Political Executive


  • Political executive is that organ which is responsible for implementing, enforcing or executing the laws or acts passed by the Parliament.
  • In most of Parliamentary Democracies, the executive is formed by the political party that wins the elections.
  • In Parliamentary democracies, the executive is also part of the Parliament and accountable to it.
  • Executive is popularly called as “The government”.

Political and Permanent Executive

  • Political executive includes the political leaders who are elected by the people in the elections. They are the ministers. The Permanent executive includes the civil service officials who assist the political executive in their functions.
  • Political executive is elected by people and therefore cannot enjoy power permanently throughout their career. They also have a fixed tenure. But permanent executive remains in power even when the political leaders change, because they are selected through merit.
  • Permanent executive like civil servants work under the Political executive.
  • Political executive represents the will of the people and directly elected by the people. But permanent executive is selected through competitive exams and therefore are not related to the will of the people.
  • Permanent executive is often more expert and knowledgeable than political leaders as they are selected through merit. Whereas merit is not a requirement for political leaders.

Prime minister

  • Prime minister is the head of the government and the most important institution of any parliamentary form of government.
  • The Prime Minister is appointed by the President. The President appoints the leader of the party or coalitions of the parties which win a majority in the general elections of the country.
  • If no party or coalitions get a majority, then the President can appoint the leader of the largest party or coalitions in terms of votes in the elections.
  • The Prime Minister does not have a fixed tenure. He continues in power so long as he remains the leader of the majority party or coalition.
  • After the appointment of the Prime Minister, the President appoints other ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is free to choose ministers, as long as they are members of Parliament.

Council of Ministers

Council of Ministers is the official name for the body that includes all the Ministers. It consists of three types of ministers:

  • Cabinet Ministers are usually top-level leaders of the ruling party or parties who are in charge of the major ministries.
  • Usually the Cabinet Ministers meet to take decisions in the name of the Council of Ministers.
  • Cabinet is thus the inner ring of the Council of Ministers. It comprises about 20 ministers.
  • Ministers of State with independent charge are usually in-charge of smaller Ministries. They participate in the Cabinet meetings only when specially invited.
  • Ministers of State are attached to and required to assist Cabinet Ministers.
  • Parliamentary democracy is also called Cabinet form of government because most of the executive decisions are taken in cabinet meetings attended by top cabinet ministers.
  • No minister can openly criticize any decision of the government.
  • Every ministry has secretaries, who are civil servants. The secretaries provide the necessary background information to the ministers to take decisions.
  • The Cabinet as a team is assisted by the Cabinet Secretariat.

Power of the Prime Minister

  • He chairs Cabinet meetings. He coordinates the work of different Departments. He exercises general supervision of different ministries.
  • All ministers work under his leadership. The Prime Minister distributes and redistributes work to the ministers. He also has the power to dismiss ministers.
  • As political parties have come to play a major role in politics, the Prime Minister controls the Cabinet and Parliament through the party.
  • The powers of the Prime Minister in all parliamentary democracies of the world have increased so much in recent decades that parliamentary democracies are sometimes seen as Prime Ministerial form of government.
  • In recent years the rise of coalition politics has imposed certain constraints on the power of the Prime Minister.
  • The Prime Minister of a coalition government cannot take decisions as he likes. He has to accommodate different groups and factions in his party as well as among alliance partners.

The President

  • The President is the head of the State.
  • In parliamentary democracy, the President is regarded as the nominal head as he enjoys only nominal power and real power is enjoyed by the Prime Minister. His functions are mostly ceremonial.
  • In parliamentary democracy, the President is not elected directly by the people. In India, Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of State Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) elect the President.
  • A candidate standing for President’s post has to get a majority of votes to win the election.

Powers of the President

  • All governmental activities take place in the name of the President. All laws and major policy decisions of the government are issued in the name of the President.
  • All major appointments are made in the name of the President, including the Chief Justice of India, the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts of the states, the Governors of the states, the Election Commissioners etc.
  • All international treaties and agreements are made in the name of the President.
  • The President is the supreme commander of the defense forces of India.

Limitations on the power of the President

  • Since the President is the nominal head, the President exercises the powers only on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
  • The President can ask the Council of Ministers to reconsider its advice. But if the same advice is given again, the President is bound to act according to it.
  • A bill passed by the Parliament becomes a law only after the President gives assent to it. If the President wants, it can be delayed for some time and send the bill back to the Parliament for reconsideration.
  • But if the Parliament passes the bill again, the President has to sign it.
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