Fact Sheet - US Political System
1. The US System of Government
Separation of power
Executive = The President (government)
Legislature = Congress which consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives
Judiciary = The Supreme Court
- All three powers are equally important = balance; all three powers control (= check) one another that is why the whole system is called a System of Checks and Balances.
The President is Head of State and Head of the Executive; he is not a member of Congress. He holds a very strong position; it is difficult to remove him (impeachment).
Legislative Power: divided between Congress and the individual states. Power of Congress restricted to 18 subjects. Controls the President's policies (finances!).
Judiciary: Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional (= controls Congress)
2. Stages of the US election Campaign
A presidential election takes place every four years.
a) primaries - March to June; The parties test their candidates to find the man with the best appeal to the electorate.
b) national party conventions; The two parties (Republicans and Democrats) nominate their candidates for the presidency. In 1992: Democratic National Convention: New York; July; Republican National Convention: Houston, Texas, August.
c) Election Day (popular vote): in November
d) Electoral College meets in December and officially "elects" the new president according to the results of the November elections (= only a formality)
e) Inauguration - January 20; The new President takes the oath of office. He is sworn in by the highest judge of the Supreme Court. The new President delivers a speech: The Inaugural Address (= an outline of his general policy).
4. Presidential Election results
In 1992: Bill Clinton (Democrat): 42 %; George Bush (Republican): 38 %; Ross Perot (Reform): 17 %
In 1996: Bill Clinton (Democrat): 49 %; Bob Dole (Republican): 41 %; Ross Perot (Reform): 8 %