Understanding Us/Uk Government and Politics: A Comparative Guide

By Duncan Watts | Go to book overview

4
Executives

The executive branch literally refers to those persons who are charged with
responsibility for the administration of government and the implementation of
laws made by the legislature. Technically, it includes the head of state, members
of the government and the officials who serve them, as well as the enforcement
agencies such as the military and the police. However, more usually the term is
used to denote the smaller body of decision-makers which actually takes respon-
sibility for the direction and form of government policy. Indeed, we use the term

Political Executive when referring to the government of the day, and the Official
Executive when we are speaking of the bureaucracy whose task it is to administer
the policies which ministers have laid down
.

In the first section of the chapter we are concerned with the Political Executive,
in other words with the politicians rather than the civil servants. Who gets to the
top? What power do they exercise? Why is that power often said to be growing?
Who is more powerful, Prime Minister or President?

In the second section, we briefly review the Official Executive, examining who we
can include within the ranks of the bureaucracy, how they got there and the power
they exercise
.


POINTS TO CONSIDER
Distinguish between the Political and the Official Executive.
What factors led to the broad trend to increased prime ministerial and presidential power in the twentieth century?
What factors constrain the Prime Minister and President today?
To what extent are they prevented from achieving their political goals?
What qualities is it desirable for political leaders to possess in the television age?
Is the personality of a leader today more important than his or her ideology?
Compare the importance of the Cabinet in Britain and the United States.

-66-

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Understanding Us/Uk Government and Politics: A Comparative Guide
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • The Politics Association viii
  • Political Leaders of the Post-1945 Era ix
  • 1: The Context of Political Life in Britain and the United States 1
  • 2: Constitutions 26
  • 3: Protecting Liberties, Advancing Rights 46
  • 4: Executives 66
  • 5: Legislatures 106
  • 6: Judiciaries 139
  • 7: Governance Beyond the Centre 155
  • 8: Political Parties 178
  • 9: Pressure Groups 219
  • 10: The Mass Media 243
  • 11: Voting and Elections 269
  • 12: Democracy in Theory and Practice 305
  • Index 329
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