The Separation of Powers. Prologue in the 18th Century: From Montesquieu to Madison

By Pasquale Pasquino

The article first indicates a need to distinguish the classification of the functions of the State from the posited polyarchical form of exercise of the supreme function of political authority, (traditionally) the legislative. The text then suggests locating the origins of the modern doctrine of the separation of powers in the concept, typical to Western political culture, of the mixed constitution, which is opposed to all forms of monocracy. Second, through an analysis of Montesquieu’s and Madison’s theories, it is sought to show how Madison’s views concerning the constitution strive to harmonize the doctrine of the Spirit of the Laws, which presupposes the existence of orders and parts of society characterized by a fundamental diversity of rights, with the vision of modern constitutionalism, which recognizes equal rights to all citizens.