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Study Notes

Presidential Executive

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

A Presidential Executive is a system of government in which the head of government and head of state is one person, and typically the executive branch of government is separate from the legislative branch. In a Presidential executive, the President is not accountable to the legislature, and likewise cannot directly instruct it to do anything.

In the US the President is the sole holder of executive power and is elected by the people. Normally this would be directly elected by popular vote, but for the US, this is done through the Electoral College.

There are several key features of a Presidential Executive, which are found in most systems across the world:

  • The power of veto over legislation
  • Fixed terms in office
  • Unipersonal (meaning executive power is vested in one person, and everyone else serves at the pleasure of the President)
  • Presidents can pardon or commute sentences.
  • The existence of checks and balances between all three branches of government.

It is argued that the Presidential Executive model delivers speed and decisiveness in decisions thanks to the vesting of all executive power and stability through the use of fixed terms. However it has been criticised for leading due political gridlock, the lack of direct accountability other than the ballot box, and suggestions of imperialism.

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