::Head of government


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The heads of government of five members of the Commonwealth of Nations at the 1944 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. From left to right, Mackenzie King (Canada), Jan Smuts (South Africa), Winston Churchill (United Kingdom), Peter Fraser (New Zealand), and John Curtin (Australia).

Head of government is a generic term used for either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony who often presides over a cabinet. The term "head of government" is often used differentiating it from the term "head of state", e.g. as in article 7 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, article 1 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents and the United Nations protocol list.<ref name="unprotocol">HEADS OF STATE, HEADS OF GOVERNMENT, MINISTERS FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Protocol and Liaison Service, United Nations (2012-10-19). Retrieved on 2013-07-29.</ref><ref>Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969, International Law Commission, United Nations. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.</ref><ref>Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents 1973, International Law Commission, United Nations. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.</ref> The authority of a head of government, and the relationship between that position and other state institutions (such as a head of state and legislature) varies greatly among sovereign states, depending largely on the particular constitutional model chosen.

  • In a parliamentary system, the head of government is the de facto political leader of the state, and is answerable to the legislature (or only one chamber of it). Although there is often formal reporting relationship to a head of state, the latter usually acts as a figurehead who may only act as a chief executive, on limited occasions, either when receiving constitutional advice from the head of government or under specific provisions in a constitution.
  • In presidential republics or absolute monarchies; the head of state generally is also the head of government. The relationship between such a head of state and government and the other branches of the state varies, ranging from separation of powers to autocracy, according to the constitution (or other basic laws) of the particular state.
  • In semi-presidential systems, the head of government may answer to both the head of state and the legislature, with the specifics provided by each constitution. A prominent example is the French Fifth Republic (1958–present), where the President appoints the Prime Minister, but must choose someone who can get government business done, and enjoy support, in the National Assembly. When the opposition controls the National Assembly (and thus state funding and primary legislation), the President is in effect forced to choose a Prime Minister from the opposition party. In such cases, known as cohabitation, the Prime Minister (with the cabinet) controls domestic policy, with the President's influence largely restricted to foreign affairs.

Head of government sections
Intro  Titles of respective heads of government  Parliamentary heads of government  Official residence  Statistics  See also  Sources and references  

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