A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime minister is the presiding member and chairman of the cabinet. In a minority of systems, notably in semi-presidential systems of government, a prime minister is the official who is appointed to manage the civil service and execute the directives of the head of state.
In parliamentary systems fashioned after the Westminster system, the prime minister is the presiding and actual head of the government and head of the executive branch. In such systems, the head of state or the head of state's official representative (i.e. the monarch, president, or governor-general) usually holds a largely ceremonial position, although often with reserve powers.
The prime minister is often, but not always, a member of parliament and is expected with other ministers to ensure the passage of bills through the legislature. In some monarchies the monarch may also exercise executive powers (known as the royal prerogative) which are constitutionally vested in the crown and may be exercised without the approval of parliament.
As well as being head of government, a prime minister may have other roles or titles—the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, for example, is also First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service. Prime ministers may take other ministerial posts—for example during the Second World War, Winston Churchill was also Minister of Defence (although there was then no Ministry of Defence).
Read more about Prime Minister: Etymology, History, Prime Ministers in Republics and In Monarchies, Entry Into Office, Prime Ministers and Constitutions, Exit From Office, Titles, Description of The Role, Lists of Prime Ministers
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“The Prime Minister has an absolute genius for putting flamboyant labels on empty luggage.”
—Aneurin Bevan (18971960)