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"To what extent have west European prime ministers full control of their cabinets? Discuss with reference to at least Three European states?"

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Introduction

"To what extent have west European prime ministers full control of their cabinets? Discuss with reference to at least Three European states?" 'The cabinet is a board of control chosen by the legislature, out of persons whom it trusts and knows, to rule the nation.' (Bagehot, 1963:66-7) There are many frameworks of executive branch power relations: monocratic, collective, ministerial, shared and segmented government. However, our main concern here will be with the first two types of government since those two are the most applicable to the western democracies. The monocratic government means having and exercising complete political power and control by one person such as the prime minister or the president. Certain criteria need to be fulfilled in order to form a monocratic government. These conditions were mentioned in Donleavy and Rhodes - " a generalised ability [by the president or by prime minister] to decide policy across all issue areas in which she or he takes an interest; by deciding key issues which subsequently determining most remaining areas of government policy; or by defining a government "ethos" "atmosphere" or operating ideology...."1 In the collective government, no one person is in control of decision making-all the decisions are made collectively and not individually. Donleavy suggested that the ministerial government is when the "individual ministers by virtue of their positions as the political heads of the major departments of state, are able to have a significant impact on policy in areas that fall under their jurisdictions."2 Another model is segmented government and shared government - these are types of mixed government in which the decisions making is shared between two or three individuals and power is also shared across all the whole government. ...read more.

Middle

A Prime Minister typically has the formal power to hire and fire cabinet ministers."10 It is obvious as a leader of the cabinet and the party he or she has the absolute power which there is no institution can judge her or his decision in appointing and dismiss the cabinet ministers or any person in their group. Finally, being the Prime Minister means that every single aspect in the politics of his own government can be accessed, a very great power-. Indeed the powers of the Prime Minister within the British political structure have developed in recent years to such an extent that some political analysts now refer to Britain as having a Prime Ministerial government rather than a Cabinet government. The Prime Minister selects his own Cabinet and tends to select those people who have loyalty to him. Cabinet members who "failure to perform" can be removed from the Cabinet by the Prime Minister or 'reshuffled' to another position. Any senior Cabinet position brings with it certain perks and it is claimed that this tends to breeds loyalty. Some claim that by doing this, the Prime Minister surrounds himself with people who rarely get involved in serious discussions at Cabinet meetings. Senior positions within the Civil Service are appointed by the Prime Minister; it is likely that those who aspire to be senior civil servants will do little to tarnish their reputation with regards to their relationship to the Prime Minister. Blair has been accused of using a small group of people to discuss policy matters -and also of having a compliant Cabinet. Therefore, when it comes to the Cabinet to discuss already discussed policy issues, some political analysts argue, that the policy will be passed but the process of Cabinet discussion will have taken place. ...read more.

Conclusion

The prime minister's role as part of a dual executive seems to be forever evolving, and although not granted the same powers as the prime ministers of Germany and the UK, the position of the president in France has become more ceremonial, leaving the leader of government to take control of domestic policy and parliamentary affairs. Western prime ministers do not have full control over their cabinets, as this was never the intention of Western democracy. To have complete control implies, a form of political dictatorship where debate, and opinion would be restricted. The role of the prime minister is quite clearly defined for example in the British case- the P.M is the leader of his party in the House of Commons ,the head of government , has the right to select his cabinet, hand out departmental positions, decide the agenda for cabinet meetings which he also chairs, he can dismiss ministers if this is required he directs and controls policy for the government ,he is the chief spokesman for the government ,he keeps the Queen informed of government decisions ,he exercises wide powers of patronage and appointments in the civil service, church and judiciary he can amalgamate or split government departments ,he represents the country abroad ,he decides the date for a general election within the five-year term and he decides the timetable of government legislation in the House. These considerable powers seem to have been on the increase in recent times, as we have noted Tony Blair has been accused of becoming too powerful in his actions, however keep in mind that the extent of prime ministerial control is governed by a Democratic Constitution, the Cabinet, the Parliament, the media, party pressure, the civil-service, and above all a public opinion. ...read more.

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