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Around the world, different nations, which are enclosed by their own geographical boundaries, adhere to various different styles of government. Those styles may either be democratic or dictatorial. Within democratic styles of government, there are other different sub-styles such as direct democracies, representative democracies, bi cameral houses, unicameral houses etc. These governments are setup on both federal and provincial or state level along with a local government for each local within a state or province. How these government structures are organized from federal to local level vary from country to country. Likewise, the degree to which individual states and/or provinces enjoy their respective administrative autonomy also vary from country to country.
The United States of America is a constitutional republic constituting 52 states in itself and adheres to the representative democratic style of government. This means that the general public in the United States of America, on a federal level, elects the representatives who then vote on policy matters. The federal structure of the United States of America comprises of three branches that include a legislative branch, an executive branch and a judicial branch. The legislative branch is represented by The United States Congress, which is a bicameral setup comprising of the House of Representatives that consists around 435 voting representatives and The Senate that consists of about 100 senators (two senators from each states).
The executive powers of the federation lie with the president, who has the authority to accept or veto the legislations passed by the United States Congress. Moreover, the president also has executive powers over the countries armed forces and postal services. The Chief Executive Officer is the Secretary of State, who also heads the cabinet and other commissions and agencies.
The Judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court of the United States followed by the lower courts falling under its umbrella. The Supreme Court of United States handles constitutional matters and deals with cases and controversies pertaining to the state. It also enjoys the authority to declare any law passed by the legislative assembly at any given time as unconstitutional and can nullify the law.
While in general, the federal government structure is translated onto the state levels, the high degree of state autonomy enjoyed by individual states of America allows them to vary in government styles from one another and from the federal government structure, despite of operating under the same umbrella. For this reason some of the states in America adhere to their own individual government style. This paper evaluates different government patterns operational in three different states of the America, namely California, Louisiana and New York.
Direct Democracy in California
The government structure of California is more or less the same as that of the federal government comprising of three branches, i.e. The legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. Like the federal legislative branch, the legislative branch of California is also bicameral, comprising of an Assembly and a Senate. The executive powers lie with the governor of California. The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court of California with the lower courts falling under it.
What makes the government style of California slightly different from the federal system and many other states is the fact that California is purely a republic that operates as a 'direct democracy.' This means that people directly vote on policy matters and many other issues rather than the elected representatives voting on policy issues, as done in the representative democracy style of government. The general public cast their votes on policy matters through referendums that are held at state level by the governor. In the past, the state of California has passed various propositions independent of federal government and other states. Some examples of such propositions passed by public votes include ban on abortion, ban on gay marriages, funding of stem cell research, and even changing the primary election process.
In the recent past California has also experienced disputes over water rights, and tax revolts, where propositions were passed to limit the state property taxes. This means that voting power that vest with the general public is highly influential in determining the allocation of funds and smooth provision of services to the public. The system does not allow the state government to make any move that does not comply with the popular public sentiment. In a case otherwise, the general public tends to revolt against the government. While this is good for the empowerment of the general public, the system triggers severe threats of conflict to occur if votes over a certain issue are divided closely, with no single view having a significant majority (Staszewski, 2003). Many political critics view such a system in conservative context, accusing the system to be ignoring the rights of minorities. This is partially true and a flaw of the direct democratic system. Since propositions are passed on the basis of majority votes, it means the minority views, no matter how strongly they exist, would be ignored. Constant sidelining of minority groups might result in their alienation from the society and may lead to adverse socio-political effects such as protests and civil disobedience campaigns launched by minority groups.
French Governance Influences ion Louisiana
Louisiana, also popularly known as New France, is the most unique state in terms of legislation and government in the United States of America. This is because the strong Napoleonic influence on the Louisiana state that resulted in its inclination towards French and Spanish government systems. Before the nineteenth century, the region was commonly known as French Louisiana due to its discovery by the French exploration. Following the war of 1812, however, the United States of America purchased the region from Great Britain. While the state now politically falls under the jurisdiction of the United States of America, the imprints of the Napoleon code are still exiting in the legislative and government system of the state.
Unlike rest of the United States of America, and in a fashion similar to that of modern day France, the elections in Louisiana are held regardless of party affiliations with all election candidates running in a non-partisan election primary. If the election results are divided equally, with none of the candidates being successful in securing more than 50% of the total votes, then a run off elections are held after one month of the general elections. Since candidates contest the run off elections regardless of party affiliations, it is common that often a democrat contests the election against a fellow democrat and/or a republican contests the election against a fellow republican (Roumillat, 2007).
The singularity form of government with one party dominance that Louisiana adheres to has resulted in making the provision of services, law enforcement and allocation of funds, a complex task within the state. In the recent years, the state has recorded to have one of the highest crime rates in the United States of America. Since the state government is dominated by the republican representative, funds allocation becomes difficult towards a program that is a pro-democrat in either way. The state is usually reluctant to support any programs and/or policies that support the democrat view on either the state or federal level. This becomes a serious hindrance in passing propositions even if they are in the larger interest of the general public (Hiedenreich, 2003).
The complex system of government allows limited democratic powers to the genral public. The distribution of roles and responsibilities among government offices is very confusing and there is little communicative linkage between the government and the general public at ground level. This poses greater risks of conflicts and hinders the prompt addressing of the issues of the general public in an effective way. The severe and aggressive dominance of a single party often means that opinions of the minority views often go unheard or are repressed.
New York City Local Government
The New York City, unlike other state governments is organized under a mayor-council system. The three tier government structure is translated here like it is in the federation and all other states. The allocation of authorities and operational methods are different. The Mayor and the subsequent unicameral council that consists of 51 members are elected to a four-year term. The Mayor is the holder of the executive office and handles all the public works, services and agencies and ensures the provision of services. Just like cabinet system in the state and federal executive branches, a Mayor may appoint Deputy Mayors to head several public offices under him. The New York City is also geographically divided into five boroughs with each borough having its on popularly elected president.
The legislative branch is headed by the New York City Council and just like the state and federal executives, the mayor may accept or veto any bill passed by the city council. What differentiates the New York City legislative branch from most other legislative branches functioning with the United States of America is the fact that the New…[continue]
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