MONTESQUIEU’S THEORY OF SEPARATION OF POWERS: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS

Author: Anumiri Obinna Justin
Department: Philosophy
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

Experience has shown that absolute power corrupts and gives rise to various kinds of autocratic tendencies. Baron de Montesquieu, a French Philosopher posited the theory of Separation of powers as a panacea to power abuse and arbitrariness in government. This theory subscribes to the idea that the three governmental powers should be invested on three different arms of government, namely, executive, legislative and judicial arms of government. In his L’Esprit Des Lois (The Spirit of
Laws), Montesquieu concludes that liberty would be lost and tyranny would reign supreme if the three governmental powers are not separated and wielded by three different personnel. The philosophical method of analysis is used in this research work to examine the theory of separation of power. Using this method to examine the application of this theory of separation of power, it will become glaringly clear that Montesquieu’s objective for advocating for it has not been completely realized in the countries that have developed constitutions predicated on this theory. There is still struggle for dominance, power abuse and power tussle among the three power holders. This research work suggests ways such as involvement of the citizens, use of referendum, plebiscite, commitment to the rule of laws and common interest in which power abuse among the three power holders can be stopped. Religion is also posited as an effective tool for checkmating the abuse of power.

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