Cabinets in Western Europe by Jean Blondel, Ferdinand Müller-Rommel

By Jean Blondel, Ferdinand Müller-Rommel

A presentation of the constitution and workings of the nationwide cupboards in Western ecu international locations this present day, in line with a standard framework which allows the reader to check their origins, constitution, composition and actions. Emphasis is put on the management and at the personality of coalitions.

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It is these constitutional constraints, rather than the theory of parliamentary answerability or practice of opposition politics, which have curtailed any unbridled exercise of executive power Size and membership of cabinet For twenty years after the foundation of the Irish Free State the cabinet was usually limited to ten members. The number gradually expanded after the mid-l 940s, but it was not until 1973 that the full cabinet membership of fifteen was achieved. It has been maintained ever since.

Where issues involve wider discussion one technique is to 'collect the voices' by going around the table and working out who is for and who is against a proposal (Heath, 1976). The cabinet agenda is drawn up by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Secretary to the Cabinet. Two items are usually on the agenda of each cabinet - a report on forthcoming parliamentary business and a report on foreign affairs. Matters for inclusion on the agenda can be Martin Burch 23 originated by the Prime Minister or at the request of a minister.

The extent to which this takes place varies from administration to administration. When it comes to taking initiatives the modern Prime Minister is assisted by a small political and personal advisory staff of about fifteen people induding, since 1974, a Policy Unit of specialist, party appointees. The exact way in which a particular cabinet works depends very much upon the style of leadership developed by the Prime Minister. A major distinction can be drawn between the Chairman and Leader styles of conducting business.

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