What Are the Powers and Limitations on the Prime Minister? Do They Lead to “Pr Ministerial Government”?

Topics: Separation of powers, Presidential system, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Pages: 6 (1995 words) Published: November 19, 2008
A Prime Minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. The Prime Minister of any government has different powers and limitations when it comes to governing any body of people. In both Barbados and Britain, the Prime Minister who governs their society has specific powers and limitations by which they abide. Sometimes these powers and limitations may or may not lead to Prime Ministerial Government. In the Caribbean, the prime minister has greater dominance over the executive than in Britain. The Prime Minister Barbados is generally more powerful in relation to the executive or Cabinet than the prime minister of Britain in relation to that executive or Cabinet (Munroe, 2002). Barbados has a parliamentary system of government patterned on that of Britain meaning that Barbados is a parliamentary democracy modeled on the British system.

Barbados like the United States and unlike Britain has a written constitution. This means that Barbados’ basic political arrangements are set down in one document. A constitution is the fundamental authoritative document or statement that sets out the main powers and functions of the government of a state. The Prime Minister, who is the Head of Government and his Cabinet, is located in the executive branch of Government. “The purpose of the executive branch is to formulate the policies of government, to gain legislative or other approval for these policies, and to implement them when they have been formally approved” (Sandiford, 2000: 62).

The Prime Minister of Barbados has thirteen basic powers. These powers include “choosing ministers to be members of his cabinet. It should be noted that after a change of Prime Minister or after a general election, all ministerial positions become vacant and are at the disposal of the incoming Prime Minister; presiding over meetings of the Cabinet; advising Governor-General on assignment of responsibilities to the different ministers, including transfer, promotions, and dismissals; exercising patronage; forming and re-organizing the structure of government; presenting and defending the major policies of the government in parliament, and else where; advising the Governor-General on the dissolution of parliament and the holding of elections; determining the size of his cabinet; determining the “sense”, “mood”, and “feeling” of the Cabinet and the Government; co-ordinating the work of the various government departments; taking the initiative in developing new policy thrusts; in parting and reflecting the image of the party which he leads; taking the lead in national, regional and international issues, including emergencies” (Sandiford, 2000: 63).

The powers of the Prime Minister depend on their individual leadership style and personality, but also relationships with political problems and how they deal with difficulties within government. They are four types of leadership styles they are reformers, egoist, innovators and balancers. In Britain there is no written constitution outlining the powers of the Prime Minister as opposed to in Barbados. The British Prime Minister has the power to appoint, reshuffle or dismiss ministers, which is thought to be the Prime Minister's most important power. He or she also has the power to create peers and to make appointments for example top civil servants, ambassadors, bishops and judges. The Prime Minister also has powers over ministerial conduct, whereas rules are laid out in the ministerial code, powers relating to government business for example setting the agenda for Cabinet meetings, setting up Cabinet committees and choosing whether or not to circulate minutes or papers, powers over information for example deciding whether or not to inform Parliament about government activities and using the lobby system to inform the media, powers in international relations and power to terminate a Parliament or government.

The British Prime Minister acts as a...

Bibliography: Coxall, B & Robins, L. Contemporary British Politics, Palgrave Macmillian, London, 2003
Dearlove, J. & Saunders, P. Introduction to British Politics, Polity Press, 2000
Heywood, Andrew. Politics 2nd Edition, Palgrave Macmillan (published), 2002
Munroe, Trevor. An Introduction to Politics: Lectures for First- Year Students, Canoe Press, 2002
Norton, Phillip. The British Polity, Longman, New York, 2001
Sandiford, Lloyd Erskine. Politics & Society in Barbados and the Caribbean: An Introduction, Cassia Publishing Limited, Barbados, 2000
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