Harnessing Distrust and the Power of Intercession for the Separation of Powers


  • Yann Allard-Tremblay University of Alberta




In what follows, I reflect on themes arising from my reading of Jacob Levy’s The Separation of Powers and the Challenge to Constitutional Democracy. According to Levy, the separation of powers in contemporary constitutional democracies is failing, thus endangering the rule of law. Briefly, this is because political parties have bridged the gap between the legislature and the executive: by giving rise to partisan politics that cross the institutional divide, political parties have dampened, if not disabled, the institutional incentive and motivation of the legislature to keep the executive in check. Furthermore, when this is combined with the myth of the united and undifferentiated people, which the executive, populistically, can easily claim to embody, the simple act of opposing the executive may be framed as seditious. In the end, the power of the executive is set free by the partisan loyalty of fellow party members and by the framing of opposition as disloyal and deleterious to the polity.