Countervailing power, or countervailance, is the idea in political theory of institutionalized mechanisms that the wielding of power within a polity having two or more centers can, and often does, provide counter-forces that usefully oppose each other.
Countervailance in formal political theory dates back at least to Medieval times, especially in Roman Catholic and early Protestant movements, not all of which were successful in achieving their own ends. The Conciliar Movement, although ultimately ending in failure to reform the Catholic church, "raised issues that are fundamental in all domains of social organization, and it contributed to the understanding of the general principle of countervailance, which eventually became the foundation of modern constitutionalism."
This political organization stands in contrast to polities such as principalities where "various princes were absolute rulers in their domain"or in modern examples of totalitarian governments.
In the 20th century, "Countervailing Power" is a theory of political modification of markets, formulated by American economist John Kenneth Galbraith in his 1952 book American Capitalism . In the classic liberal economy, goods and services are provided and prices set by free bargaining. According to Galbraith, modern economies give massive powers to large business corporations to bias this process, and there arise 'countervailing' powers in the form of trade unions, citizens' organizations and so on, to offset business's excessive advantage.On page 126 of this book, Galbraith elaborates on countervailing power in the sphere of economics when he states:
"The development of countervailing power requires a certain minimum opportunity and capacity for organization, corporate or otherwise. If the large retail buying organizations had not developed the countervailing power which they have used, by proxy, on behalf of the individual consumer, consumers would have been faced with the need to organize the equivalent of the retailer's power. This would have been a formidable task but it has been accomplished in Scandinavia where the consumer's co-operative, instead of the chain store, is the dominant instrument of countervailing power in consumers' goods markets."
Seventeenth century England was an active time for the development of countervailance theory. Although much political discourse during the period was focused on the matter of sovereignty, or absolutism for the sovereign as, for example, we observe in the writings of Thomas Hobbes, the principle "significance of seventeenth-century England for constitutional theory was that during this period the concept of sovereignty was replaced by the concept of checks and balances."The evolution of political practice in England paralleled the evolution in theory, for it was during this period that "the operational dynamics of the system developed in accordance with the countervailance model of government." While the trend reversed somewhat under the power of Oliver Cromwell and the era of the later Stuarts, and was therefore rather uneven over the flow of the 17th century, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 "firmly established the principles of dispersed power and checks and balances as the central pillars of English constitutionalism."
A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation or other type of entity and commonly determine how that entity is to be governed.
A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state, but also other entities, for example, a company.
A state is a polity under a system of governance. There is no undisputed definition of a state. A widely used definition from the German sociologist Max Weber is that a "state" is a polity that maintains a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, although other definitions are not uncommon.
Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies. In political theory, sovereignty is a substantive term designating supreme legitimate authority over some polity. In international law, sovereignty is the exercise of power by a state. De jure sovereignty refers to the legal right to do so; de facto sovereignty refers to the factual ability to doing so. This can become an issue of special concern upon the failure of the usual expectation that de jure and de facto sovereignty exist at the place and time of concern, and reside within the same organization.
John Kenneth Galbraith, also known as Ken Galbraith, was a Canadian-American economist, diplomat, public official and intellectual. A leading proponent of 20th-century American liberalism, his books on economic topics were bestsellers from the 1950s through the 2000s. As an economist, he leaned toward post-Keynesian economics from an institutionalist perspective.
In political science, a political system defines the process for making official government decisions. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems. However, this is a very simplified view of a much more complex system of categories involving the questions of who should have authority and what the government influence on its people and economy should be.
Popular sovereignty is the principle that the authority(polity)|state]] and its government are created and sustained by the consent of its people, through their elected representatives, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with social contract philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Popular sovereignty expresses a concept, and does not necessarily reflect or describe a political reality. Benjamin Franklin expressed the concept when he wrote, "In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns".
In political philosophy, limited government is the concept of a government limited in power. It is a key concept in the history of liberalism.
Mixed government is a form of government that combines elements of democracy, aristocracy and monarchy, ostensibly making impossible their respective degenerations which are conceived as anarchy, oligarchy and tyranny. The idea was popularized during classical antiquity in order to describe the stability, the innovation and the success of the republic as a form of government developed under the Roman constitution.
Rechtsstaat is a doctrine in continental European legal thinking, originating in German jurisprudence. It can be translated into English as "rule of law", alternatively "legal state", "state of law", "state of justice", or "state based on justice and integrity".
Westphalian sovereignty, or state sovereignty, is a principle in international law that each state has exclusive sovereignty over its territory. The principle underlies the modern international system of sovereign states and is enshrined in the United Nations Charter, which states that, “nothing [...] shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.” According to the idea, every state, no matter how large or small, has an equal right to sovereignty. Political scientists have traced the concept to the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which ended the Thirty Years' War. The principle of non-interference was further developed in the 18th century. The Westphalian system reached its peak in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it has faced recent challenges from advocates of humanitarian intervention.
Constitutional theory is an area of constitutional law that focuses on the underpinnings of constitutional government. It overlaps with legal theory, constitutionalism, philosophy of law and democratic theory. It is not limited by country or jurisdiction.
Fusion of powers is a feature of some parliamentary forms of government, where the executive and legislative branches of government are intermingled. It is contrasted with the European separation of powers found in presidential and semi-presidential forms of government where the legislative and executive powers are in origin separated by popular vote. Fusion of powers exists in many, if not a majority of, parliamentary democracies, and does so by design. However, in all modern democratic polities the judicial branch of government is independent of the legislative and executive branches.
Popular sovereignty is a doctrine rooted in the belief that each citizen has sovereignty over themselves. Citizens may unite and offer to delegate a portion of their sovereign powers and duties to those who wish to serve as officers of the state, contingent on the officers agreeing to serve according to the will of the people. In the United States, the term has been used to express this concept in constitutional law. It was also used during the 19th century in reference to a proposed solution to the debate over the expansion of slavery. The proposal would have given the power to determine the legality of slavery to the inhabitants of the territory seeking statehood, rather than to Congress.
The rule of law is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "[t]he authority and influence of law in society, especially when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behavior; (hence) the principle whereby all members of a society are considered equally subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes." The term rule of law is closely related to constitutionalism as well as Rechtsstaat and refers to a political situation, not to any specific legal rule.
The rule according to a higher law is a statement which expresses that no law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice. Thus, the rule according to a higher law may serve as a practical legal criterion to qualify the instances of political or economical decision-making, when a government, even though acting in conformity with clearly defined and properly enacted legal rules, still produces results which many observers find unfair or unjust.
Constitutionalism is "a compound of ideas, attitudes, and patterns of behavior elaborating the principle that the authority of government derives from and is limited by a body of fundamental law".
Parliamentary sovereignty is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. It holds that the legislative body has absolute sovereignty and is supreme over all other government institutions, including executive or judicial bodies. It also holds that the legislative body may change or repeal any previous legislation and so it is not bound by written law or by precedent.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to government:
New constitutionalism is derived from the classical neo-liberalism framework and represents a set of political policies that promote a new global order. The goal of new constitutionalism is to separate the democratic and economic practices by shifting economic aims from the regional and national level to the global level through constitutional framework. The purpose of this shift is to create global supremacy and promote a free capitalist system.
the Republic of Venice ... city-state constructed a political system based firmly on the principle of countervailance
The toleration of an aberrant religion means that its adherents are left free to preach, publish and organize. Where such freedoms exist for religious groups, the cannot be effectively denied to citizens who have other agendas. ... During the eighteenth century, the countervailance model of British government was embraced by all the major writers on the subject. It appears to have been generally accepted until Walter Bagehot and A.V. Dicey initiated in the nineteenth century a reinterpretation of the English constitution in terms of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty.