Of the three organs of government the executive branch is growing in importance and prestige. In common parlance the government is synonymous with its executive branch. In reality, executive is that branch of government which executes or carries out the laws made by the legislature and the decisions awarded by the judiciary.
It is the operative or implementing part of the governmental machinery. Garner defines the executive as “that branch of government which executes enforces and carries out the state will as expressed by the legislature, constitution and judicial decisions.” Elaborating the meaning of the executive, Gamer further explains: “In a broad and collective sense the executive organ embraces the aggregate and totality of the will of the state as that will has been formulated and expressed in terms of law.”
The executive branch includes the chief executive, the ministers and the entire body of civil servants or governmental officials of all categories. The chief executive may be a President who enjoys nominal powers or he may be exercising real powers like the American President.
No state can exist without the executive. If the executive breaks down, the government disappears. The modern executive is very powerful in comparison to the other two organs of the government. The main function of the executive is to enforce the will of the people as expressed in laws, to administer policies and to enforce the decisions of the judiciary.
The executive is growing in importance as it provides leadership to the government. With the ever widening sphere of its activities, the executive has naturally become the most important branch of government. Formally, supremacy may rest with the legislature but in practice, it is the executive which is all important.
The executive consists of three elements. These are: (a) Head of State, (b) Council of Ministers, and (c) Civil Servants.
(a) Head of State:
The head of state is the highest authority of the executive. But he is recruited in different ways. In some countries like Britain, Japan and Thailand, the head of state succeeds to throne on the basis of heredity. The administration is run in his name, although he does not enjoy real power.
The King / Queen are guided by the advice of council of ministers. Though it is a conservative system, it helps in increasing the unity, honour and dignity of state.
In most other states, the head of state is elected directly or indirectly. The President of India is indirectly elected. He is just a formal head; he does not enjoy real powers, contrast, the President of America is directly elected by people, and enjoys real p He is both head of state, and head of government.
In some states the head of state is nominated. For example, the heads of state of C Australia and New Zealand are formally nominated to their office by the British King Queen. However, in practice, the persons, nominated by their respective cabinets, are appointed as head of their state by the British King or Queen.
(b) Council of Ministers:
The role of council of ministers is very import parliamentary democracies. The head of a state is a formal head, but real powers exercised by the council of ministers. In parliamentary democracies like Britain, C Australia and India, the Prime Minister who heads the council of minister is the real of government.
But in presidential democracies like America, France and Sri Lanka, the Preside both head of state, and head of government. He forms a council of ministers consisting some competent persons who act as his subordinates.
In Switzerland, there is an executive council which is called the Federal Council consists of seven members, and all of them have equal powers. They are elected by houses of the Federal Assembly. One of them is elected for one year as the head of state. This council is an example of collective or plural executive.
(c) Civil Servants:
Both in presidential democracy and parliamentary democracy there are large number of civil servants appointed to help the President or Council of Ministers, respectively run the administration. They remain loyal to the government above party politics.
They function in an impartial manner. The success of administration depends on their sincerity, dedication and efficiency. They retire from government se after the expiry of their tenure. Therefore, they are known as ‘permanent executive’.