader of the majority in parliament and appointed by the President. Additionally, the Prime Minister headed the cabinet and supported in his role by the Cabinet Secretary. The nature of this arrangement means that public opinion rarely influences this structure, although criticism is often taken under consideration.
The judicial system in India is headed by the Chief Justice, who is at the helm of the Supreme Court. It consists of 30 justices who are appointed by the President and make all relevant rulings devoid of advice from the jury (Ghosh, 2014). The judicial system adheres to a unitary system headed by the Supreme Court. An appeal court listens to verdicts by other state courts and issues a final pronouncement on cases. The Supreme Court is also tasked with making certain that it enforces the fundamental rights of all Indian citizens. Public opinion cannot sway decisions made by the judiciary since it is responsible for interpreting the law.
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