Constitutions and Constitutional Trends since World War II: An Examination of Significant Aspects of Postwar Public Law with Particular Reference to the New Constitutions of Western Europe

By Arnold J. Zurcher | Go to book overview

5 Stabilization of the Cabinet System in Western Europe>

By Joseph Dunner GRINNELL COLLEGE

T HE cabinet system of government is usually defined as that form of government in which the cabinet, as the "real" executive, is legally responsible to the legislature for policies and administration. The tenure of the members of the cabinet depends upon the legislature. If major policies or administrative acts of the cabinet are disapproved by the legislature, the ministers must resign or dissolve the legislature and stake their continuance in office on the outcome of a new general election. The members of the cabinet are customarily members of the legislature. In fact, they represent the leading core of either the majority party or a coalition of parties forming a majority in the legislature. As parliamentarians, they serve as a sort of steering committee in the legislature. As members of the executive branch, they serve as heads of the various administrative departments. In contrast to the presidential type of government, in which the president as the "real" executive is independent of the legislature in regard to his tenure and, to a considerable degree, his policies and acts, cabinet government, in the persons of the cabinet ministers, emphasizes the interdependence of legislative and executive functions.

The cabinet system of government originated in England as an outgrowth of the Privy Council of the King. While the members of the British Cabinet are at once the working executive, the guiding agency in legislation, and the leaders of the majority party inside and outside of Parliament, this concentration of responsibility

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