US Politics - Cours d'Anglais avec Maxicours - Lycée

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US Politics

1. The institutions
According to the Constitution, the government is separated in three bodies: executive, legislative and judicial. Each one is independent from the others and can check and balance them.
a. The executive
To be elected president, a candidate must be over 35, has to be born in the US and resident in the country for the previous 14 years. He is elected for 4 years and, according to the 22nd Amendment, can only be re-elected once.

The president and vice-president are not elected by direct election. It is done by an electoral college. Each state directly elects as many electors as it has Congressmen. These electors – who compose the electoral college – vote for the president and the vice-president separately.

The president is elected in November but takes office in January of the following year. If the president dies in office, the vice-president succeeds him automatically.

The president carries out the laws but has a right of veto over Congress bills. He also chooses ambassadors, federal judges and members of his Cabinet (called Secretaries).

As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, he can order military operations and negotiate treaties.

He may also be impeached.

b. The legislative
It is known as Congress and is divided in two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The House of Representatives: its 435 members are elected for a two years and the House is entirely renewed at the end of this term. Each state has representatives according to its population. The main role of the House is to make laws.

The Senate: Its members are elected for six years. One third of the Senate retires every two years. Each state has two Senators.

The Senate can inaugurate bills (except money bills) but the bills must be assented by both houses before being signed by the President.

It also approves all presidential appointments.

c. The judiciary
The Supreme Court is composed of nine judges appointed for life. It is the head of the courts of appeal and it rules on the constitutional validity of a law.
2. Federalism
The US have a federal system of government: it means that each state has the same structure as the country.

The states are ruled by a governor who is directly elected.

3. Political parties
The presidential candidates usually belong to the two main parties:
– the Republican Party – or Grand Old Party (GOP): it is rather conservative and its emblem is the elephant;

– the Democratic Party: it is left wing and is represented by a donkey.

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