Power-sharing is defined as a political arrangement wherein powers are divided and shared among different organs of the government as well as among different levels of the government. Power-sharing is considered to be an important component of democracy. It ensures the democratic functioning of the government, makes decision-making more strengthened, and reduces the possibility of conflicts.
In modern democracies, power-sharing arrangements are of the following types:
- Among Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary
- Among different levels of the government
- Among different Linguistic And Religious Groups
- Among political parties, and Social Groups
Among Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary
The division of political power among different organs of the government is known as the horizontal division of power. In such an arrangement, different organs of the government which stand at the same level perform within their jurisdictions. The three organs among which power-sharing takes place are – legislative, executive, and judiciary. These three pillars are interdependent.
The legislature primarily is responsible for formulating laws. This power of lawmaking resides with the Parliament. The constitutional validity of the laws passed is ensured by the judiciary. The judiciary has the power to declare any law null and void that it considers to not be in compliance with constitutional provisions. This power of the judiciary to determine the validity of laws is commonly known as judicial review.
The executive branch of the government is held with the task of ensuring that the laws made in the country are effectively implemented and obeyed. In other words, it holds the responsibility for the governance of a state. It enforces the laws as written by the legislature and validated by the judiciary. Thus, the executive is answerable to both the legislature and the judiciary.
The judiciary enjoys an important feature commonly referred to as the independence of the judiciary. The main role of administering justice is to settle disputes and act as a watchdog of democracy. In India, the appointment of judges is governed by the President. Thus, the functioning of the judiciary depends on the executive. The power of impeachment of judges is held by the legislature.
The doctrine of separation of power came into force to avoid the concentration of power in one branch. The three organs of the government do not interfere in the jurisdiction of the other. However, each organ keeps a check on the other. This arrangement in which no organ can exercise unlimited powers is known as the system of checks and balances.
Among Different Levels Of The Government
This type of division of power is divided among different levels of the government. Unlike the horizontal division of power, the vertical division of power pertains to power division among different levels. The different tiers of the government are at the national, state, and regional levels. This vertical division of power is also known as federalism. The various federal units are given some autonomy over certain areas. In India, we have recognized a three-fold distribution of power.
The system of vertical division of power ensures that neither level of government has absolute power over the state. In the seventh schedule of the Indian constitution, the powers of the central and the state governments are elucidated. Those subjects mentioned in the state and union lists fall under the jurisdiction of the state and central government respectively. The concurrent list includes those subjects which are enjoyed by both levels of government. The Centre appoints the Governors of different states to govern administrative issues. This enables the Union government to have some influence on state administration.
It is important to note that the Indian federal system is tilted in favor of the center. For instance, the Union Government holds the authority to issue directions to state-level governments so that the latter works in line with the laws passed in Parliament. Financially, the central government is better equipped with resources. The Centre also has the authority to exercise control over state finances.
Among Linguistic And Religious Groups
Power is also shared among different social groups. These social groups may be different in terms of language, religion, ethnicity, and so on. This type of power-sharing ensures inclusion and adequate representation of each and every social group in the government. The diverse social groups are accommodated within the administration in order to uplift their societal status. This kind of arrangement prevents the feeling of alienation among linguistic and religious groups. This can provide opportunities for autonomy and recognition for cultural minorities as such a system may protect such regionally concentrated minorities and ensure equal protection of the law.
For instance, reservations are made for women in order to ensure their political participation. Similarly, reservations are made for weaker sections such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the bureaucracy and legislature. These constitutional and legal arrangements are made in order to give a fair share to minority communities.
Among Political Parties and Social Groups
Different political parties in a democracy associate themselves with different political ideologies. This form of power-sharing among different political parties takes place in the form of political competition among parties representing different ideologies. Voters cast their votes in order to choose their ruler. Thus, in a democracy, decision-making processes are at the disposal of citizens. Regular elections also ensure that power is not concentrated in one hand and shifts in accordance with the people’s choices.
Power-sharing among political parties may be direct or indirect. It is direct when two or more political parties form an alliance to contest elections. Apart from political parties, various social groups and movements are active in a democracy due to social mobilization. These groups and movements also shape politics by influencing decision-making processes and creating political pressures on the ruling party.
The notion of power-sharing emerged against the apprehension of a concentration of power in one or few hands. In a democracy, everyone has a voice that can shape or influence political power. In order to ensure that no identity is compromised, power-sharing arrangements are being made. The primary aim of the division of power is to ensure that the divided political power is distributed across the nation to all citizens.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q 1. What is a power-sharing system in India?
Power-sharing system refers to the process involving distribution of power of a country or a region amongst the different organs of the government like judiciary, executive and legislature.
Q 2. Does India have a horizontal or vertical distribution of power?
At both national and state levels, India has a more horizontal distribution of power among the three parts of government, which includes legislative, executive and judiciary.
Q 3. What is power-sharing?
Power-sharing refers to the rule of democracy involving sharing power with those affected by its exercise.