Politics in Minutes (2016)
Laws and legislation
In power, a government puts its policies into practice through a system of legislation, making laws concerning taxation and expenditure, but also laws protecting the property, rights and freedoms of citizens. Many of these may already be laid down in a constitution or bill of rights, but through additional laws – and repealing or amendment of existing ones – a government can shape society to reflect its own philosophy.
Broadly speaking, governments can take either an authoritarian or a libertarian approach to law-making, prescribing codes of conduct or allowing a choice of lifestyle. This is most apparent in what is considered to be criminal behaviour – the things that are perceived as harmful to people’s property, safety or moral welfare – and how people breaking these laws are punished. But governments can also exert influence through civil laws, those concerning such things as contracts and disputes, and the granting or removing of civil liberties.