The Executive is the branch of government responsible for the implementation of laws and policies made by the legislature, the group of decision-makers who take overall responsibility for the direction and coordination of government policy. Executives are usually centred upon the leadership of one individual. This may be the Head of State (e.g. the President in the United States), or the Head of Government (Prime Minister in the UK), or, more occasionally, a combination of the two (such as the semi-presidentialism in France). As has long been noted, ‘because a parliamentary system links the legislature and the executive, the prime minister has greater potential influence upon the direction of government than a president subject to the checks and balances of an American-style constitution’ (Rose, 1991: 9). This potential, however, is generally circumscribed by a variety of formal institutional constraints, political circumstances and conventions, as well as the broader socioeconomic context within which the Prime Minister and government must operate.
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