We find five different kinds of executives: (1) Real and Nominal; (2) Single plural; (3) Hereditary, Elected and Nominated; (4) Political and Permanent; and Parliamentary and Non-Parliamentary. Each type needs some elaboration.
1. Real and Nominal Executives:
In a parliamentary form of government, a definite distinction is made between the nominal and real executive. The chief executive or of the state may be hereditary monarch as the British King or Queen, or an elected President as in India, but he exercises only nominal powers. Legally he possesses all powers the constitution, but in practice he exercises none of them.
His position is titular. He serves as an emblem of national unity. He may at the most use his influence. The real executive power is enjoyed by the cabinet or the Council of Ministers. The real executive and titular executive are combined in a single office of the President in a presidential form government, as in the U. S. A.
2. Single and Plural:
Single executive is that in which executive authority is vested in one person. The President of the USA provides the best example of this type.
Council of Ministers or Cabinet in a parliamentary form of government falls under this category as it works like a team under the leadership of the Prime Minister. Where the executive authority is vested in a group of persons who share such authority it is known as plural or collective executive. The Federal Council of Switzerland consisting of seven members provides the best example of such executive. Almost all states have single executive except a few.
Single and plural executives have their respective merits and demerits. Single executive is prompt, vigorous and more powerful as authority is not divided. It works unitedly with singleness of purpose. It ensures complete secrecy. However, it may lead to abuse of power and corruption.
The merits of plural executive are: It is a check upon the abuse of power and it thwarts the possibility of dictatorship. It may bring to the state a higher degree of ability. Its demerits are: It lacks promptness of decision and singleness of purpose. It is weak due to division of responsibility.
3. Hereditary, Elected and Nominated:
The executive is hereditary when its power is vested in a person according to hereditary principle. This type of executive is found in United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Japan and Nepal.
The executive is called elective when the head of the state is elected directly or indirectly. The chief executives of South American Republics like Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, Brazil and Peru are elected directly by the people. The President of the USA and that of India are elected by electoral colleges. In some cantons of Switzerland the executive is elected by the legislature.
Certain executives are nominated. The Viceroys and Governor Generals in British India were nominated by the British government.
4. Political and Permanent Executives:
The executive offices to which politicians are elected or appointed constitute the political executive. The chief executive and the ministers form this executive. The civil servants of all types, who are appointed through recruitment, are known as nonpolitical, permanent or ‘career’ executive.
They continue in office usually till retirement. They remain politically neutral and possess expert knowledge in administration. They advise and assist the political executive. The political executive formulates policy, while the bureaucracy administers policies.
5. Parliamentary and Non-Parliamentary:
Executive can be classified into parliamentary and non-parliamentary on the basis of the relation between the real executive and the legislature. In a parliamentary executive, the members of the executive are the members of the legislature.
The executive is responsible to the legislature for its acts. It remains in office so long as it commands the confidence of the legislature. The parliamentary executive is also known as the cabinet or responsible executive. U. K, India, Australia, Canada provide examples of parliamentary executive.
In a non-parliamentary or presidential executive, the executive is constitutionally independent of the legislature. It is not responsible to the legislature. It is found in the U.S.A (America), France, Sri Lanka etc.