Chapter 3 looked at governance, but in addition to looking at policy making, it concentrated on the changing architecture of the state and the non-elected people who help to run it, be they civil servants or judges. Now, we turn to governments – the representative part of the executive. The elected government in almost all European countries must enjoy ‘the confidence of parliament’, normally expressed in a vote when it takes office – a vote it has to win or, at the very least, not lose. Europe’s parliamentary governments are led by a prime minister and a group of colleagues, which political scientists call the cabinet (see Barbieri and Vercesi, 2013). The fact that cabinet members very often sit in, and in all cases are responsible to, parliament blurs the distinction between the executive and the legislature that constitute two parts of the classical three-part ‘separation of powers’ outlined in Chapter 3. This clear division of labour is considered sacrosanct by some Americans, yet its blurring in Europe does not seem to exercise many Europeans. Conversely, Americans see nothing strange in the head of state and the head of government being one and the same person – namely, the president. However, nearly all European countries, more or less successfully, keep the two functions separate.
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