The executive in a legal system serves as a government’s centre of political authority. In a parliamentary system, as with Britain, Italy, Germany, India, and Japan, the executive is known as the cabinet, and composed of members of the legislature. The executive is chosen by the Prime Minister or Chancellor, whose office holds power under the confidence of the legislature. Because popular elections appoint political parties to govern, the leader of a party can change in between elections.
The head of state is apart from the executive, and symbolically enacts laws and acts as representative of the nation. Examples include the German president (appointed by members of federal and state Parliaments) the Queen of the United Kingdom (a hereditary title), and the Austrian president (elected by popular vote). The other important model is the presidential system, found in France, the U.S. and Russia. In presidential systems, the executive acts as both head of state and head of government, and has power to appoint an unelected cabinet. Under a presidential system, the executive branch is separate from the legislature to which it is not accountable.
Although the role of the executive varies from country to country, usually it will propose the majority of legislation, and propose government agenda. In presidential systems, the executive often has the power to veto legislation. Most executives in both systems are responsible for foreign relations, the military and police, and the bureaucracy. Ministers or other officials head a country’s public offices, such as a foreign ministry or interior ministry. The election of a different executive is therefore capable of revolutionising an entire country’s approach to government.