executive authority

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In political science and constitutional law, the executive is the branch of government responsible for the day-to-day management of the state. In many countries, it is referred to simply as the government, but this usage can be confusing in an international context. The executive branch contains the head of government, who is the head of this branch. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, the executive is not supposed to make laws (role of the legislature), nor to interpret them (role of the judiciary): in practice, this separation is rarely absolute. The executive is identified by the Head of Government. In a presidential system, this person (the President) may also be the Head of State, whereas in a parliamentary system he or she is usually the leader of the largest party in the legislature and is most commonly termed the Prime Minister (Taoiseach in the Republic of Ireland, (Federal) Chancellor in Germany and Austria). In France, executive power is shared between the President and the Prime Minister and this system has been reproduced in a number of former French colonies, while Switzerland and Bosnia and Herzegovina likewise have collegiate systems for the role of Head of State and Government. The Head of Government is assisted by a number of ministers, who usually have responsibilities for particular areas (e.g. health, education, foreign affairs), and by a large number of government employees or civil servants.

Head of government

The head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government.

In parliamentary systems, the head of government is generally the Prime Minister, who usually heads a cabinet which must rely on the direct or indirect support of parliament. In essence, the Prime Minister is the leader of the largest elected party in a parliament. In Westminster Systems, like the United Kingdom, Canada or Australia, executive authority is nominally and theoretically vested in the Sovereign. However the Sovereign does not actively exercise executive powers, since this is performed by a Prime Minister and a Cabinet on her behalf.

Other countries have presidential systems, such in the United States of America. In Article II, Section 1, of the United States Constitution it is stated that, "The executive power shall be vested in a president of the United States of America." This makes the president the head of the executive branch of the federal government. To become president, a person must be at least thirty-five years old, a natural born American citizen, and a resident of the United States for at least fourteen years.

Semi-presidential systems may exist in some countries, and often have both a President and a Prime Minister. Such systems can be seen in countries such as France. However, the balance of power between the two heads of government may vary, and it is dependent on the country in question. Sri Lanka has witnessed a bitter power struggle between its President and Prime Minister, particularly due to a difference in political parties.

Role of the executive

The exact role of the executive depends on the constitution of the country. Not all of the following functions need be exercised by the central executive, particularly in federal countries: they may instead be exercised by local government (see below).

A good analogy is the owner - architect - contractor relationship. The Legislative branch acts as the architect to draw up the plans and specifications according to the wishes of the people who elected them (the owners), and exercises oversight to make sure the Executive Branch acts by its authority with its advice and consent. The Executive branch executes the instructions given it by the Legislature, but has no power to act on its own without instructions, because that would put it in the position of acting legislatively.

The Laws issued by the Legislature must be complied with exactly. It is the Presidents job to Preserve, protect and defend them while executing them faithfully and it's the Judiciary's job to act as competent administrators to see that all parties are in compliance with the Constitution.

The main function of the Executive Branch is to do what it is instructed to do by Legislation produced by the Legislative Branch: the Executive Branch collects taxes and customs duties as instructed by the Legislative Branch and uses the money appropriated by the Legislative Branch to pay the salaries of government employees and for other government expenditure. As instructed by the Legislative Branch, it assures the internal and external security of the state by maintaining a police force and armed forces when instructed to do so by the Legislative Branch according to its rules.

The Executive Branch acting by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Branch is also responsible for executing the regulating legislation drafted by the Legislative Branch to guide the many sectors of the economy, notably
  • the Military
  • the labor force (e.g. by enforcing labor laws)
  • agriculture
  • transportation
  • energy provision
  • housing and construction (e.g. by issuing building permits)
  • commerce in general (e.g. by enforcing minimum standards, and notably by issuing a currency)
The Executive Branch may provide health and education services: regulating these areas as instructed by the Legislative Branch and operate nationalized industries, and promote research and culture.

Relation to the legislature

While the legislature is responsible for approving the laws of a state, it does not usually, on its own, have the capacity to enforce them, notably in terms of employees and other infrastructure. The necessity to enforce a law if it is to be effective imposes a degree of cooperation between the legislature and the executive: the legislature may vote "free beer for all", but the executive would be in its role to ask "who pays the brewer?" In many countries the executive has the power to veto some or all types of legislation, or at least to delay their approval by insisting on a longer debate of the consequences.

Under the Westminster system, the Prime Minister and other ministers are members of the legislature, and in other parliamentary systems the executive is usually headed by the party or parties which control a majority in the legislature. This gives the executive some control over the legislation which is passed, but this control is rarely absolute in a democracy. In presidential systems, the executive and the legislature may be controlled by different political parties, a situation known as cohabitation: both sides must arrive at a compromise to allow the government to continue to function, although complete blockage is rare.

In general, the legislature has a supervisory role over the actions of the executive, and may replace the Head of Government and/or individual ministers by a vote of (no) confidence or a procedure of impeachment. On the other hand, a legislature which refuses to cooperate with the executive, for example by refusing to vote a budget or otherwise starving the executive of funds, may be dissolved by the Head of State, leading to new elections.

The legislature usually delegates some legislative power to the executive, notably to issue regulations or executive orders which complete a piece of legislation with technical details or points which might change frequently (e.g. fees for government services). The executive may also have powers to issue legislation during a state of emergency.

Relation to the judiciary

The Executive Branch acts by and with the advice and consent of the Legislation made by the Legislature and thus is subject to the Legislative Branch. (except in a dictatorship). The judiciary acts as a competent administrator to ensure compliance with the laws crafted by the Legislative Branch.

The laws which apply specifically to the executive are known as administrative law, although this should not be taken to imply that the executive is exempt from other laws such as human rights or the rules of war. The Executive Branch may be challenged in court for failure to comply with the decisions of the Legislative Branch. The idea of judicial review: is that the competent administrators in the judiciary have the responsibility to review compliance with Legislation wherever there is a party claiming injury. The Legislature Branch has the responsibility to supervise the execution of its laws and the compliance of the judiciary and the Executive branch with them.

The Legislature makes decisions and the Judiciary and the Executive Branch enforce its decisions with the help of the forces funded by the Legislature to enforce its laws (e.g. police force, prison service). The Legislative Branch is responsible for providing funding for courthouses, establishing and paying the salaries of judges: The Executive Branch is responsible for getting them built and staffed as instructed. The competent administration of the judicial system is the responsibility of the justice minister, also referred to as the attorney general.

The Legislative Branch makes laws and the Executive branch executes them as instructed. In the Department of Justice the Attorney General oversees the staff responsible for taking legal action in the public interest, for example enforcing Civil Rights, Public Safety, policing corporations, prosecuting them as any other criminal and protecting the interests of those who cannot defend themselves (e.g. children or the mentally handicapped). The authority to perform these functions is delegated by the legislature to be both the executive Branch and the judiciary as required. The executive is responsible for the day-to-day management after the Legislature decides to provid the necessary infrastructure and pay the necessary salaries.

Most countries have safeguards to protect the independence of the judiciary from the executive, such as the impossibility of the executive to dismiss a judge. Similar safeguards may apply to other categories of government employees, in order to allow them to conduct their functions without undue political pressure. In return, judges and government employees may be expected not to take part in active politics themselves. In the United States the Congress has all the power and the sole responsibility of removal by means of impeachment.

Local government

Individual states or provinces in a federal system have their own executives, legislatures and judiciaries in addition to the corresponding bodies at federal level. Even in non-federal systems, all but the smallest of countries have some form of local government, although legislative and (especially) judicial powers are often very limited. The distribution of executive powers between central and local government varies widely between different countries: for example, policing and education are local responsibilities in the United Kingdom but central responsibilities in France. An extreme example is Switzerland, where nationality, a central government responsibility in almost all other countries, is a matter for individual municipalities (albeit with federal minimum standards).

Local government may be funded through local taxes (often property taxes), through a grant from the central government or through a combination of the two. The head of the local executive of a municipality is usually known as the mayor; various terms exist for the head of the executive at other levels of local government. The local executive is usually supervised by an elected council, which is responsible for setting the rates of local taxes (where these exist, and often only to a limited extent) and for approving the budget of the local executive. The central government may also have a supervisory role, which may go as far as the power to dissolve the local government completely in exceptional cases.

As mentioned above, it is essential to consider the different roles of local (or State) government when comparing the roles of the executives in different countries: the provision of public education is an executive function whether it is provided by the central government (France), state governments (Germany), local education authorities (England and Wales) or school boards (United States).

Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. Although the term is generally applied to behavior within civil governments, politics is observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious
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Head of state or Chief of state is the generic term for the individual or collective office that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchic or republican nation-state, federation,
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A dictator is an autoritarian, often totalitarian ruler (e.g. absolutist or autocratic) who assumes sole power over his state, though the term is normally not applied to those who aquire such position by regular constitutional means, such as a hereditary absolute monarch,
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monarch (see sovereignty) is a type of ruler or head of state. Monarchs almost always inherit their titles and are rulers for life; that is, they have no term limit. Historically monarchs have been more or less absolute rulers.
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President is a title held by many leaders of organizations, companies, trade unions, universities, and countries. Etymologically, a "president" is one who presides , who sits in leadership (from Latin prae- "before" + sedere "to sit"; giving the term
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government is a body that has the power to make and the authority to enforce rules and laws within a civil, corporate, religious, academic, or other organization or group.[1]
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Head of Government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled Prime Minister, Premier, etc.
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Chancellor or chancellour (archaic) (Latin: cancellarius) is an official title used by most of the peoples whose civilization has arisen directly or indirectly out of the Roman Empire.
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A premier is a title for the head of government in some countries.

In many nations, the title "premier" is used interchangeably with "prime minister": for example, the "Italian Premier" is the same person as the "Italian President of the Council of Ministers".
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A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. The position is usually held by, but need not always be held by, a politician.
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cabinet is a body of high-ranking members of government, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council or an Executive Committee.
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A ministry is a department of a government, led by a minister. Ministries are usually subordinate to the cabinet, and prime minister, president or chancellor. A government will usually have numerous ministries, each with a specialised field of service.
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A minister or a secretary is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government.
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A presidential system, also called a congressional system, is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides (hence the term) separately from the legislature, to which it is not accountable and which cannot in normal circumstances dismiss it.
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The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a prime minister and a president are both active participants in the day-to-day administration of the state.
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red and orange—the former being constitutional monarchies where authority is vested in a parliament, and the latter being parliamentary republics whose parliaments are effectively supreme over a separate head of state.
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Cohabitation in government occurs in semi-presidential systems, such as France's system, when the President is from a different political party than the majority of the members of parliament.
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Westminster system is a democratic, parliamentary system of government modelled after that of the United Kingdom system, as used in the Palace of Westminster, the location of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The system is a series of procedures for operating a legislature.
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This is a list of current heads of state and government, showing heads of state and heads of government where different, mainly in parliamentary systems; it should be noted that often a leader is both in presidential systems or dictatorships.
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1 In Commonwealth Realms other than the UK, the Governor-General represents Queen Elizabeth II who is the official head of state.
2 Kim Jong-il, as Chairman of the National Defense Commission is considered North Korea's "highest administrative
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A governor or governour (archaic) is a governing official, usually the executive (at least nominally, to different degrees also politically and administratively) of a non-sovereign level of government, ranking under the Head of state.
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A mayor (from the Latin māior, meaning "larger", "greater") is the modern title of the highest ranking municipal officer.

In many systems, the mayor is an elected politician who serves as chief executive and/or ceremonial official of many types of
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Political science is a branch of social science concerned with theory, description, analysis and prediction of political behavior, political systems and politics broadly-construed.
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Constitutional law is the study of foundational or basic laws of nation states and other political organizations. Constitutions are the framework for government and may limit or define the authority and procedure of political bodies to execute new laws and regulations.
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A state is a political association with effective dominion over a geographic area. It usually includes the set of institutions that claim the authority to make the rules that govern the people of the society in that territory, though its status as a state often depends in part on
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Head of Government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled Prime Minister, Premier, etc.
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Separation of powers is a term coined by French political Enlightenment thinker Baron de Montesquieu[1][2], is a model for the governance of democratic states. The model is also known as Trias Politica.
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A legislature is a type of representative deliberative assembly with the power to adopt laws.

Legislatures are known by many names, the most common being parliament and congress, although these terms also have more specific meanings.
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In the law, the judiciary or judicial system is the system of courts which administer justice in the name of the sovereign or state, a mechanism for the resolution of disputes.
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Head of Government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled Prime Minister, Premier, etc.
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