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The U.S. is the oldest continuous democracy in the world It was established in ?


The U.S. is a Federal system = the power is divided between a central /national government and the States

The central government = Federal government

Federal government

Consists of three branches:



The legislative branch the Congress

Has two chambers:

The House of Representatives The Senate

U.S.Congress on Capitol Hill

The House of Representatives

435 members The states have representation according to the size of their population (e.g. Wyoming the smallest state 1, Delaware 2, California 52) Representatives elected for two-year terms

The Senate (the Upper House)

100 Senators (two from each state equal representation) Elected for six-year terms Each of the two Senators representing a state is elected at another time Every two years only 1/3 of Senators is elected

Legislative process

Can start in either of the two Houses The Representatives or Senators introduce proposals for laws Laws must be passed by both Houses Proposals = bills Passed bills = laws

The executive branch

Represented by: The President The Cabinet

The Federal Departments and Agencies

The White House

The Presidents Oval Office

The President
His office is more powerful and prestigious than e.g. That of a French, German or Czech President He has more influence on foreign policy than the Secretary of State He is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces (limited by War Powers Act 1973) He can serve a maximum of two fouryear terms (established in 1951)

How the President is elected

He is elected by the Electoral College (not directly, although the first stage is direct) Most states: A winner-take-all system = the candidate who wins majority of votes wins all of that states allocated electoral votes E.g. Wyoming is given 3 electoral votes = the winner in this state gets 3 votes (3 votes in according to the number of Senators 2 and Representatives 1)

Different system in Nebrasca and Maine: Nebrasca 2 Senators, 3 Representatives - the winner automatically gets only 2 votes - The left 3 votes are allocated in accordance with how the candidate succeeds in component Congressional Districts (there are 3 of them in Nebrasca)

E.g. 2008: winner Mc Cain 2 votes + he won in 2 Districts = altogether he won 4 votes Obama was the winner in one District = he was given 1 vote

In Maine nearly the same: 2 votes automatically + 2 depending on how successful the candidate is in the component Congressional Districts (there are only two Districts)

Altogether there are 538 votes and the winner must gain at least 270 votes (quorum) to become the President

Try to guess how many votes Barack Obama was given

365 !

Is there a way how to dismiss the President his office?

By a formal process called Impeachment The word "impeachment" derives from Latin roots expressing the idea of becoming caught Article One of the United States Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments. Impeachment does not necessarily result in removal from office - Impeachment is only the first of two stages, and conviction requires a twothirds vote

The judicial branch

Consists of the Supreme Court with nine judges, called justices They are appointed for life by the President and confirmed by the Senate The Court interprets the Constitution If it says that a law is unconstitutional, the law cannot become valid, unless an amendment is added to the Constitution a complicated process, which has succeeded only 27 times in more than 200 years