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Levels of Government in the United States of America
(Уровни системы управления в США)

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Levels of Government in the United States of America


Politics of the United States of America takes place in a framework of a federal presidential representative democratic republic. The President of the United States is both head of state and head of government, and of a two-party legislative and electoral system.

Executive power is exercised by the government, which is headed by the President and independent of the legislature. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Judicial power is excercised by the judicial branch (or judiciary), comprised of the United States Supreme Court and lower federal courts. The function of the judiciary is to interpret the United States Constitution as well as the federal laws and regulations. This includes resolving disputes between the executive and legislative branches. The federal government of the United States was established by the United States Constitution. American politics has been dominated by two major parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, ever since the American Civil War. There have also always existed other minor parties of minor political significance.

Major differences between the political system of the United States and that of most other developed democracies are the power of the U.S. Senate as the upper house of the legislature, the wide scope of power of the U.S. Supreme Court, the separation of power between the legislature and the executive government, and the dominance of the two main parties (the United States is the only developed democracy without a major third party).

Types of the U.S. Governments

Federal, state and local governments

The federal entity created by the Constitution is the dominant feature of the American governmental system. However, every person outside the capital is subject to at least three governing bodies: the federal government, a state, and/or a local government, usually a county [округ]. Within a city they are also subject to the local government and possibly a district. Each level has its own political system.

This complexity of jurisdictions reflects the country's history. The federal government was created by former colonies that had been established separately and had governed themselves independently of the others. Within these colonies were counties and towns with varying levels of development and therefore different administrative needs. Rather than replacing the states' legal systems with a single government, the Constitutional Convention [Конституционный Конвент - Состоялся 25 мая - 17 сентября 1787 в Филадельфии при участии 55 делегатов из 12 штатов (без участия представителей Род-Айленда); выработал Конституцию США. Конвент был созван с целью пересмотра "Статей Конфедерации" [Articles of Confederation], но под председательством Дж. Вашингтона разработал совершенно иные принципы государственности.] chose to keep the states largely self-governing. As the country expanded, it admitted new states modeled on the existing ones.

State government

Before their independence, colonies governed themselves separately under the authority of the British Crown. In the early years of the republic, prior to the adoption of the Constitution, each state was virtually an autonomous unit. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention sought a stronger, more viable federal union, but they could not ignore state traditions, nor the interests of state politicians.

In general, matters that lie entirely within state borders are the exclusive concern of state governments. These include internal communications [внутренние контакты]; regulations relating to property, industry, business, and public utilities [коммунальные услуги]; the state criminal code [уголовный кодекс]; and working conditions [условия труда] within the state. Within this context, the federal government requires that state governments must be republican in form and that they adopt no laws that contradict or violate the federal Constitution or the laws and treaties of the United States.

There are, of course, many areas of overlap [наложение, совпадение, перекрытие] between state and federal jurisdictions.

Like the national government, state governments have three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial; these are roughly equivalent in function and scope to their national counterparts. The chief executive of a state is the governor, elected by popular vote [голоса избирателей], typically for a four-year term (although in a few states the term is two years). Except for Nebraska [nI'brxskq], which has one legislative body, all states have a two-chamber [двухпалатный] legislature, with the upper house usually called the Senate and the lower house called the House of Representatives, the House of Delegates [Палата делегатов], or the General Assembly [Генеральная ассамблея].

In addition to the previous usage, some states refer to the entire state legislature as the "General Assembly", with two houses within it. In most states, senators serve four-year terms, and members of the lower house serve two-year terms.

The constitutions of the various states differ in some details but generally follow a pattern similar to that of the federal Constitution, including a statement of the rights of the people and a plan for organizing the government. On such matters as the operation of businesses, banks, public utilities, and charitable institutions, state constitutions are often more detailed and explicit [ясный, подробный] than the federal one. Each state constitution, however, provides that the final authority belongs to the people, and sets certain standards and principles as the foundation of government.

City government

Once predominantly rural, the United States is today a highly urbanized country, and about 80 percent of its citizens now live in towns, large cities, or suburbs of cities. This makes city governments very important. To a greater extent than on the federal or state level, the city directly serves the needs of the people, providing everything from police and fire protection to sanitary codes [санитарные нормы], health regulations, education, public transportation, and housing.

The business of running America's major cities is enormously complex. In terms of population alone, New York City is larger than 41 of the 50 states. It is often said that, next to the presidency, the most difficult executive position in the country is that of mayor of New York.

City government charters detail the objectives and powers of the municipal government. In many respects the cities function independently of the states. For most big cities, however, cooperation with both state and federal organizations is essential to meeting the needs of their residents.

Types of city governments vary widely across the nation. However, almost all have some kind of central council, elected by the voters, and an executive officer [должностное лицо с исполнительными функциями], assisted by various department heads, to manage the city's affairs.

There are three general types of city government: the mayor-council [совет при мэре, муниципальный совет], the commission [комитет], and the council-manager [council-manager plan модель управления "совет-управляющий" ("План совет-управляющий") Форма городского самоуправления, при которой власть в городе сосредоточена в руках избираемого на непартийной основе городского совета [city council] из пяти - семи человек, который для целей повседневного управления городом нанимает профессионала-управляющего [city manager] , который в свою очередь набирает штат руководителей управлений городского хозяйства. Совет в этой системе определяет политику городского управления, нанимает управляющего и избирает из своего состава мэра с представительскими функциями. Модель возникла в XX в., применяется примерно в 2 тыс. городов США).]. These are the pure forms; many cities have developed a combination of two or three of them.

Mayor-Council. This is the oldest form of city government in the United States and, until the beginning of the 20th century, was used by nearly all American cities. Its structure is similar to that of the state and national governments, with an elected mayor as chief of the executive branch and an elected council that represents the various neighborhoods forming the legislative branch. The mayor appoints heads of city departments and other officials, sometimes with the approval of the council. He or she has the power of veto over ordinances — the laws of the city — and frequently is responsible for preparing the city's budget. The council passes city laws, sets the tax rate on property, and divides money among the various city departments.

The Commission. This combines both the legislative and executive functions in one group of officials, usually three or more in number, elected city-wide. Each commissioner supervises the work of one or more city departments. One is named chairperson of the body and is often called the mayor, although his or her power is equivalent to that of the other commissioners.

Council-Manager. The city manager [городской управляющий] is a response to the increasing complexity of urban problems, which require management skills not often possessed by elected public officials. The answer has been to delegate most of the executive powers, including law enforcement [обеспечение правопорядка; деятельность правоохранительных органов] and provision of services, to a highly trained and experienced professional city manager.

The city manager plan has been adopted by a growing number of cities. Under this plan, a small, elected council makes the city ordinances and sets policy, but hires a paid administrator, also called a city manager, to carry out its decisions. The manager draws up the city budget [подготовить бюджет] and supervises most of the departments. Usually, there is no set term; the manager serves as long as the council is satisfied with his or her work.

County government [органы самоуправления округа]

The county is a subdivision of the state, sometimes — but not always — containing two or more townships [поселок, городок, селение, населенный пункт] and several villages. New York City is so large that it is divided into five separate boroughs [один из пяти районов Нью-Йорка административная единица Аляски].

In most U.S. counties, one town or city is designated as the county seat, and this is where the government offices are located and where the board of commissioners or supervisors meets. In small counties, boards are chosen by the county as a whole; in the larger ones, supervisors represent separate districts or townships. The board levies taxes; borrows and appropriates money; fixes the salaries of county employees; supervises elections; builds and maintains highways and bridges; and administers national, state, and county welfare programs. In some New England states, counties do not have any governmental function and are simply a division of land.

Town and village government

Thousands of municipal [[mju'nisipl] городской, муниципальный] jurisdictions are too small to qualify as city governments. These are chartered as towns and villages and deal with such strictly local needs as paving and lighting the streets; ensuring a water supply; providing police and fire protection; establishing local health regulations; arranging for garbage, sewage, and other waste disposal; collecting local taxes to support governmental operations; and, in cooperation with the state and county, directly administering the local school system.

The government is usually entrusted to an elected board or council, which may be known by a variety of names: town or village council, board of selectmen, board of supervisors, board of commissioners. The board may have a chairperson or president who functions as chief executive officer, or there may be an elected mayor. Governmental employees may include a clerk, treasurer, police and fire officers, and health and welfare officers.

One unique aspect of local government, found mostly in the New England [Новая Англия - Исторически сложившийся в начале XVII в. регион в северо-восточной части США] region of the United States, is the "town meeting." [городское собрание] Once a year — sometimes more often if needed — the registered voters of the town meet in open session [открытое заседание] to elect officers, debate local issues, and pass laws for operating the government. As a body, they decide on road construction and repair, construction of public buildings and facilities [оборудование, приспособления, аппаратура; здания (заводов, фирм и т. п.), средства обслуживания], tax rates, and the town budget. The town meeting, which has existed for more than two centuries, is often cited as the purest form of direct democracy, in which the governmental power is not delegated, but is exercised directly and regularly by all the people.

Other local governments

The federal, state, and local governments covered here do not include the whole spectrum of American governmental units. The U.S. Bureau of the Census [Бюро переписи населения Подразделение министерства торговли США [Department of Commerce], образованное в марте 1902. В функции Бюро входит проведение переписей населения [census] каждые 10 лет в соответствии с законодательством США. По закону вся собранная в ходе переписи населения информация, касающаяся частных лиц, семей и их собственности, должна сохраняться в тайне и использоваться лишь в статистических целях; статистическая информация общедоступна, в том числе в сети Интернет.] (part of the Commerce Department) has identified no less than 84,955 local governmental units in the United States, including counties, municipalities, townships, school districts [школьный округ (в США)], and special districts.

Americans have come to rely on their governments to perform a wide variety of tasks which, in the early days of the republic, people did for themselves. In colonial days, there were few police officers or firefighters, even in the large cities; governments provided neither street lights nor street cleaners. To a large extent, people protected their own property and saw to their families' needs.

In modern times, meeting these needs is usually seen as the responsibility of the whole community, acting through the agency of one or more levels of government. Even in small towns, the police, fire, welfare, and health department functions are exercised by governments.


Тексты на английском языке,
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и статьи по политологии

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  • Elections in the United Kingdom
  • Fall of The Soviet Union
  • Glossary of Political Terms
  • How British Parliament Works
  • How the European Union Works
  • How the Presidential Electoral System Works in Russia
  • How to Become a Politician?
  • Labor Day in the USA
  • Levels of Government in the USA
  • May Day - the Real Labor Day
  • Propaganda Techniques
  • Russian Revolution, October, 1917
  • US Electoral System
  • US Regions and States: How Do They Differ?
  • What Is a Political Myth?
  • What Is Democracy?
  • What is the Difference between a President and a Prime Minister?
  • What is the European Union?
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  • Послание Б. Обамы Конгрессу США 25 января 2011 г.
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