To What Extent Do Cabinets Play A Role in The political executive?
A cabinet is delineated as a committee of senior ministers who represent the different government departments or ministers. Most political executives have some form of cabinet. However, the nature of the role of cabinet is dependant on the country it is featured in and the nature of that countries political system. All cabinets though, serve two principal functions: they allow government to display a collective front to legislatures and the electorate, so preventing the image that government is in the hands of one person. Secondly, they act as an administrative instrument to secure effective co-ordination of the bureaucracy, who is charged with the implementation of government policy. A country without a cabinet is likely to be made up of opposing bureaucratic empires aiming on increasing their own wealth, this happened in the Hitler state of Nazi Germany.
In presidential systems such as the USA’s, the cabinet acts as device for policy advice as opposed to policy formulation. In the second part of the twentieth century, the American executive has increased in size though not at a cabinet level, there has been an increase in size of the Executive Office of the President. It is interesting to note that cabinet is at the apex of countries that regard with high esteem the notion of cabinet government, these countries include, Great Britain, Italy, Sweden, Norway and numerous Commonwealth states.
In the USSR, a type of collective leadership was in place, this was a mirror of the Marxist-Leninist notion. In reality communist party leaders, for example, Stalin, were so autocratic, they wielded such hegemony over the Politburo and its equivalent state body, the Presidium of the council of ministers that leaders stayed in power till they died.Throughout Europe and particularly in Germany, ministers are increasingly discouraged from perceiving themselves as part of a collective corpus due to departmental specialisation, so exacerbating this tendency to prime ministerial government. Even in Great Britain, which is considered as a conventional symbol for cabinet government this is occurring, it is hard to look on cabinet as even a decision-making forum let alone a democratic arena. The growing emergence of prime-ministerial power has not only deposited the collective form of UK government, the increase in the scope and complexity of government policy has too contributed, most decisions as a consequence are made elsewhere and reach cabinet in a prepared nature. Cabinets are further weakened in their role in Britain and elsewhere by a cabinet system since it consolidates the levers of control at the prime ministers’ disposal.
Some commentators would remark the paragraph above paints an overly gloomy picture of cabinets’ role in the political system. Numerous prime ministers, for instance, have suffered by not operating through a collective nature. German chancellors are generally viewed as being stronger than UK prime ministers, since they can only be removed by a vote of ‘constructive no confidence’. As a result Bundestag can only deposit a government by giving it to an alternative one, unlike Britain where the withdrawal of proponents would mean this.
Margaret Thatcher’s resignation in 1990 and Bob Hawke’s loss of leadership, (the Australian prime minister), are brilliant remainders that the chief executives cannot survive without sanction from cabinet.