The executive is the branch of government, or the individual(s) at the top of that branch, that executes or administers policies and laws in a country. There are three types of executives. The head of state is a person with executive functions symbolic of the country, and an example is a monarch. The head of government is a leader who has some executive power, and an example is a prime minister. The President is a leader that usually combines the roles of head of state and head of government. There are three forms executive systems: presidential, parliamentary, and semi-presidential. The powers an executive differ from state to state. However, most executives have the power to veto, make military decisions, appoint judicial, call a state of emergency, and dissolve the legislature.

Essential Questions

  • What is the role of the executive in a government?
  • How does a head of state differ from a head of government?
  • Does the role of the executive vary in democratic and authoritarian regimes?
  • How has the Westminster model set a precedent (pun intended) on parliamentary systems?
  • How does a parliamentary system differ from a presidential system? Semi-presidential?

Comparative Chart


China Iran UK Nigeria Mexico Russia
Executive system Semi-Presidential Semi-presidential Parliamentary Presidential Presidential Semi-presidential
Executive President (head of state): Xi Jinping

Prime Minister (head of government) :Li Keqiang

Supreme Leader (head of state): Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI

President (head of government): Hasan Fereidun RUHANI

Prime Minister (head of government): Theresa May

Monarch: (Head of State):

Elizabeth II

President: Muhammadu Buhari President: Enrique Pena Nieto President (head of state): Vladimir Putin

Prime Minister (head of government): Dmitry Medvedev

Level of power of executive(s) 1-10 9 7 5 4 5 9


Vladimir Putin Doesn't Understand the Limits of Donald Trump's Power

This is is significant because it compares the idea of the limits of power on the executive in Russia and the US.

The constitutional question: Can Congress stop Trump from firing Mueller?

This explains how the judiciary has checks on the executive.

Congress Should Take the Heat for Trump's Tariffs  

This article is interesting because the author writes how congress also has checks on the executive in the US.