The Executive arm is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state. The executive branch executes the law. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.
In many countries, the term "government" connotes only the executive branch. However, this usage fails to differentiate between despotic and democratic forms of government. In authoritarian systems, such as a dictatorship or absolute monarchy, where the different powers of government are assumed by one person or small oligarchy, the executive branch ceases to exist since there is no other branch with which to share separate but equal governmental powers.
The separation of powers system is designed to distribute authority away from the executive branch an attempt to preserve individual liberty in response to tyrannical leadership throughout history. The executive officer is not supposed to make laws (the role of the legislature) or interpret them (the role of the judiciary). The role of the executive is to enforce the law as written by the legislature and interpreted by the judicial system.
The top leadership roles of the executive branch may include:
- head of government overseeing the administration of the state, managing the bureaucracy, and enforcing the law
- foreign minister overseeing state's ambassadors, managing and determining foreign policy
- commander in chief commanding the state's armed forces and determining military policy.
In a presidential system the leader of the executive branch is at once the head of state and head of government. In a parliamentary system, a cabinet minister with the title of prime minister is head of government, while the head of state is a largely ceremonial monarch or president.
- Constitutional economics
- Legal reform
- Rule according to higher law
- Separation of powers
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