The Executive | Definition | Functions | Types of Executive

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The Executive | Definition | Functions | Types of Executive

The Executive | Definition | Functions | Types of Executive

Definition of the Executive

The executive is the branch of government which carries out the will of the state. It enforces the laws made by the legislature and carries out court decisions and also takes action on matters which are not covered by the law.

It assumes this role because it is not possible for the legislature to make laws on every issue relevant to the life of the people. At the centre of every government, therefore, is the executive.

That is why it is sometimes called “the government” in Britain or “the administration” in the United States of America. The executive is therefore the branch of government that drives the affairs of the state.

Functions of the Executive

  • Policy formulation: Policy formulation is one of the major functions of the executive.
  • Supervision: The executive supervises the administrative functions and directs the execution of laws made in the state.
  • Appointment of top officials: The executive has the power to appoint and remove top officials of the state from government.
  • Declaration of war: It can declare war, maintain peace and fight back foreign invasion.
  • Representation: It represents the state in its relations with other countries.
  • Power of pardon: It pardons those that have offended the state.
  • Initiation of bills: The executive initiates bills defends them and makes recommendations on the bill.
  • Budgeting: It prepares and delivers the annual income and expenditure of the state.
  • Maintenance of law and order: The law enforcement agent – the police are responsible for this function.
  • Signing of bills into law: For a bill to become a law, the president has to sign it.
  • Laws: It enacts laws to promote good governance.
  • Rights of Citizens: Government guarantees the fundamental human rights of its citizens.
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Types Of Executive

There are two main types of executive, namely, the presidential and parliamentary executives. These two types of executive have been discussed exhaustively in our previous articles and they need not detain us here again.

Suffice it to say, however, that the presidential type is also called the single executive because the president combines the functions of both the Head of State and Head of Government.

On the other hand, the Parliamentary executive is sometimes referred to as the dual executive because it is an executive in which there are two different occupants of the offices of the Head of State and Head of Government.

Composition Of The Executive

The presidential executive usually comprises the president and his cabinet. The president appoints his ministers who constitute the cabinet. He has a lot of discretion in choosing his ministers and advisers.

In the United States, about 15 percent of the ministers were chosen from the Congress between 1914 and 1963, a fall from 37 percent in 1861 to 1896. The president also has Special Advisers and Special Assistants who assist him in the implementation of his programmes.

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In the cabinet system, the executive comprises the prime minister, and the monarch or president who is usually appointed by the legislature. The prime minister is the head of government and he is elected in the same way as any other member of parliament.

He is the leader of the party with majority in parliament. He selects his ministers from parliament.

The ministers, in both executives, head the government ministries and departments. The ministries assist the government in the execution of its policies. Each ministry has a set of public corporations and extraministerial departments, which are established to provide one social service or the other.

The military (Army, Navy, and Air Force), the Police, Prison, Customs, Immigration, etc are also part of the executive. They assist in maintaining law and order and in the enforcement of laws.


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