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Thursday, July 14, 2011

One-legged chick in Thua Thien - Hue - Gà một chân ở Thừa thiên - Huế

Nguyễn Hùng, the owner, lives at Phú Cường village, Lộc Thủy commune, Phú Lộc district, South of Hue City

Vietnamese wife depenised her husband - Vợ Việt cắt chim chồng Mỹ

BY Nancy Dillon
Wednesday, July 13th 2011, 4:17 PM

Catherine Becker, 48, is accused of brutally cutting off her husband's penis and putting into a running garbage disposal, police say.
Garden Grove Police Dept.
Catherine Becker, 48, is accused of brutally cutting off her husband's penis and putting into a running garbage disposal, police say.

LOS ANGELES - The California woman accused of severing her husband's penis and mutilating it in a garbage disposal was upset about "friends staying at the residence," prosecutors said Wednesday.

Indeed, authorities believe Catherine Kieu was consumed by jealous rage related to one or more females when she allegedly committed the heinous crime, a law enforcement source told the Daily News.

Kieu, a 48-year-old real estate broker, appeared in court Wednesday on charges of felony torture and aggravated mayhem. She faces a maximum of life in prison with the possibility of parole if convicted.

The 60-year-old victim earlier told police his wife was angry about their pending divorce.

He denied the existence of a love triangle.

"He's saying there isn't (another woman)," Lt. Jeff Nightengale of the Garden Grove Police Department told the News.

The man, a textiles business owner whose name is being withheld, was in "surprisingly good spirits" following emergency surgery and was listed in "good" condition at UC Irvine Medical Center late Tuesday, Nightengale said.

"Two veteran detectives interviewed him Tuesday and were surprised at his demeanor. They said he was able to answer questions and was in surprisingly good spirits considering everything he's gone through," he said.

Authorities say Kieu drugged her estranged husband's food Monday night to make him sleepy, tied him to the four corners of a bed with nylon ropes, cut off his penis with a 10-inch knife and ran the penis through the kitchen garbage disposal before calling 911.

"The garbage disposal element is going a whole step beyond. That's why we're going with aggravated mayhem instead of just mayhem. The garbage disposal took it to a whole other level," Nightengale said.

Pieces of the penis were recovered and transported to the hospital, but Nightengale said he couldn't comment on whether or not doctors successfully reattached anything.

He said Kieu "spontaneously" said her husband "deserved it" when she met police at the door of the apartment.

The couple married in December 2009 but separated in April and filed for divorce in May. The victim told cops he allowed Kieu to continue living in his apartment because she had nowhere else to go, Nightengale said.

The suspect, who's of Vietnamese descent, is being held without bail. She's scheduled to return to court July 22 for a bail hearing.

The food has been sent to a county testing facility.

A wife is accused of cutting off the penis of her estranged husband. She was arrested late last night after investigators responded to a 911 call and is now in custody at the Orange County Jail.

Catherine Kieu Becker of Garden Grove reportedly prepared dinner for her husband and put a poisonous substance or drug in his food to make him drowsy, reports KTLA. While the man was sleeping, Becker allegedly tied him to the bed. When he awakened, Becker cut his penis off with a knife and threw it into the garbage disposal, turning it on as she did so.

Lt. Jeff. Nightengale told NBC LA that Becker called 911 at around 10 p.m. requesting emergency assistance. Nightengale said that Becker "told responding officers that he 'deserved it.'" Nightengale also revealed that the married couple was going through a divorce.

Nightengale spoke with the HuffPost and confirms that the victim has been upgraded to stable or good condition and is being treated at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange. Nightengale also says that pieces of the severed member were recovered from the crime scene and transported to the hospital with the victim last night, but he has no details on how the surgery went. Police hope to interview the victim either today or tomorrow.

Becker has been charged with "aggravated mayhem, false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon, administering a drug with intent to commit a felony, poisoning and spousal abuse," according to the Associated Press. The most serious of these charges is "aggravated mayhem," which carries a life sentence with possibility of parole (as opposed to just "mayhem," which has a sentence of 3-5 years).

Of the aggravated mayhem charge, Nightengale says, "It's so heinous -- we're looking at this as premeditated. Her intention was to permanently deprive him of a piece of his body and do it in such a way to inflict a great amount of pain and psychological damage." He also adds, "I've been doing this for 22 years and the only other time I remember this happening was when Lorena Bobbitt did it, and that didn't even happen here. This isn't a typical domestic violence case -- it was way over the top."

The politics – citizen relationship - Quan hệ giữa Chính trị và công dân

The politics – citizen relationship - Quan hệ giữa Chính trị và công dân

How politics affect the everyday life of citizens
The Greek terms for “politics” and “citizens” are derived from the word “polis” that constituted the form of state structure in Greek antiquity. “Politics” implies that it concerns the “management of public issues” (Aristotle) within the frame of a state organized social structure, while citizens are all members of this organized social structure.
It is therefore clear that the citizens and politics are intertwined and their interaction is necessary.
Politics is often confused with power. This belief is misguided. In a democracy, the citizens administer power through their vote to other citizens (the politicians) in order to exercise it for the benefit of the whole (state). Such a policy is applied through the state, which essentially is an organized system for practicing politics.
Justice, for example, is one of needs of a state. Citizens choose the politicians and the Premier, who appoints a minister of justice who in turn supervises the normal function of a justice system (courts, judges, defense) so that when a citizen who is wronged seeks justice it can be distributed. That also means, of course, that if a citizen acts in an unlawful way then the same system he supports will condemn him in order to secure the proper function of society.
This is a simple example of a citizen- politics relationship. There are actually many domains where the citizen is influenced, directly or indirectly, by politics and where a bad policy can have a negative effect on the citizens while a good policy can have a positive effect.
Foreign Relations and Defense
Defense has always been one of the most important reasons of organizing a state. An organized society can support a regular army to ward off offensive actions. Maintaining the peace, however, entails the personal participation of the citizen in the defense mechanism (military service) and his economic contribution through taxation in order to acquire weapons.
Maintaining the peace today lies heavily on foreign policy; alliances, diplomatic relations and even the diplomatic resolution of crises. An incorrect foreign policy, as during the Asia Minor Catastrophe, can lead to disastrous consequences.
Economy- Development
Another important sector of direct influence of politics on the citizen is the economy. Considering that society functions as a system, then if that system has economic shortcomings or external debts, those debts are automatically conveyed to the citizen in the form of income reduction or purchasing power reduction. To the contrary, if the economic policy produces economic growth then the citizen benefits indirectly by receiving better payment for his work. Furthermore, a correct economic policy can ensure the successful confrontation of sudden international economic crises. The economic policy influences other aspects of the citizen's life as well, like:
  • Equal distribution of wealth. Through taxation politics can influence (and even eliminate) social injustice, by taxing higher incomes and large properties and remitting taxation or even financially supporting the economically weaker groups.
  • Financial protection. In the economically liberal capitalistic system, if a specific protection policy is not established, then the capital can easily deceive the citizen by taking advantage of his needs, for example by lending him money with very high interest. The role of politics is to control lending institutions and establish a balance between profit and debt.
Education and culture
Education and culture offer a good life quality to the citizen, one of the main goals of forming societies. A system that practices an inadequate policy in education can produce citizens with limited culture, occupational and decision making skills, as well as limited ability of spiritual enjoyment, resulting essentially to citizens who are prey to a consumer-driven culture.
Social security- Civil protection
An important role of the state is to protect the citizen against unpredicted situations (diseases, natural disasters, etc.) or to provide for him when he is unable to work. An inadequate policy on social security can lead society to a dead end contrary to a policy that prepares for unforeseen circumstances and creates reserve funds to insure the security needed by citizens.
Public Works and Transportation
Public works and transportation are fields with great impact on the citizen's lives. A correct policy will allow citizens to be able to move from one place to another safely, with ease and speed, securing him greater development and free time, as well as a better living environment.
Energy- Environment
Modern society is dependent on energy for its development, as well as every day life. A correct energy policy can provide the sufficient amount of energy needed at a relatively low cost. The environment on the other side, although it may not directly affect the citizen's life, it has long term consequences that are very hard to be reversed. Politics, through environmental protection, affects greatly not only the citizen but future generations as well.
Public Safety
In a faceless society it is necessary for the state to protect the people and their property from criminal acts or natural disasters.
Modern societies can't ensure employment for all on their own. Various economical and political changes (e.g. reduction of industries due to low demand, inflow of immigrants) can result to the loss of employment for large social groups. A correct policy can and should take care of the unemployed but moreover to provide employment for them.
Commerce- Production
The state can protect its citizens from profiteers by controlling the acceptable amount of profit on basic commodities, preventing the formation of cartels (A combination of independent business organizations formed to regulate production, pricing, and marketing of goods by the members) and promoting healthy antagonism. It can also help producers and merchants by providing subsidies, promoting their products and exportations by signing bilateral agreements with other states.
Research- Development- Technology
Development, as a mean of economic robustness, is also an objective of society. Development can be served in many ways through politics: through research (e.g. for new or improved production methods), through technology and through the financial support of independent initiatives by the citizens.
All of the sectors mentioned above, as well as several more, point out the fact that politics has a great influence on the citizens' every day life. Therefore, a policy that supports the capital is bound to work against the citizens' every day life to the benefit of the profiteers. On the other hand, a policy based on excessive social security benefits is likely to lead the economy to decay.
Contemporary political risks
Modern day politics is threatened by three main factors:
  1. the scientific and technological revolution (cloning, genetically engineered food, new medicine, nanotechnology, information systems on confidential informations and privacy). The source of uncertainty and risk is our ignorance on what will be the “Next Big Thing”, the next wave of technological innovation and its consequences on productivity and contemporary production methods and services. However, the same technology that produces this risk also provides us with the means to control it.
  2. the globalization, the expansion and completion of markets which produces greater opportunity but is accompanied by new risks and causes new dilemmas. In developed countries there is immense skepticism concerning the consequences of competitiveness in the chain of commerce, taking into account the expansion of outsourcing, the low specialization routine labor in the fields of research, innovation and new products and services. Modern politics must deal with a great variety of matters, from the uncertainty of the price of oil and the fluctuation of the dollar exchange rate to the dangers emanating from the 9/11 facts in the United States. The greater amount of uncertainty comes from the fundamental imbalance of world economy as the U.S.A. and China are racing, Russia rises again, and Europe and Japan seem to be stuck. To reduce the potential risk Europe must make fundamental changes, the U.S.A. must built up stocks, China must increase consumption, reduce its dependency on exports and to limit its monetary and commercial aggression. Resorting to protective measures would be a very bad strategy against uncertainty.
  3. the personalization processes in modern societies that force people to be responsible for their own actions, to experience new opportunities and risks more directly, to plan early on his own risk assessment concerning his studies, lifelong education, mobility in his line of business, the inevitable career changes, the variable forms of insurance and investment. All f the above signify risk over and over again.
Politics cannot simply observe the increase of risks in modern society. It must become an active factor of creative expansion of risk extension. Politics must arouse competition, extend the markets and the financial sphere, use financial tools in exercising government policy to a greater extend, import risk management to new areas of the economic and social life, new areas of public and social responsibility.
Politics and especially independent regulatory mechanisms must look closely beyond the traditional institutions of risk management, like banks and stock markets, towards the new financial products for risk compensation by commercial, transactional, banking and other activities, the widely known derivatives. The goal of a flexible regulation in this sector is to provide more and safer choices to investors and not to asphyxiate them due to bureaucratic control or a risk management plan that essentially multiplies the risk and can turn it into a weapon of “mass destruction”. A combination of financial products must be developed and promoted to insurance organizations, ordinary people, and stockers-investors. Of course, certain pension funds like Nestlé’s and several others have increased their investment percentage to hedge funds with good returns so far. Actually, the risk in the financial world (banks, insurance companies, trust funds, hedge funds, etc.) is transmitted here by sectors, like banks, characterized by high control levels and large costs but better knowledge of risks, to sectors with less control and knowledge and less costs, like hedge funds.
Politics must encourage innovation and experimentation so that a new generation of mixed financial- insurance products can enter the market and not only will they counterbalance the risks from sudden increases in the price of oil or rate of interests or the fluctuation of exchange rates but cover a number of social issues as well, such as the loss of employment by a technological innovation or the relocation of a company abroad or by the reduction of real estate values in a certain area or the unfortunate outcome of a business plan in high risk areas. What is really needed is a radical transformation and a unprecedented expansion of the insurance sphere with new financial tools and a democratization of financing so that it does not only concern an elite of international investors but ensures easier and safer access even to middle class investors and insurance funds.
Politics will expand the risk management realm, not only to the extend it liberates the services market (energy, communications, loans) but mainly if it promotes a new generation of reforms in sections of state authority, like higher education and the health care system, which will introduce market like procedures, the “internal public market”, lever competition between the now financially independent institutions, safeguard the users’ right to choose services, increase the access opportunity of the financially weaker, while the state will maintain its regulatory-funding role and secure quality standards. Every reform leads to a new risk distribution. In universities today, the students risk spending time and money often for low quality studies with no business prospective while the risk on the professors’ and institutions’ side is non existent in the existent circumstances of extreme officialdom and equation. A serious reform would enable the University and its professors to expect higher or lesser funding from the state and private contributors according to the quality of their educational and research work; that is they will collectively and personally receive part of the risk involved.
The state can generally buy services for its citizens or the financially weak in the free market under competitive circumstances or in sui generis “internal public markets” or even non governmental, non profit institutions and volunteer’s organizations. It is a passage from a squandering, bureaucratic structure of production and distribution of services to an age of state contracts with independent companies, both public and private. The attempted cooperation between state and private organizations will only be successful if the proper distribution of risk is applied. An existing international risk management model is the establishment of the emission credits purchase system, which rewards ecologically innovative companies who invest on “clean” technologies and fines polluting companies in order to keep CO2 emissions within the borderline limit of 550 ppm (parts per million) until the end of the century. When we move to reform we must also include in our proposals the analysis and management of the relative risk in advance.
A major issue for public risk management in the next two decades will be the answer to the demographic anomaly and the new form of insurance problems, brought forth by the mass retirement of the so called “baby boom” generation. This is the most easily predictable economic and social crisis in human history that can result to a new social storm, a new crisis and conflict between generations.
Politics are expected to plan the future based on the unpleasant assumption that the youth population will decrease and therefore, to increase social wealth in order to be adequate for all, workers and retired, it must lever the productivity of human labor. Europe needs an average productivity increase of 3% for a time period of 20 years. This stake must first be won in education, research, innovation and enterprise. Therefore, the key-factor for a new contract between generations is elevated productivity but it is self-evident that whether Europe can achieve such a large increase for two decades is highly uncertain and consequently complementary “security measures” should be sought in order to insure pensions. The working population must increase, the total volume of work during a persons life must increase as it has in northern Scandinavia, the cannibalistic phenomena of mass retirements must be repressed and motives must be given in order to promote new voluntary forms of flexible pensions and part-time employment. The EU must also combine the dominant redistribution system and the capital stock system of social insurance in a clever way so that the burdens and potentials are fairly distributed among generations, between the person and society. The creation of a supplementary personal insurance book on a capital stock system can also be useful. Greek citizens would be greatly interested in insurance savings-investments only if it is for their own benefit alone, only if it can be inherited by their children and with no additional –so called social- taxes. This is why the Greeks come first in privately owned houses percentages worldwide.
Otherwise, if all the required political decisions are left to be taken later on, politics will be forced to act under crisis conditions and threatened by the collapse of the insurance system it will fatefully resolve to minimum state pensions derived from taxation and from that point on only those who can afford private insurance, have some savings, investments in bonds and real estate or even children with high incomes and a strong sense of responsibility towards their parents will be able to stay afloat. Besides, family has been the primary organ of risk management throughout the history of mankind with both good and bad results.
How citizens can influence politics
Politics is a very serious business to be left to politicians”
Georges Clemenceau, French politician
Contemporary parliamentary representative democracy is defined as the expression of public rule. However, the citizen’s rule in this system is primarily confined to the governor’s (prime minister) election and representatives (members of parliament) to whom he assigns the country’s administration for four years and has no real control and access to power.
So, although we define the existing political system a democracy, that democracy is far from the political system that generated the term “Athenian Democracy” where citizens participated actively in the control and practice of power. And even though the direct democracy in ancient Athens may seem utopian today, there are certainly more capabilities for citizen participation in politics and control than the ones existing today.
What capabilities do contemporary citizens have to influence politics?
Participation in syndicates, trade unions or professional chambers.
These professional unions have elected representatives. Through them, the citizen can promote:
  • Better working conditions
  • Financial issues
  • Better offered services
  • Recognition of a profession as hard and unsanitary
  • Other labor rights
Professional unions can use certain means to apply pressure or influence politics, like:
  • Declare their demands to the public (e.g. a press conference, the Press, mass media)
  • Promote demands or proposals to the relevant authority
  • Informing political parties and members of parliament and promoting their demands in parliament
  • Participating in the social dialogue with the political leadership
  • Organizing meetings and protest marches
  • Abstaining from work- Strike
  • Sit-ins at the place of work
Participation in political parties
Citizens can choose the political party that expresses them and participate in its political groups either as a simple member or as a member of special committees. Thus citizens can indirectly affect politics.
Promoting requests directly to an elected member of parliament
The members of Parliament have offices open to the public. Citizens can submit their requests and politicians, according to their judgment, can promote them or convey them to parliament.
Expression and publication of personal opinion
Contemporary democracy defends the free expression of opinion. Citizens can publicly express their opinion in several ways:
  • Letters or articles to the press
  • Post opinions and views on the internet
  • through the mass media (radio, television), participating in panels or making complaints
Protection of citizens through independent authorities
Independent authorities are institutions established by instruction of the EU. Most independent authorities are provided by the constitution and are not directly state institutions but independent services funded by the state. Their members are chosen by common consent of the political parties and their role is to protect citizens from arbitrary actions or injustice on behalf of the state, the system or other citizens. Through the independent authorities, citizens can influence and even revoke incorrect political decisions.
The ASEP is an Independent Authority, is not subject to governmental or other control and it is provided by the Constitution. It was established by law (N. 2190/1994) and it is meant to ensure the independent and unbiased selection of personnel for public services, as well as to investigate on relevant infringements. Therefore, through the ASEP the unbiased selection of staff in public services is ensured and the citizen is given the opportunity to protest against irregularities.
The Hellenic Data Protection Authority is constitutionally established. It was created under the 2472/1997 law. Its purpose is to protect citizens from illegal use of their personal data and to assist them in cases where their rights are violated for commercial purposes (financial, health, insurance, education, public administration, transportation, mass media, etc.).
The EETT is an Independent Authority established in 1992 by the 2075 law and constitutes the National Regulator which controls, regulates and supervises: a) the electronics telecommunications market, which includes phone companies, mobile services companies, wireless communications and internet providers and b) the postal market, which includes postal services companies and courier services. Moreover, the EETT acts in place of the Competition Committee in these markets. If a citizen is wronged by a certain communications company he can file a complaint at the EETT and seek justice.
The NCRTV, one of the first Independent Authorities established in Greece, was founded under 1866/1989 law and it is constitutionally vested. The NCRTV is meant to ensure the lawful operation of radio and television stations, the observance of the constitutional rules of polyphony, quality and youth and child protection against inappropriate content, and the transparency of economic transactions of companies involved in mass media. Citizens can submit protests or complaints if they consider that illegal actions take place.
The HCC was established by the 2996/95 law and represents the institution responsible for the smooth functioning of the market, guaranteeing the application of competition laws. Its main goals include the preservation or restoration of the market's normal competition structure, the protection of consumer interests and economic development. Both citizens and professionals can object to the HCC in cases where healthy competition is abused.
The RAE was established by law 2773/22-12-99 (link in Greek). Its goal is to facilitate free and healthy competition in the energy market in order to achieve better and more economical services for consumers (both citizens and companies) and to allow small and middle businesses, which offer employment and development, to survive by supplying new opportunities for them. The RAE looks after the citizens' interests but citizens can only turn to the RAE on matters of competition abuse in the energy market or if he is interested to invest in energy production.
The Greek Ombudsman is constitutionally vended and was established by law 2477/97. This authority investigates individual administrative actions, omissions or actions by public services' bodies which violate or abuse the legal interests of natural or legal entities. It also investigates on actions or omissions of the public administration or individuals that violate the rights of children.
Anyone who believes he is victimized by public administration organizatiuns can address the Greek Ombudsman. His case will be investigated and made sure that it is settled. Within the Greek Ombudsman are counselors for special cases
(Link in Greek)
The Consumer's Ombudsman was established by the 3297/2004 law. It functions as an institution of resolving consumer's disputes without going to trial, as well as providing counsel for issues in its jurisdiction. The Friendly Settlement Commissions that exist in different Municipalities fall under its supervision. Citizens can address the Consumer's Ombudsman in cases of consumer fraud.
Acute expression of protest by citizens
If a citizen believes he has been wronged by the state or the system, he has several means to defend himself or to express himself in public:
  • Address an Independent Authority (mentioned above)
  • Address administrative courts
Administrative courts comprise the judiciary branch concerned with the control of actions and omissions of the administration. They are distinguished in:
  • Regular administrative courts, concerned with administrative differences (e.g. taxation) and
  • The Council of State, concerned with abrogative differences. The Council of State is the Highest Court on the legality of administrative actions and has become a mighty defender of citizens, public authorities and the environment.
The disadvantage of administrative courts is that they work though a time-consuming process. A case could be tried after 2 or even 4 years time.
  • Make their issue public through mass media
    It is an informal form of protest often more effective than others due to their high ratings
  • Sit-ins and hunger strikes
    They are an extreme informal mean of protest and very effective if combined with projection by the mass media.
Participation and action in Non-Government Organizations
Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) are legal entities (associations, unions, companies, institutions) of non profitable, humanitarian, social and social benefit character. They are formed by groups of citizens to intervene in sectors where they believe the state is not effective, as it should.
NGOs are mainly involved in the areas of social solidarity, the environment, culture and education. There is s misguided belief that NGOs are the large humanitarian organizations (“Doctors without frontiers”, Greenpeace, etc.). That is not correct. NGOs are all citizen organizations-initiatives interested in social issues that are not state institutions. In that sense, even renovation societies can be considered as NGOs. NGOs are funded by members' donations and government funding (if the necessity of their function is accepted by the state), national, European or international programs and at times through the sale of items or services.
NGOs have been around for a long time but at recent years their function as supplementary instruments of state functions and citizens mobilization has gained great recognition. NGOs are more flexible than state mechanisms and their proper function can ensure effective, low cost services. However, due to the fact that there are no control mechanisms for NGOs, they are often accuse of fraud and embezzlement.
A referendum is a constitutionally established mean of direct democracy. Citizens are called to vote for important national issues. In some countries the referendum is often used by proposal of a sufficient number of members of parliament. In Greece, it is avoided in the pretext of high cost and possible manipulation of the citizens opinion that would lead to uncontrollable results. Therefore, the last referendum ever to be held in Greece was in 1974 on the determination of the system of government.

European Union - Liên Minh Châu Âu

European Union - Liên Minh Châu Âu

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic community of twenty-seven member states, located primarily in Europe. It was established in 1993 by the Maastricht Treaty, adding new areas of policy to the existing European Community. With almost 500 million citizens, the EU combined generates an estimated 30% share of the world's nominal gross domestic product (US$16.6 trillion) in 2007.[2]
The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws which apply in all member states, guaranteeing the freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital.[3] It maintains a common trade policy, agricultural and fisheries policies, and a regional development policy.[4] Fifteen member states have adopted a common currency, the euro. It has developed a role in foreign policy, representing its members in the World Trade Organization, at G8 summits and at the United Nations. Twenty-one EU countries are members of NATO. It has developed a role in justice and home affairs, including the abolition of passport control between many member states under the Schengen Agreement.[5]
EU operation is a hybrid of intergovernmentalism and supranationalism. In certain areas it depends upon agreement between the member states. However, it also has supranational bodies, able to make decisions without the agreement of members. Important institutions and bodies of the EU include the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the European Court of Justice and the European Central Bank. EU citizens elect the Parliament every five years.
The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community formed among six countries in 1951 and the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Since then the EU has grown in size through the accession of new member states and has increased its powers by the addition of new policy areas to its remit. The Treaty of Lisbon signed in December 2007 is intended to amend the existing treaties to update the political and legal structure of the union, if ratification is completed in 2008.
The history of the European Union
After the end of the Second World War the political climate favoured the unification of Europe. It was seen by many as an escape from the extreme forms of nationalism which had devastated the continent. One such attempt to unite Europeans was the European Coal and Steel Community which while having the modest aim of centralised control of the previously national coal and steel industries of the its member states was declared to be "a first step in the federation of Europe". The founding members of the Community were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and West Germany.
Robert Schuman proposing the Coal and Steel Community in  1950
Robert Schuman proposing the Coal and Steel Community in 1950
Two additional communities were created in 1957: the European Economic Community (EEC) establishing a customs union and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for cooperation in developing nuclear energy. In 1967 the Merger Treaty created a single set of institutions for the three communities, which were collectively referred to as the European Communities, although more commonly just as the European Community (EC).
The 1957 Rome Treaty created the European Economic Community.
The 1957 Rome Treaty created the European Economic Community.
In 1973 the Communities enlarged to include Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Norway had negotiated to join at the same time but a referendum rejected membership and so it remained outside. In 1979 the first direct, democratic elections to the European Parliament were held.
Greece, Spain and Portugal joined in the 1980s. In 1985 the Schengen Agreement created largely open borders without passport controls between most member states. In 1986 the European flag began to be used by the EC and leaders signed the Single European Act.
The Iron Curtain's fall enabled eastward enlargement. (Berlin Wall)
The Iron Curtain's fall enabled eastward enlargement. (Berlin Wall)
In 1990, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the former East Germany became part of the Community as part of a newly united Germany. With enlargement toward eastern Europe on the agenda, the Copenhagen criteria for candidate members to join the European Union were agreed.
The European Union was formally established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force on 1 November 1993 and in 1995 Austria, Sweden and Finland joined the newly established EU. In 2002 euro notes and coins replaced national currencies in 12 of the member states. Since then, the Eurozone has increased to encompassing fifteen countries. In 2004, the EU saw its biggest enlargement to date when ten new countries, most of which former parts of the Eastern Bloc, joined the Union.
Διεύρυνση από το 1957 έως το 2007██ Ευρωπαϊκή Κοινότητα██ Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση
The growing of EU from 1957 to 2007
On 1 January 2007, Romania and Bulgaria became the EU's newest members and Slovenia adopted the euro.[16] In December of that year European leaders signed the Lisbon Treaty which is was hoped would replace the earlier, failed European Constitution, which never came into force after being rejected by French and Dutch voters. However uncertainty now clouds the prospects of the latter Treaty comming into force as result of its rejection by Irish voters in June 2008.

Administration of the European Union

The EU is often described as being divided into three areas of responsibility, called 'pillars'. The original European Community policies form the first pillar, while the second consists of Common Foreign and Security Policy. The third pillar originally consisted of Justice and Home Affairs, however owing to changes introduced by the Amsterdam and Nice treaties, it currently only consists of Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters. Broadly speaking, the second and third pillars can be described as the intergovernmental pillars because the supranational institutions of the Commission, Parliament and the Court of Justice play less of a role or none at all, while the lead is taken by the intergovernmental Council of Ministers and the European Council. Most activities of the EU come under the first, Community pillar. This is mostly economically oriented and the supranational institutions have more influence.[32]
The EU is regulated by a number of institutions, primarily the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, and European Parliament.


The European Commission acts as the EU's executive arm and is responsible for initiating legislation and the day-to-day running of the EU. It is intended to act solely in the interest of the EU as a whole, as opposed to the Council which consists of leaders of member states who reflect national interests. The commission is also seen as the motor of European integration. It is currently composed of 27 commissioners for different areas of policy, one from each member state.
The President of the Commission and all the other commissioners are nominated by the Council. Appointment of the Commission President, and also the Commission in its entirety, have to be confirmed by Parliament.[33]


Main article: European Parliament
The hemicycle of the Parliament's Louise Weiss building in Strasbourg

The hemicycle of the Parliament's Louise Weiss building in Strasbourg
The European Parliament forms one half of the EU's legislature. The 785 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by EU citizens every five years. Although MEPs are elected on a national basis, they sit according to political groups rather than their nationality. Each country has a set number of seats. The Parliament and the Council form and pass legislation jointly, using co-decision, in certain areas of policy. This procedure will extend to many new areas under the proposed Treaty of Lisbon, and hence increase the power and relevance of the Parliament. The Parliament also has the power to reject or censure the Commission and the EU budget. The President of the European Parliament carries out the role of speaker in parliament and represents it externally. The president and vice presidents are elected by MEPs every two and a half years.[34]

Council of the European Union

The Council of the European Union forms the other half of the EU's legislature. It is an organised platform where national ministers responsible for the area of policy being addressed, meet. Although the Council meets in different compositions, it is considered to be one single body.[35] In addition to its legislative functions, the Council also exercises executive functions in relations to the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The rotating Presidency of the EU Council is taken by each member state in turn for a period of six months, during which the relevant member chairs most meetings of the Council.[35] The member state holding the presidency typically uses it to drive and focus on a limited number of policy areas; such as various types of reform, enlargement or external relations with a specific part of the world.
(The texts above stem from the EU site and the Wikipedia)
The European Union and future challenges for European citizens
Europe for peace
The European fulfilment constituted a clear answer to the erupting conflicts of 19-20 th century Europe. It signified the end of conflict and territorial disute for the countries who entered the coalition and led them to peaceful cooperaton. Helmut Kohl used to say: “My mother's brother was called Walter and he died at the river Rhine during World War I. My brother, Walter, died during World War II. My son, Walter, crosses the boarders without a passport”. This is Europe! All have changed during a single generation.
Europe in the world
Contrary to the last decades during which Europe was formed mainly due to internal reasons- the creation of an area of security in Europe and a common market- today the need to reinforce Europe is mainly driven by the great external challenges, the international challenges. Either there will be a Europe existing within a specific political reality or our continent with have no role, hold no power over these great challenges. Within the next 30 or 40 years, none of the EU state-members will be able to participate in the G7 or G8 (the group of the richest countries in the world) under its national name because national economies, as we know them today, will no longer exist. The economical and political Europe prepares to become one of the main international players. European nationalism that flourished in 19th-20th century is at an end but Europeans are not yet ready to acknowledge that fact. It is a simple choice: either Europe will learn to function as a political entity or it will be led to internal dispute and decadence. It is therefore necessary to arouse European public opinion.
If China's development and its elevation to a significant world power leads to a new bipolarity, if Putin's Russia overcomes its economical problems, then Europe that has the means to become a world power must also want to be one! Values like liberty and democracy, developed in Greece and Europe, are today ecumenical. If Europe holds some significance in the world, those values will also hold some significance. Europe is in need of a common foreign and defence policy. Therefore, it is made clear thet before we continue to enlarge Europe we must address the issue of a common Treaty.
Europe and the U.S.A
Our country
had and probably continues to have problems with certain political decisions made by U.S. governments. Several other European countries have also on occassion shown their disaproval of U.S. policy. Even inside the U.S., a great portion of the public shares the same opinion as some critical views that have been expressed concerning these matters, as opinion polls show. The EU, as a political entity, was not in a position to make a clear decision and left the matter to be handled by individual states as they saw fit. The western world is penetrated by an acute, hard dialogue that presents many diverse ideas on how the great challenges of our time should be dealt with. The opposing sides are not Europe and the U.S. but different views of the world.
Europe and globalization
The remarkable mind of Antonio Gramsci, the intelligence of Nicolo Machiavelli and Norberto Bobbio's perception of democracy are intellectual and ideological points of reference for a serious analysis of the contemporary European circumstances in the era of globalization. Jürgen Habermas' ideas on the globalization of rights are astounding. Globalization cannot be applied by force. However, it can be expanded and led through global rights. This will be the crowning contribution of Europe in the international course. The European principles of humanitarianism and democracy combined with economic power can and must form a globalization that won't fall prey to the capital but a globalization of justice, peace, development and prosperity for all the nations in the planet.
The experiences and role of Greece and its citizens in the unified Europe
In spite of the many contradictory opinions on Greece entering the EU (EEC at the time), with the leftist parties of the '70s being against such a union, today the vast majority of citizens accept the fact that entering the EU was the only choice and that it has benefited the country.
Europe and the recent enlargement
As Greek and as European citizens we definitely need the rest of Europe. The signs of fatigue that are evident lately in the European area and the related concerns are the results of the long course of Europe and the progress it has accomplished. The European Union represents an exceptionally important reality. Its expansion has been a major political success that symbolizes the end of the Cold War era and the reunification of the continent. However, this does not mean that expansion is easy for the institutions and economy of the EU. All these matters have aggravated the psychological condition of European citizens. We stand, therefore, on a very delicate and crucial point following the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome and while the special European council has begun deliberations on the determination of the Constitutional Treaty's future.
Economy and politics
After the last enlargement, Europe looks more like a economic giant and political midget. In any case, a situation like this cannot be allowed to continue. A common currency cannot continue to exist unless the different economic and development policies are coordinated. Europe cannot continue being an economic giant without politics. The lack of a strong political position endangers our competitiveness in the economical level.
Institutions and citizens
Above all, it is necessary for the enlarged Europe to establish effective institutions. In the relevant European dialogue some are inclined to say: “let's not occupy ourselves with legal matters and institutional rules that are abstract notions and do not interest the public. Let's better deal with specific events that people are interested in”. This is political demagogy! In reality, we all know that the quality of institutions and of acceptable decisions are closely connected. If Europeans want security, if they want an internationally more powerful Europe, then institutions must be established that will help Europe make the necessary decisions. If Europe is paralyzed by vetoes, then there won't be any “specific events” to deal with. There is no point in saying “Let's discuss on security and not on the Constitution”. Greece and its citizens must be willing to talk about the rules and institutions that can lead to events, to a Europe more capable of dealing with great international challenges like peace, security, the struggle against terrorism, as well as the important environmental challenge, which is becoming more and more threatening for the future of mankind.
Continuing enlargement
The Balkans are the scenery of the last act of war in Europe. Gradually, all countries in the Western Balkans must join the EU. This open wound right in SE Europe cannot remain open. The Balkans are of great importance to Greece. Immigrants, refugees, crime, but also investments and commerce have placed a historical mark in the country's relationship with its neighbors in the Balkans who are still in danger of conflict erupting on national-religious identity. The danger of the Balkans driving to political seclusion is still real. Greece must work against this prospect and promote the European prospect to the new Balkan states. a Strange though it may seem, the Balkans through fragmentation, will be able to find their way towards Europe and especially if Serbia, key-state in the area, brakes free from its nationalistic heritage and assumes the important role it can play in this direction.
Turkey's incorporation process will be a long and complicated procedure. However, negotiations must be promoted. Turkey's incorporation into the EU holds great political significance in a time when the danger of conflict between the cultures of the West and Islam is evident. The entry of a large Islamic country in the EU- under the condition that it recognizes the rules and values of the EU- would sent a very strong message.
Ukraine, another large state, also considers unification with the EU. Russia maintains its independence for the time being, having a special connection with the EU. According to some analysts, the time when Russia will feel the need to join the EU is not far away.
Can anyone picture what the EU of that size will be like? The EU must certainly reach a higher level of maturity before it can manage these sizes.
More boldness
There is no question that Europe has many serious problems waiting ahead. However, it lacks the necessary boldness to take the actions required to make Europe stronger and more reliable. Although we share a common currency, we don't have a common economic policy which is obviously necessary. If Europe can't produce economic development, people wonder “what is it good for?”. The problem with Europe is that there is too little of it and not too much. There is no truth in the statement that European completion was achieved too fast. Jacques Delors was right when he said: “...Europe's bicycle must run or it will fall”. Conclusion: not less but more rhythm and more boldness, passion, courage.
Europe and the LeftThe Left is an important component of the European Parliament. The European Left carries a great tradition since most leftist movements and theories began in Europe. Its role inside Europe is very important. In a Europe where economic development is projected as an important priority, the Left can promote the fair distribution of wealth, the eradication of social inequality, the protection of social benefits and the protection of the environment. Europe needs the Left and progressive movements in order to move towards European completion on a solid basis.

Political systems - Các hệ thống chính trị


In contemporary democracies politics are practiced for the benefit of their citizens. This section presents the history and basic principles of political systems and points out how national and European politics can influence the lives of citizens as well as how the citizens themselves can influence politics.

What is a political system

The gathering of people in groups and later on in settlement areas (villages- cities) led to a need for definition and acceptance of common rules of co-existence and survival. Those rules were either formed and passed on from generation to generation through tradition and religion or imposed by rulers (kings, aristocrats or tyrants).

People got organized in larger cities- states a fact which imposed the creation of a more complex system of rules (laws) and institutions. Due to the fact that they were addressed to the city and its inhabitants (its citizens) those rules were given the name “political system” (derived from the Greek πολίτης meaning “citizen”).

A political system is a summation of rules which determine:

The relations (rights and duties) among citizens, as well as between citizens and the community.

It also determines

  • how these rules are defined
  • how they are imposed or contended
  • how disputes and differences are settled
  • how the ones responsible to perform those procedures are chosen
  • how the system which will materialize all of the above must be established

In other words, a political system consists of all the rules and institutions which define how a state functions (in the broader sense).

Aristotle was the first to define the political system as [...την τάξιν ταις πόλεσι την περί τας αρχάς, τίνα τρόπον νενέμηνται και τι το κύριον της πολιτείας, και τι το τέλος της εκάστης κοινωνίας εστί..] (…in what way is power contributed in the cities, what is important for the state and what is the objective of each society…), (Politics III 5) a definition which stands to this day.

Political systems are divided into different groups sharing common characteristics called forms of government. For example, a democratic system has several forms of government such as parliamentary democracy, constitutional monarchy, direct democracy etc.

The political system in contemporary forms of government is usually defined by the constitution and constitutional laws.

  • The components of a political system

    The political system defines several aspects of the relationship between citizens and state institutions, as for example the basic liberties and civil rights, the form of governance, the kind and form of state authorities, the selection method of rulers and representatives, the state’s obligations towards its citizens, civil duties, etc.

    At this point a distinction must be made between political and legal, economic and cultural systems. Although a political system, by defining the relationship between citizens and state institutions, includes parts of the systems mentioned, they do not coincide and it is possible for a system to function independently.

    Legal System: Legislative functions are part of the political system. However, there are cases in the history of some nations where the whole body of laws regulating and defining the lives of citizens did not represent a complete political system because they did not define in detail the ways to choose a form of governance. Such are the cases of the code of Hammurabi, Solon’s reforms and the “Corpus Juris Civilis” issued by order of Justinian I, Byzantine Emperor.

    Economic System: The economic system is the summation of economic rules which regulate the production and distribution of goods and services. Thus, capitalism [the economic system which supports the management of production and capital by private initiative and determines transactions based on the free market] is an economic system which can be adopted by various political systems.

    Cultural System: Local culture (traditions, religion) can function independently or influence political systems, while in rare cases it can even determine the political system (Theocracy).

    Historical development of political systems:
    Historical evolvement of political systems- Starting point

    Early efforts to codify laws

    ΚώδικαςThe codification of laws does not institute a political system but an early form of structure in societies and can be considered a forefather of political systems. The first reference to a political system can be found in 3000 BC in Egypt. A civil code comprised of twelve volumes was written based on the principles of the deity Ma'at and included prohibitions, ethics, social equality and impartiality.

    Around 1760 BCE, the Babylonian king Hammurabi creates the Codex Hammurabi, the first legislative code, composed of several rules-laws.

    The 10 commandments as well as the entire first part of the Old Testament were written in the 6th century BC, according to contemporary scholars, during the exile of Jews in Babylon. The 10 commandments as well as basic instructions for organizing society described in those records are influenced by the Codex Hammurabi.

    Forms of government in the prehistoric era

    We have no knowledge of an existing political system in primitive societies. However, the study of societies dating back to this era (Bushmen, Aborigines) leads to the assumption that these small societies functioned in a democratic way that is, there were councils for decision making were everyone within that society participated while the elders were greatly respected.

    The prevailing form of government for the majority of prehistoric societies was monarchy, especially in the form of a dynasty where the right to succession is hereditary.

    However, it is thought likely that in the city-states of early Sumerian Mesopotamia (during the 3rd millennium BC) existed a democratic form of government with an elected leader. The system decayed due to continuous warfare. Other cases of early forms of collective power appear in ancient NW India before the 6th century BC, prior to the birth of Gautama Buddha. Those republics were known as Maha Janapadas. The Panchayat form of government (5 elected wise men who hold power converse with a citizens’ assembly) can still be found in certain communities in India today. In areas of modern day Afghanistan and Pakistan soldiers of Alexander the Great came across democratic forms of government and reported that “the form of government is democracy and not monarchy”


    Democracy in Ancient India by Steve Muhlberger

    Μesopotamia: Earliest Formal Democracy? by Raul S. Manglapus

    Historical development of political systems-Ancient Greece

    Early Greek Civilization

    The Pelasgian society, believed to be matriarchic and peace-loving, had a theocratic system. Property and probably family did not exist, at least not in the contemporary sense. The land belonged to the temples and all could cultivate it as long as they offered part of the crop to the temples in the form of donations. Important decisions were made by priestesses and all women were socially equal, while men were considered inferior and useful only for labour and reproduction. This regime was overthrown when warlike races descended from the North and took over the land, easily conquering the peace-loving indigenous population. Memories of this earlier state remained (amazons, important female deities like Rea, Gaia, Athena, Demeter, the Argonauts’ adventures, female place-names, priestesses and areas forbidden to men).

    Johann Jakob Bachofen Mother Right: An Investigation of the Religious and Juridical Character of Matriarchy in the Ancient World

    "Η καταγωγή της βασιλείας" (The origins of monarchy), Lekatsas Panagis, Kastaniotis 2006- (in Greek)

    Archaic period - Monarchy

    Επιστροφή του ΑγαμέμνοναIn Prehistoric Greece, monarchy is the dominant form of government. Miniature states, which are usually named after tribes, are ruled by kings. The king is the absolute leader, responsible for the functions and security of his city, aided by a council of elders (senate) or representatives from the tribes in his vicinity.

    Polis- A new form of state

    According to the inscriptions on the Parian Chronicle (1251 BC) the mythical Theseus united the 12 towns of Attica and established Democracy (from the Greek “rule by the people”). One historical version is that following the dissolution of the first Ionian League the towns of Attica decided to continue their collaboration by founding the polis of Athens. Ancientpoleis” (pl.) were not anastyanymore, meaning it was not a city in the contemporary sense, but a state which included the city. At the city centre there usually was a citadel, called the acropolis, and several suburbs and smaller settlements with their own local aristocrats and rulers. This is the reason why their names were in the plural form (Athens, Thebes). The people in a certain polis were called “polites” (citizens) while any reference to these new cities was made not in accordance to the place but in accordance to its citizens (Athenians, Spartans, etc). This structure led to a need for expansion of governance from one person to a group of people, as well as the gradual creation of a form of government effective for all citizens.

    Athenian Aristocracy

    In 800- 700 BC, noblemen or other aristocrats in Athens pushed kings aside and took over power by establishing an oligarchic form of government, which was later on called an “Aristocracy”.

    The society of the free Athenians (shown below) was separated into four classes: the Pentacosiomedimni (making a profit of 500 medimnoi annually, meaning very wealthy), the Hippeis (who are able to own and raise horses, moderately wealthy), the Zeugitai (farmers who own land) and the Thetes (all the rest).

    Slaves and metics (non Athenians) were not considered members of the society.

    In late 8th century BC a conflict began between aristocrats and merchants, farmers and craftsmen who were demanding access to power.

    In late 7th century BC, 9 elected rulers assumed power for one year. Those were:

    • the Archon Eponymos who was the polis’ leader
    • the Polemarch was in charge of the military
    • the Basileus who only held religious authority
    • six Thesmothetes who were involved in judicial and administrative issues.

    At the same time, the “Areios Pagos” (the chief homicide court), who had replaced the noblemen’s council, was supervising the Archons’ rule. Only the Pentacosiomedimni could participate in those positions, while probably in extremely rare occasions, when very important decisions had to be made, the Archon Eponymos would summon the Ecclesia, in which the Hippeis also participated.


    In the 8th century BC, Lycurgus unites the Spartan towns in one city, ranks all free Spartans as equals and sets a political system containing several democratic elements: The statutory political authorities were 2 kings, a thirty-member senate and the Apella (the popular assembly), in which all free Spartans over 30 years of age participated. The kings and the senate were elected by the Apella and they were lifelong rulers. Later on, 5 Ephors, who represented the 5 main towns of Sparta, were also elected annually by the Apella. The senate held legislative authority and the Apella would vote on the suggested laws without permission for further discussion. Women, Spartans younger than 30 years old, “helots” (the serfs of Sparta) and “perioikoi” (non-citizens) had no political rights and had to obey to Spartan laws.

    Structure of the Spartan political system

    This Democracy, although the first to issue equal rights without discrimination to all free citizens of Sparta, was overridden by the Senate on a number of occasions and the decisions of the Apella were not applied, for the common good.


    In mid 7th century BC, a new form of monarchy, the “tyranny”, appeared in many cities. Initially, it did not have the negative meaning it later on acquired. The tyrant was a form of absolute ruler, usually elected, with aristocratic lineage and not royal (as opposed to monarchy). Tyranny was not considered a direct form of government but rather an emergency form necessary in times of trouble and warfare. Tyranny expanded to most Greek cities (except Sparta).

    In 624 or 621 BC, the elected tyrant Drakon attempted to codify laws for the first time, imposing heavy sentences on law-breakers. The Areios Pagos gained great amount of power.

    Historical development of political systems- Athenian democracy

    In 507 BC, Democracy was established through Cleisthenes’ reforms:

    • Citizens were divided into 10 tribes which also represented military units. Each tribe lived in 1/3 urban, 1/3 rural and 1/3 seaside establishments, thus insuring that townsmen, farmers and fishermen were included in each tribe.
    • The Boule of the 500 which brought issues to the Ecclesia (the popular assembly) for discussion or vote was established.
    • The Court of Heliaia and the Areios Pagos were maintained.
    • 10 generals were elected annually as supreme military commanders, a position which also held great political importance.
    • In order to protect the new form of government from tyranny, “ostracism” was introduced; 10 year banishment for anyone with the ambition to set himself up as tyrant by overall vote from the citizens.
    • The selection of officials was characterized by equal participation of all tribes through vote or choice by lot.
    • Citizens held the right to propose laws to the assembly of voters.

    Administrative positions could be held by honest citizens coming from all social classes, who were paid a monthly salary for their work.

    Initially, only citizens from the upper classes could be Archons, but in 450 BC this restriction was abolished.

    Finally, an institution aiming to help the equal distribution of wealth was the “Leitourgia” (meaning public work) or “Chorigia” (sponsorship), a honourary tax addressed to wealthy citizens. The tax usually meant covering expenses for the construction of a trireme or the production of a tragedy.

    This form of government of the Athenian Republic was maintained throughout the Athenian dominance period and constituted the model for modern democracies.

    The Athenian Democracy, however, was a direct democracy and its basic differences with contemporary democracies are:

    1. Officials for several positions were elected through secret vote directly from the citizens or chosen by lot.
    2. Officials did not exceed one year of service and there was continuous change of position holders.
    3. A large number of citizens (approximately 7.000 simultaneously) participated in various functions. (This is why Pericles mentions in the “Epitaph”: “The rule of many and not a few is what we call a democracy”.)
    4. Laws were voted by all citizens, who also had the right to present an argument.
    5. Citizens could propose new laws.
    6. The salary of officials was as high as the basic salary of a farmer (in order to allow the poor to participate and to insure that money would not become the motive for assuming a position).
    7. Women, slaves and “metoikoi” (non Athenians) were not regarded as citizens.


    Historical development of political systems- Rome

    Monarchy (753-509 BC)

    The earliest form of government was an elected constitutional monarchy. Power was exercised by the king, the Senate and an assembly of 30 tribal representatives called “Comitia Curata”. Roman society was organized in classes and only members of certain tribes participated in politics, while the rest were considered politically inferior. The king was elected from a list of candidacies chosen by the tribes and submitted to the Senate. The king had to have the tribes’ consent on every decision. The king was also inspected by the Senate. The Roman Kingdom was ruled by a succession of seven kings.

    Democracy (509-27 BC)

    Several riots caused the abolition of monarchy and a form of Democracy was established which lasted for 500 years. This new form of government was called “res-publica” (public thing), meaning that power came from the people.

    In this democratic period, power was exercised by the Senate, the magistratus and public assemblies. The Senate was a council comprised of 300 members, chosen among tribal leaders, former administration officers etc. the Senate appointed the magistratus, who were elected by the public assemblies, the prefects and other administrative officers and held the legislative power.

    A magistratus was a kind of annually elected minister with specific responsibilities:

    • Consul. There were two Consuls who ruled in turns, presided over the Senate and were in charge of the army in times of war.
    • Praetor. Praetors were in charge of the judiciary branch of government.
    • Censor. Censors were responsible for maintaining the census, supervising public morality, and overseeing certain aspects of the government's finances, like collecting taxes etc.
    • Aedile. Aediles were responsible for the supply of food and other goods in Roman cities, the maintenance of public buildings and streets and the regulation of public festivals.
    • Quaestor. Quaestors supervised the treasury and financial affairs of the state.
    • Dictator. The Dictator was a temporary magistratus appointed by the Consuls in periods of war or crisis. He held absolute power over all other magistrates for six months.
    • Tribune. This magistracy was established several years after the foundation of the Roman Republic due to a public (Plebeians’) demand and in order to protect the public’s interests.

    Appius Claudius Caecus “the blind” enters the Senate in 280 BC.(Cesare Maccari, fresco, 1878)

    Appius Claudius Caecus was a patrician who served as Consul and Dictator. He was held responsible for the Roman defeat precipitated by Pyrrhus of Epirus (Pyrrhic victory). This fresco depicts his famous speech against an envoy of Pyrrhus of Epirus declaring that Rome would never surrender. This is the first recorded political speech in the Roman Senate, and the source of the saying "every man is the architect of his own fortune" (Latin: quisque faber suae fortunae).

    The public assemblies elected magistrates and approved or disapproved laws but could not introduce new laws. There were four public assemblies:

    • Comitia curiata was the oldest assembly of the Roman Republic. It consisted of tribal representatives and approved the magistrates elected by the other assemblies.
    • Comitia centuriata elected the Consuls, the Praetors and Censors.
    • Comitia tributa included both patricians and plebeians distributed among all Roman tribes and together they elected the Aediles and Quaestors.
    • Concilium plebis (Plebeian Council) was a subset of the Comitia tributa and was concerned with plebeian issues.

    For a closer look on the structure of government in ancient Rome go to:

    For more pictures on ancient Rome go to:

    The Roman Republic, in contrast to the Athenian, maintained its social structure (classes) and even though all free citizens participated in politics their civil rights were differentiated according to their class. As in the Athenian, the Roman Republic did not include slaves, who in 71 BC rose in rebellion, led by Spartacus, and looted the roman dominion.

    Cicero in his work De republica (51 BC) tried to emphasize on the concept of democracy, but to no avail since democracy was soon to be abolished by Roman Emperors.

    Cicero attacks Catalina (in the bottom right corner) in the Comitia curiata.

    (Cesare Maccari, fresco, 1880)

    The Roman Empire (27 BC- 476 AD)

    The Roman Empire lasted for five centuries and during that time it conquered the Mediterranean and became a vast and powerful empire with a well organized administrative and legal system. Emperors were originally elected by the Senate but they gradually imposed their authority through the army forces. They ruled the army and appointed or dismissed the magistrates as well as the prefects who governed many of the conquered territories of the vast empire. They were, in essence, the absolute dictators and they were worshiped as gods. The Senate was now composed of citizens from all over the empire and gradually it lost its definitive role and ended up a merely consultative assembly. The term “Res Publica” was still used in euphemism by the emperors, meaning that the administration was addressed to the people.

    Caesar’s last Senate (Source:

    In 212 AD, by decision of the emperor Caracalla, Roman citizenship was granted to freemen throughout the Roman Empire.

    The decline of the Western Roman Empire concluded in its fall by the year 476 AD.

    Historical development of political systems- Byzantium

    The Roman imperial system was maintained for another thousand years after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the converted to Christianity Eastern Roman Empire, later named by historians Byzantine Empire or Byzantium.

    The Senate, as a constitution, was maintained together with the magistrates (consuls, censors, aediles, praetors, etc.) to which other administrative positions, such as exarchs, vicars and hundreds of other honorary titles were later on added.

    Justinian I and his retinue (6th century AD). Mosaic from the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna.

    The ruler of the empire, originally called the imperator was renamed to “basileus” (the Greek word for king) and later on to “autokrator” (the Greek word for emperor). The basileus due to the Christian dogma was not worshiped as a god but was considered to be chosen by God and ruled with God’s grace. He was usually elected by the Senate, the people, the army and the local councils not by vote but by shouts of approval. However, it was not unusual for usurpers to take over the throne by force. In certain cases, due to the vastness of the empire two emperors ruled simultaneously, one in the eastern and one in the western part of the empire, as was the case with Justinus and Justinian.

    The Byzantine Empire contributed immensely to the legal system by organizing and codifying former Roman laws into the “Corpus Juris Civilis” (“Body of Civil Law”), creating a complex legal framework. The supreme judicial ruler was the basileus but a network of professional jurists was created throughout the empire, establishing professions such as lawyers and notaries. Supreme courts, such as the court of appeals, were established. Another court established by the “Corpus Juris Civilis” was a supreme court that produced quick decisions which were to be executed immediately even by the basileus himself.

    Painting of Emperor Basil II the Bulgar Slayer (976- 1025 AD) from a Byzantine manuscript.

    The Byzantine Empire was constantly engaged in warfare due to foreign threats. It was common for some military officers (Pronoiars) to receive land in exchange for their service which they could use but couldn’t be inherited or sold and they couldn’t use serfs to cultivate it. This institution set the basis of future feudalism.

    A main characteristic of the Byzantine Empire was the great power held by the Church and the clergy. For the first time in history the political leader (the basileus) is enthroned by the religious leader (the patriarch), a tradition that holds to this day in many countries. The Church accumulated wealth and even obtained the right to try and condemn citizens in ecclesiastic courts, while two members of the supreme four-member court of the empire had to be clergymen. The basileus had to be on good terms with the Church and on several occasions the Patriarch got involved in politics. Due to this close relationship established between the empire and the Church some historians classify Byzantine society as Theocratic and the political system as “caesaro-papalism” (power is held by the emperor and the religious leader).

    Historical development of political systems- Feudalism

    After the fall of the Western Roman Empire smaller kingdoms form in Europe and feudalism develops.

    Feudalism (a term first used during the French Revolution) refers to a form of government where noblemen hold excessive power in relation to the monarch. Feudalism was characterized by three primary elements: lords, vassals and fiefs. The lord was the master (not owner) of the land in his dominion and he made special agreements with the vassals. In these agreements the lord granted land (fief) to a vassal in order to cultivate it. In exchange, the vassal was obliged to provide military service to the lord and occasionally part of his crop. The lord was obliged to protect the land and the people in his dominion. These agreements which supported feudalism for centuries were necessary in a society with no administrative organization mainly because they ensured the protection of the people from foreign invaders. The vassals were linked to the fief and they were transferred along with it. In several occasions, a vassal due to some deed of valour for example, could be granted a larger area by the lord and by forming special relations with the other vassals a hierarchical pyramid would be formed.

    A lord grants land to vassals (14th century manuscript)

    The feudal system originates in the Roman Empire when the emperor began appointing officials in charge of large territories in order to control the vast empire. Following the fall of the empire, the owners became independent by establishing laws and local rulers thus forming miniature states in their territories. In cases where a number of fiefs were under the authority of a king, he granted that authority to local lords in exchange for taxes according to the land and military service in battles. Members of the clergy and monasteries could use their land with the same privileges and obligations as the lords.

    Feudalism began to collapse with the French Revolution, the creation of nations and the establishment of democratic systems of government in Europe. However, some forms of feudalism continue to exist.

    Historical development of political systems- Ottoman Empire

    In the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan was the absolute ruler aided by the Grand Vizier and the Divan. The Grand Vizier presided in the Divan which was a kind of imperial government. The Sultan did not participate in the Divan. The Grand Vizier and the Divan had a consultative role but they could influence the Sultan’s opinion. In late 16th century, the Sultan became a figure-head and the Grand Vizier became the de facto head of state aided by 4 - 11 other Viziers.

    The hall of the Divan (Pera Museum, Istanbul)

    The Ottoman Empire also had a feudal-like land tenure system. The fief analogue was called a timar and was granted to military officials and other nobles by the Sultan with similar terms as in the feudal systems in Western Europe. A timar could be bought by their holders and called a Çiflik (tsiflik).

    Historical development of political systems- Middle Ages

    Despite the prevalence of monarchies and feudalism in Europe, some institutions function in a more democratic way, while some countries begin to apply democratic procedures:

    • For a very long period, bishops were elected by vote throughout the diocese.
    • The Pope or Patriarch is elected- to this day- by bishops.
    • In 980 AD, the Icelandic commonwealth instituted the Althing; a parliament of 39 - 55 members comprised of landowners. The Althings established the laws and were carried out in open spaces where peasants could also attend.
    • In Uppsala, Sweden, every spring a general conference of all Swedes was held in which the king’s decisions were discussed and its decisions were binding on the king. This was part of a tradition existent from prehistoric times.
    • In Ireland, landowners and representatives of craftsmen created a local assembly, the túath, which convened once a year and its main functions were making decisions and validating the king’s election.
    • In Slavic countries, the Veche / Wiec were held; popular assemblies in different parts of the country, deciding on important issues such as declarations of war. The Sejm, a form of parliament which controlled the king, originates from this tradition and was established in Poland in 1146.
    • The tradition of the Veche / Wiec also gave birth to the republics of Novgorod and Pskov in the Baltic Sea, in the 12th -13th century. In these early forms of republic, in addition to the popular assemblies, there were noblemen’s councils which functioned democratically and the decisions made by the popular assemblies were taken into account in making their own decisions.
    • · The “Republic” of Venice. In Venice it was called “Serenissima Repubblica” (Serene Republic). In fact, it was an aristocratic form of government where power was distributed among the Doge and a number of councils and assemblies composed of noblemen who elected the Doge and made decisions by vote. However, this “democratic” form of government instituted, in a way, a model for later European democracies.

    A popular assembly (Wiec) in Pskov. (19th century painting by Vasnetsov)

    Early forms of republic in America

    In the American continent, between 1000 and 1450, the indigenous Iroquois had established a confederation of 5 - 6 tribes. The administration in this confederation, as well as in each tribe, was democratic. That is, there were councils elected by the people and representative councils. All citizens, even the women, could voice their opinion in these councils. It is believed that Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin conceived the idea of an American Confederation and Republic, not from ancient Greece and Rome but from the Iroquois. Another civilization with democratic elements was the Aztec. However, in this case the democracy did not refer to all citizens but mainly to a group of privileged well-off citizens.

    Historical development of political systems – Legal texts: Constitution

    The existence of a body of texts which define the interactions among citizens began, as mentioned above, with the code of Hammurabi, the laws of Solon and Draco and continued with the Roman and Byzantine laws (Theodosianos, Neares etc.). These texts were written by those in authority or a visionary as a body of laws that defined the penalties for criminal actions and insured some form of equality among citizens of the same social class. Since the Middle Ages, consistent with the demand of higher social classes as well as of citizens, these texts had began to define the limitations of the people in authority, thus insuring civic liberties.

    Constitutional Monarchy in England and the birth of the English Parliament

    In the 10th century, the English kingdoms, aiming to create a powerful state, united under one king. The king, however, needed the support of noblemen to rule. Therefore, the Great Council was established comprising of bishops, abbots, barons and counts (including knights later on) which supported and controlled the king.

    The Charter of Liberties

    The immense power of the king often led him to arbitrary actions. Thus, when king Henry I was enthroned in 1100, the noblemen forced him to sign the Charter of Liberties which protected them from the king's abuse of power and overtaxing.

    Magna Carta

    The succesors of king Henry I did not honor the Charter of Liberties and especially John of England (known as “Lackland”) who became king after the death of his brother, Richard I the Lionheart. John I, having lost English territories in the European mainland, imposed heavy taxes to the nobility and the people. This led to the uprising of the barons who invaded London in 1215 with full support of the people forcing John to agree to the terms of a document called the “Magna Carta Liberatum”.

    The most significant provisions of this document were: a) the king's power was placed under the complete control of the Great Council of noblemen and b) the writ of habeas corpus allowing appeal against unlawful imprisonment.

    Concerning the habeas corpus, article 39 of the Magna Carta stated that: “ No free man shall be arrested, or imprisoned, or deprived of his property, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way destroyed, nor shall we go against him or send against him, unless by legal judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land”.

    The Magna Carta instituted Constitutional Monarchy in Europe and was a breakthrough on civic liberties and equality by protecting citizens from unlawful punishment and establishing the ability to protect their rights.

    The Magna Carta is the first legal text in contemporary history. It set the foundations of equality of rights and constituted a model for legal texts and constitutions to follow.


    The Magna Carta was repeatedly violated by the king. This caused the barons led by Simon de Montfort, a nobleman of French lineage, to revolt against king Henry III in 1263. The rebels arrested the king and decided to appoint a government comprised of 15 noblemen. They extended the institution of the Great Council to a new council which included two elected representatives from the burgesses of each borough in addition to the noblemen. This new council, which convened on January 20th, 1265 for the first time, was discussing administrative issues and was therefore called the “parliament” deriving from the French-latin verb parler, meaning to talk. This parliament is considered as the base of parliamentary democracy.

    Upper Chamber and Lower Chamber

    In 1341, the clergy and the barons decided to convene separately, thus separating the parliament to an Upper Chamber or The House of Lords and a Lower Chamber or the House of Commons in which knights and elected representatives participated. Although this action seemingly weakened the Lower Chamber, it was essentially vital in order to legitimize the implementation of laws. Laws had to be approved by both Chambers while the House of Lords was responsible for upholding the laws. This bipolar model is still existent in England. (The Labour Party administration only recently tried to limit the power of the House of Lords).

    Legal texts from other countries

    Important documents on civil rights are:

    • In 1220, approximately, in Saxony of the feudalistic Germany the “Saxenspiegel” (=Saxon Mirror) group of laws is drawn. Important elements of these laws are

      • it is written in a plain German language in order to be understood by all citizens and

      • it consisted of two sections:

    1. the Common Laws concerning the rights and duties of all free citizens and

    2. the Feudalistic Legislation describing the rights and duties of noblemen.

    • In the 14th century, the Serbian emperor Stefan Dusan establishes the short-lived “Empire of Serbs and Greeks” (1346-1371) stretching from Bosnia to the Korinthian Gulf where Serbian and Greek were the official languages. In the process of organizing this vast empire, he drew up the “Dusan Code” stating civil rights with a remarkable for the time emphasis on equality. The Code was promulgated in two conferences; in 1349 in Skopje in the Serbian language and 1354 in Serres in the Greek language. A characteristic abstract from the Code states that:

    “If any poor woman cannot defend herself she will be able to choose an attorney to speak for her. The poorest spinster will be as free as a priest.

    If His Royal Highness writes a letter to someone and in case such a letter is in violation of the Code and justice as it is stated in the Code, the magistrates will not comply in accordance to His Person but in accordance to what the law commands.”

    • In 13th century Switzerland, independent fiefs began to unite in a federation model (a model that will be later used in the structure of the U.S.A., Germany and the E.U.). In this federation, power is exercised not by a single monarch but by a group of noblemen who decide by vote.

    • In 1950, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is established. It included a large territory consisting of Poland, the Baltic countries and parts of contemporary Ukraine and SW Russia. The Commonwealth's political system was called the “Nobility Democracy” or “Golden liberty” because all decisions, including the election of the monarch, were made by parliaments in which noblemen represented all the fiefs of the commonwealth. This system, essentially still semi-feudal, ran smoothly for a century but was later on characterized by bondsmen uprisings, anarchy and military interventions.

    Renaissance – Humanism

    The humanistic movement during the Renaissance period (late 14th - 15th century) rediscovered ancient Greek and Latin literature and through that, the principles of the Athenian and Roman Republic. As a result, the absolute rule of the clergy and the nobility was challenged for the first time and the humanists developed an issue of overall public participation in administration as it existed in those ancient republics.

    18th - 19th century

    In 15th - 17th century Europe monarchy is the dominant form of governance, with the exceptions mentioned above, led by the clergy and fief lords. However, from the late 17thcentury, the influence of the Age of Enlightenment began to democratize the existent political systems.

    • In England, after the Glorious Revolution that the two Chambers launched against the king in 1688, the British Parliament drew up the “Bill of Rights” or as it is formally called “ An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown” (1689). This declaration, as a successor to the Magna Carta, constituted a new kind of Constitution for England, it redefined the rule of the monarch limiting his absolute power and it secured the parliament's authority by placing its authority above all other institutions, transforming the political system to a constitutional parliamentary monarchy. The declaration was amended in 1701 and 1707 in England and Scotland.

    • In 1755, Corsica under the leadership of Pasquale Paoli detached from the Republic of Genoa and instituted an independent republic. Paoli, influenced by Jean- Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire, drew up the first constitution of contemporary Europe which provided, among others, women's right to vote. 14 years later, the island was conquered by the French and the Corsican Republic was incorporated into France. Paoli's constitution, however, was widely known mainly due to important figures of the Enlightenment and constituted a model for the ones that followed soon after.

    • After the end of the war between the English and the French in 1763, the British imposed heavy taxes on the American colonials on the pretext of protecting them against enemy troops. The colonials, having no right of representation in the British parliament, deemed this decision illegal and offensive to their civil rights, as they were stated in the “ Bill of Rights”, and thus they revolted.

    • In 1772, District Councils were established, replacing British authorities and after a three-year war for independence, on July 4th 1776, representatives from 13 colonies of Northern America drew up and adopted the “Declaration of Independence” which in essence founded the United States of America. The “Declaration of Independence” was influenced by the British “Bill of Rights” (the right to a fair trial) and especially by the Virginia Bill of Rights (June 1776). Contrary to European legal texts, however, there was no distinction between social classes due to the fact that American society had no nobility. Republicanism and liberalism (equality and freedom) were its basic principles: “...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.

    • In 1787, the United States Constitution is drawn up. This text is the world's first federal constitution, valid to this day with the addition of some amendments.

    • In 1791, in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the May 3rd Constitution was drawn up on the people's demand. The constitution provided for political equality between the bourgeoisie and nobility and placed farmers under state protection against injustice by the nobility. This constitution worried Catherine II of Russia, who considered the Commonwealth as a de facto protectorate of Russia, and in cooperation with Prussia in fear of an overall revolt roused by the French, they attacked the Commonwealth a year later and divided its territories, decreasing it to 1/3 of its original size.

    • In 18th century France, the dominant political system was absolute monarchy, as it was established by Louis XIV of France (1643- 1715). The king along with a few higher officials appointed by him could institute laws, define taxation and manage public funds in any way he pleased, using great amounts for his own pleasure. A large group of noblemen and clerics enjoyed privileges, residues of feudalism, while a third class of bourgeois businessmen had began to develop (lawyers, merchants, bankers, state employees). People in this class, however, as well as common folk had no access to power.

      In the second half of the 17th century, France and its political system went into a deep crisis that lead people to revolt against the upper classes, known as the French Revolution. The reasons behind the French Revolution are numerous:

            • Economic crisis. The French state was in the bring of economic disaster. Their active participation in the American War of Independence had emptied the treasury.

            • In spite of the economic crisis, the palace continued to squander money.

            • The economic reforms attempted by the king had failed.

            • The nobility, seeing the decadence of the throne and the possibility of losing tax remission, sought the opportunity to seize power.

            • The emerging Third Class, which basically controlled the economy, also sought access to power.

            • The French philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment and other intellectuals had begun to implant the ideals of equality and democracy to the people.

            • The American Independence constituted a positive example.

    The events leading to the revolution were:

    In 1788, following his unsuccessful attempts to reform the economy, Louis XIV decided to assemble the “Etats-Generaux” (Estates-General), meaning the nobility, the clergy and the general public. Representatives from the Third Class, chosen by national vote, also participated in the assembly. The assembly convened in May 1789, but matters were made worse because although the people's assembly (Third Estate) held the majority, the other two assemblies, in order to protect their interests, decided that each assembly would be represented by one vote. The people's assembly withdrew from the proceedings in protest and led the people to revolt in a display of its power. The harvest of 1788 was extremely poor due to bad weather conditions and food was extremelly overpriced. Therefore, people were sinking to abjection and rousing a revolt needed little effort.

    The starting point of the Revolution was the storming of the Bastille (holding mainly political prisoners) in July 14th, 1789 (French national anniversary since 1880).

    The French Revolution stands for the social reform from a feudalistic to a modern society. The economically robust third class was dominant for the first time, taking over power from the nobility who were already declining. The representatives of the third class instituted the National Constitutional Assembly, which on August 26, 1789, voted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (“Déclaration des droits de l'Homme et du citoyen»), a model for most constitutions which followed.

    The French Revolution initiated a transition to democracy. The power of monarchs gradually diminished through constitutions and parliaments while in the 20th century, the percentage of democratic states had a spectacular increase. Today, although in many cases the lack of democracy is evident, democracy- even though in theory- is the indisputable political system that can guarrantee liberty, equality and prosperity.

    Classification of political systems

    The first historical reference to political systems was made by Herodotus (separation in kingdoms, Aristocracy and Isonomy). However, Aristotle is the one who was seriously engaged in the analysis and classification of political systems. It is believed that he wrote on the political systems of 158 countries but only the Constitution of Athens (or Athenaiōn Politeia) has survived to this day.

    According to Aristotle, when the supreme authority of a state is represented by a single person the political system is called a monarchy. When it is represented by more than one person that come from the class of “aristoi” (from the Greek word for noblemen), then he calls the political system an aristocracy. Finally, when the supreme authority of a state is represented by its entire population, the political system is called a democracy. According to the philosopher, these three political systems are correct only when they work for the common good. Otherwise, they digress from their definition. He considered tyranny to be the degenerate counterpart to monarchy, oligarchy to be the degenerate counterpart to aristocracy and ochlocracy (government by mob) to be the degenerate counterpart to democracy.

    Aristotle also sets subsets of these three political systems:

    Aristotle’s subsets of political systems




    · Monarchy heroic era

    · Barbarian monarchy -totalitarian, hereditary by law

    · Aesymniteaian monarchy –tyranny with elections

    · Laconic monarchy –rule by a hereditary general

    · Absolute monarchy the king rules all

    · Oligarchy-by paying a great price

    · Aristocracy by paying a small price

    · Aristocracy hereditary succession

    · Dynasty hereditary aristocracy where the noblemen rule and not the law

    · Democracy of equality, equal rights for all indiscriminately

    · Democracy

    defined by small social groups · Democracy –defined by irreproachable citizens

    · Democracy of overall participation

    · Ochlocracy – the resolutions hold more power than the laws

    Plato added another kind of political system which he called a timocracy, where power is held by one tribe which is imposed on all other tribes.

    We could classify political systems into two categories according to the source and control of power:

    Authoritarian systems (where power is held by one person or a small group of people and is inaccessible to the majority of the people)

    Monarchy (Autocracy- Absolute monarchy- Tyranny)

    Power is held by a ruler of hereditary title, a usurper or even an elected ruler.

    Constitutional monarchy

    A form of monarchy with limitations to the monarch’s power set by a constitution which he cannot alter.


    Power is held by one or more people - usually military officers - who overthrow the previous system by force.


    The people’s power is limited and a dictator or an oligarchy serves the nation and the prevailing nationality group, at the expense of minority or other nationality groups.


    Power is held by a group of noblemen.


    Power is held by a small group - not necessarily of aristocratic origin.


    Regardless of the existence of a central authority, power is regionally controlled by local lords - landowners.


    Religious leaders and dogma hold the primary role in decision making.

    Class system

    A particular social class imposes itself on the rest, to its benefit.

    Democratic systems (where power can be controlled by the people in various degrees according to each system)

    Parliamentary democracy

    Power is held by the elected representatives of the people who form the parliament.

    Presidential democracy

    Supreme authority is held by an elected or hereditary ruler (e.g. a king) who is greatly controlled by democratic institutions, like a parliament.


    A unity of small semi-independent states with a central administration where decisions are made in a democratic way.

    Direct democracy

    All decisions are made by the people.

    Consensus democracy

    The people participate decisively in decision making.

    Representative democracy

    Power is exercised in a democratic way by the people’s representatives, such as class or guild of representatives, community leaders and other elected representatives.

    Socialist democracy

    (The Soviet model)

    Power is exercised by an extended social group e.g. the working class.

    These political systems are greatly influenced by certain socio-economic systems and theories, such as:

    • Capitalism (production management and capital distribution by private individuals and corporations and determination of transactions based on the free market)
    • Liberalism (its main goal is the religious, political or economic freedom of the individual)
    • Neoliberalism (privatization, reduction of government control on the economy and release of private initiative from bureaucracy - free market)
    • Socialism (the means of production and distribution of goods are owned and controlled by social groups or the government)
    • Communism (common ownership, equal social status and rights for all)
    • Anarchism (rejection of compulsory government and promotion of self-management with personal responsibility for the person’s actions on him/herself and society)
    • Eco-anarchism (emphasizes the environment and supports a form of society with small autonomous eco-communities of 50-150 people)
    • Nationalism (the nation constitutes the supreme ideal and politics serve the interests of the indigenous nationality group often at the expense of minority nationalities or other nations. Fascism, for example, is an extreme form of nationalism)
    • National-socialism (combination of Socialism and Nationalism)
    Totalitarian systems of government

    Totalitarian regimes developed in different forms of government depending on the interests of the social class that established them:

    a. Absolute monarchy is the type of monarchy where the monarch is bound by laws he himself establishes as the head of state. Initially, the monarch used power which came from God and personified the nation (King Louis XIV of France). In the Roman Empire, the people transfered power to the emperor and exempted him from the law. The same idea was adopted by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century when he wrote his theory on submission. In modern Greece, from 1833 until 1843, there was an absolute monarchy system imposed by the United Kingdom, France and Russia by the 1832 Treaty of London (article 3), as counterweight to the recognition of the Greek state and as guarantee that the monarch would serve their own interior and international interests. On 25.04.1832 the Treaty of London was signed and the Bavarian Prince Otto was installed to the Greek throne.

    b. Constitutional monarchy is the type of monarchy where the power held by the monarch is regulated by a Constitution, which he cannot alter or abrogate. It appears for the first time in the Middle Ages with the establishment of land tenure systems, such as feudalism, which gradually limited the monarch’s power and lasted until 1919 (in Germany). The monarch holds the authority granted by the Constitution, as well as those which are not formally attributed to another office and participates in constitutional reforms. Greece was a constitutional monarchy from 1844 until 1862.

    Hereditary succession was not the only principle in monarchy. An elected monarchy existed in ancient Rome, the German states of Medieval Europe and Byzantium.

    In the 19th century, parliamentary monarchy appeared in Europe, parallel to the establishment of universal suffrage. Parliamentary monarchy is a type of limited monarchy where ministers are appointed and dismissed by the monarch, but must be approved by parliament in order to remain in office. This system represents the last phase in the transition to a combination of parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy as exists in the United Kingdom today.

    Monarchy was based on the theory of “state neutrality” by Benjamin Constant (1767-1830), according to which in order to prevent society from breaking up due to conflicting social interests you need a neutral administration, represented by a monarch who will salvage the unity and cohesion of the state. This principle is the pseudonym of a policy oriented by economic and social interests expressed by the monarchs. The goal of this policy is to rise above political and social controversy in order to appear historically and logically justified.

    There are still existing political sytems based on monarchy.


    Map of actual political sytems based on monarchy (2007)

    Constitutional monarchy Commonwealth realm Semi-constitutional monarchy Absolute monarchy Monarchy in some subnational entities

    c. In totalitarianism (e.g. Nazi Germany, former “existent socialism”) there is little room left for private and public action. In an autocratic regime power is not subjected to control by the majority, in contrast to democracy. Absolutism accompanies the totalitarian character of a form of government where power extends and penetrates the private aspects of people’s lives based on a dominant ideology which attempts to reproduce itself by ideologically fixed regulations. This procedure produces an administration concerned not only with economy but with social life, family, personal relations and political beliefs of citizens.

    Democratic system of government

    Democracy is the political system where the people hold supreme authority. Therefore, democracy means that the only source of power is the people (Pericles, in his work “Epitaph”, mentions that “Democracy is not the rule of a few but the rule of many”). The term “democracy” is included in many completely different and unrelated political systems. The reason for this is quite obvious and concerns the validation characteristics ascribed by the majority principle and the procedure it entails. Almost every political and government functions, political systems and constitutions are self-characterized as democratic. They attempt to legitimize their rule by invoking a democratic principle, showing the people as their source of power.

    Modern democracy is a pluralistic system of government, based on the acceptance of the plurality of social interests and their conflict.

    Thomas Hobbes’ (1588-1679) “social contract” theory was the first to set the people, meaning the group of people living in a country, as the validating factor for sovereign sway in 1651. To avoid the danger of foreign assault and war, civil war included, the people of a state jointly agree to a social contract by which they assign rights to the sovereign authority (civitas), i.e. the state (Leviathan).

    John Locke (1632-1704) advanced the social contract theory claiming that the rights assigned to the state are the ones which can only be realized through their assignment to the state.

    Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712- 1778) influenced the social contract theory with his work “Contrat social”. He perceived that private property and lack of equality leads to social controversy and competition, aggravated by the establishment of a state and followed by the coercion of officials. Individuals, joined together by the social contract, can remain free because they submit their rights to the authority of the general will as a whole and are led to a state of self-determination for all members of society. Thus, in democracy the person is also a citizen, the ruler is also ruled. The result is an inalienable, undivided, infallible and unrestricted popular rule.

    These notions defined the ideological content of the French revolution in 1789. In article 3 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (26.08.1789) the nation is defined as the source of power (and not the people, because its writers didn’t want the king to be a symbol of the nation but simply a representative of the nation and its primary public servant) and it is stated that no association or individual can practice power not given by the nation. Therefore, later French constitutional texts are based on national rule while American constitutional texts are based on popular rule.

    In practice, the principle of popular rule does not mean that the ruler and the ruled are the same but that the principle of majority rule is adopted. In Greece, national rule, meaning rule by the people - influenced by the French revolution’s ideals and as a way to emphasize the national character of the Greek Revolution of 1821, as well as question the King’s right to speak for the nation; a right which is constitutionally held by the people - was established for the first time in the 1827 Constitution of Troezen and followed by the Constitutions of 1864, 1911, 1927, 1952 and 1975; a revised version of which is in force today. Therefore, in a broader sense, all Greeks are part of the people and comprise the source of power. Authority is exercised in the name of everyone in the electorate, i.e. the electors, who are a part of the people having civil rights, therefore the people. Alexandros Svolos points out that “electors, provided that free will is ensured, are divided according to their social class and group and…within each of them they form a different common will according to their opposing or differing social and moral interests”. Conflicts within society are elements of the order established by a constitution, which has its legal basis on popular will, and for this reason the majority principle is instituted.

    Democracy defines a procedure which leads to the formation of a unified state and political will, the materialization of which should lead to unity. In theocratic regimes, the dominant will is the one which is stated as the word of God. In monarchic regimes, the dominant will is that of the monarch. In Nazi Germany, the dominant will was that of Adolf Hitler, who as the head of state presented the joint popular will.

    The establishment and practical application of the principle of popular rule produced elements such as freedom, equality, elected officials, distinction of authorities, self-limitation of the people’s rule and the majority principle necessary for the relativity of the principle of popular rule and for the appreciation of basic social conflict. The majority principle is in force in democracy, exclusively and permanently. However, other concepts like “active citizens”, “social justice”, “national interest” make democracy relative because in some cases they limit, or even cancel the majority principle and in other cases they constitute the frame and terms for its application.

    There are as many democratic political systems as there are types and aspects of democracy. Some of them are direct and representative democracy, which include parliamentary and presidential democracy, democracy with a sovereign king or president, etc.

    The democracy of the Golden Age of Pericles is an example of direct democracy, where the people instituted the only state function and practiced power through their assemblies. It is impossible for a true direct democracy to exist today. However, new technologies and the internet can play an important role in incorporating and improving the function of elements of direct democracy (like referendums, the legislative initiative of citizens, etc.) to existing types of democratic systems.

    In representative democracy power is assigned to the people’s representatives, granted that the source of power is the people. The relationship between representatives and the people is ruled by the principle of free and not authoritative command, therefore representatives are not bound by the particular will of the group that elects them.

    In presidential parliamentary democracy the government, which depends on the parliament’s vote of confidence, constitutes the executive branch while the President of the Republic, i.e. the head of state, does not actively exercise executive powers. The Greek Republic is a presidential parliamentary democracy.

    In presidential democracy, as in the U.S.A., the President of the Republic is the head of state and government, therefore the government does not depend on the parliament’s vote of confidence but on the head of state. If the directly elected President is granted important authorities and the government depends on the parliament’s vote of confidence, the system is called a semi-presidential democracy, as in France. If the executive branch is totally dependent on the people’s representatives and therefore the legislative and judiciary authority are intertwined and subjected to the legislature, then the system is called a ruling parliament, as in Switzerland.

    If the head of state is elected the democracy is called presidential and if the title is hereditary it is called a Westminster system democracy (modelled after that of the United Kingdom system).

    Democratic Democracy?

    A political system may be called a democracy without actually implementing the characteristics of a democratic system.

    In this world map all countries who claim to be democracies are depicted in blue.

    In this map the actual degree of liberty is depicted according to a research by the Economist magazine in 2007. Lighter colors represent more democratic systems.

    Democracy needs to be based on the citizens’ and the public servants’ political conscience. The regulatory role of the President is deeply political. His purpose is to facilitate dialogue between political parties and other representative groups, based upon the preservation of public rule. Public administration, education, justice and the armed forces are state functions and therefore each institution has the right to think politically and to realize the political significance and consequences of its actions.
    The state represents the functional union of legislation and society. The Constitution is the process of this unification. Constitutional Law is the technique of political liberty. Democracy obtains its meaning only through its history for there is no aspect of social and public life not connected to democratic evolution, as well as its universality, since democracy extends throughout state functions and social life. There is no aspect of social and public life not connected to democracy. The function of majority rule presupposes the recognition of public opinion as a constitutionally valid factor, the constitutional importance of political societies, such as organized social groups and non governmental organizations, as necessary carriers for the materialization of democratic principles.
    People must be free and equal, especially in the eyes of the law, and therefore democracy is essential. However, as Anatole France said: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread”. Someone could claim that representative democracy is a fraud because, in essence, every four years you decide which of the dominant classes will represent you and basically oppress you. If property and control of mass media rests in the hands of those few who have the necessary capital how is it that anyone can publish what he wants, where he wants and therefore what kind of freedom is there in the Press? What is the meaning of having freedom of opinion when you can’t do what you can’t act as you believe?
    These questions are not misguided. However, political democracy is a big historical conquest. Democratic institutions don’t serve the dominant classes alone. In the course of relevant historical procedures, the function of constitutional institutions and democratic processes offer the ability for a wider frame of organization and ideological evolvement resulting to democratic liberties which are not mere formalities. On the contrary, they insure an elevated position of rights assertion, the role of which becomes extremely notable when eliminated. The populist equalization of parliamentary democracy to dictatorship oversimplifies, oversees and distorts reality. Constitutional institutions are not a mechanical reflect of social and economic structures. A structural and dialectic unity and interaction exist between these structures and the political system. The legal and political structure is relatively independent of these structures but defines historical evolution. Constitutions express and regulate the social relations of dominance and production. Democratic conquests must be seriously and responsibly assessed. In order to advance, democracy had to be kept alive and in order to keep it alive it had to be allowed to advance. All that is needed is that the correlation of social and political forces is such that benefits the expansion and advance of democracy, even though that can intensify its crisis.
    In order to improve the function and efficiency of our democratic system and to adjust it within the frame of our participation in international groups, we must reprocess it to enable it to combine the democratic legalization and entry of more and newer groups into politics. The crisis and pathogenesis of democracy lies in the political system, the partisan phenomena and politics. Therefore, clean solutions and relationships are needed. Distinguishable roles between the carriers of public, economic and social life, clarification of the role of modern society in national and European level are necessary.
    Finally, politics is the science and art of alternative solutions, management of time, risk and threats, running the economy, recognizing moral limitations. A political leadership signifies the ability to transform problem into opportunity, crisis into new possibility, error to innovation, failure to success. The political system established by contemporary parliamentary democracy must aim to achieve the point where risk is low and output is high in decision-making and materialization. The political system can and must manage uncertainty and danger for the whole society in order to release innovative social forces, exalt social wealth, opportunities, choices and possibilities and to minimize fear and insecurity produced by the scientific and technological revolution, globalization, completion and expansion of the market, and personalization procedures in modern society.