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. 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.

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