Essay: Suriname separation of powers

Suriname has faced periods of political, economic and social decline since it gained independence from the Netherlands in 1975. However, in the recent years, Suriname has experienced various political, social and economic developments (Bergen, 2007).

There are various theories developed on the subject of how the society’s freedom can be protected against the power of the State.

The main literature on this subject is Separation of power (Trias politicia) of C.Montesquieu.

In the book The l’esprit des lois (1748), C. Montesquieu explains that if the legislative and executive power are in the hands of one individual or a small group the result will be a threat to the freedom of the citizen.

In 2014, Suriname was ranked 53th of the 165 independent states on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index Democracy 2014 of Democracy and its discontents. The Democracy index rank is based on five categories. Suriname has been categorized as a flawed democracy.

Suriname has significant weaknesses in the aspects of governance, underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation. Despite these flaws, Suriname has free and fair elections. Another positive aspect is that the basic civil liberties will be respected even if there are problems such as infringements on media freedom.

Table 1 Democracy index 2014

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Separation of powers

The doctrine of separation of powers is one of democratic rules and law principles. The governance is tasked with the spreading of three components which are the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. Each component is limited to its sovereignty.

This is limitation is to prevent that one of the components have a monarchic rule of another. This relationship can be described as one of check and balances. Checks and balances will be described below.

Balances: Power is separated between the three components of Government, so checks can be performed. If one of the components is too powerful and the power is not balanced, checks on the components will be ineffective. Each component should only use their power according to the constitution.

Checks: Checks are mechanisms which allow each arm of Government to control or override the actions of the other two components. There are different checks on power within the government. The main goal of the checks is to ensure accountability, which means that legal decisions can be challenged and that all components of government perform according to the law. Checks are essential in maintaining the law.

The circle below indicates the separation of powers by separating the intuitions and their function that exercise the powers.

Figure 1:


The circle sums up theoretical separation of the branches of government and the theoretical separation of powers. In practice there might have to be some merging of functions and powers when administering and implementing policies.

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