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Chris Fox's Politics Section

The State

The State consists of those official institutions that organise the communal life of a country. It consists of three parts: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

The executive administers legislation and devises policies. It consists of two parts: the government, which consists of politicians; and the civil service, which consists of permanent officials. The government exercises political control over the affairs of a state, while the civil service advises the government and implements legislation and policies. In a parliamentary system, the government is drawn from the legislature, while in a presidential system the head of government takes office independently of the legislature.

In a presidential system, the head of government is also the head of state, while in a parliamentary system they are separate positions. The head of state performs such functions as receiving foreign ambassadors and presiding over official and ceremonial functions, as well as approving legislation and appointing the head of government. He may also be able to intervene in order to have an issue further examined, or to dismiss the government and dissolve the legislature.

The legislature devises and passes legislation and scrutinises the government, and may also be able to confirm governmental appointments. It may be unicameral, having one chamber, or bicameral, having two. The second chamber acts as a revising chamber, giving the first chamber an opportunity to reconsider a proposal. Its composition is normally different to that of the first chamber. One arrangement for the second chamber is to give equal representation to each geographical area.

The judiciary, which includes the police and the courts, is responsible for interpreting and enforcing legislation. The job of a court is to adjudicate a dispute between two parties. There are (at least) four types of court case. Under civil law, one party seeks redress from another. A criminal law case has wider implications and involves the State initiating a prosecution. Administrative law cases include the hearing of grievances against institutions of the State. Constitutional law is concerned with whether the actions of State institutions are permitted by the Constitution.

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