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body; he has extensive power in international relations, as in the framing of treaties or commercial agreements; he has supreme command and disposition of all the military forces of the state; he has the right to extend pardon to any person convicted in the courts of the state. The great powers of the executive head make correspondingly important for us a knowledge of the methods of selection of such head, his tenure of office, and the methods of procedure in undertaking the complicated duties of the position.
III. SELECTION OF CHIEF EXECUTIVE Hereditary Method of Selecting Executive Head. For the selection of the nominal head of the executive department two methods are used in modern states: the hereditary method and the elective method.
The hereditary method is a relic of the monarchical government of previous ages. By this method the person of the nominal ruler is determined by blood relationship, usually by direct descent from a previous monarch, and the selection in many states is confined to males. In all democratic states to-day the nominal ruler thus selected has his powers as executive head carefully hedged about by constitutional restrictions. In England, for example, the hereditary monarch has long since ceased to be more than a nominal executive head, all the executive power being in the hands of his ministry; in Italy and in Spain the king is now completely under the control of his ministry, though it is said that the monarch's personal influence is very great.
Elective Method: Direct Election.—The methods of selection by election vary, as did the selection by election of members of the upper house of the legislative body, in that in some states the executive head is elected directly by the people and in other states is elected indirectly by an intermediate body. The method of direct popular election is used in Germany alone among the great modern states which have been most under discussion; it is also used at present in a few important South
American republics, as Brazil and Peru. As an actual fact, however, the method of indirect elections in the United States has, under party influence, become a species of direct election, for the members of the intermediate body charged with selection are elected by parties and are under party pledge to cast their votes for a man previously named. So obvious is the uselessness of this intermediary body in the United States under present conditions that in 1913 the executive head proposed that measures be taken to provide for a system of direct election.
There is much to be said in favor of the direct election of the chief executive, the chief arguments being that this method is more nearly the ideal of modern democracy, and that an executive thus chosen is more likely to retain the confidence of the people at large. Those opposed to the selection of the executive head by direct election point to the great disturbance to the state which such direct election involves, and emphasize the proneness of the mass of the people to be swayed by demagogues.
Elective Method: Indirect Election. There are two methods by which the executive head is chosen by indirect election: first, his selection by an intermediate body elected for the special purpose by the people of the state; and second, his selection by the legislative body.
The former of these methods is the system used in the United States and in certain American republics whose governments are modeled upon that of the United States, as Chile and the Argentine Republic. The advantages claimed for this system are that the final choice for so important an official in the government is restricted to a small body of select men, and that the excitement and turmoil attending a popular election are avoided; but it is a fact that, where the system has not, under party influences, become practically direct (as in the United States), the opportunities for intrigue and corruption in the small body are much increased.
The selection of the executive head by the legislative body is the method of indirect election used in France. In that state the two chambers of the legislature meet in joint session (called the national assembly) at Versailles and ballot for the President of the Republic. The advantages claimed by the defenders of this method of selection are: (1) that in the legislative body are those men acquainted with the nature of the state problems and best fitted to choose an executive head to cope with these, and (2) that the choice of the executive head by the legislative body insures a cordial coöperation between the executive and legislative branches of government in the many and great tasks they jointly perform. Some very serious objections offset these, however. The possibility of intrigue where the head of one powerful branch of government is dependent upon the will of another branch of government is great; an ambitious and unscrupulous candidate might yield to the temptation to gain the office or to retain the office by promises of political rewards or influence to members of the legislative body. Furthermore, to put the burden of selecting the executive head upon the legislative body is to impose upon that body a task which is not primarily its function and which is certain to interfere, for a time at least, with legislative procedure. During the period when such a selection is in progress, ordinary necessary legislation is certain to be blocked or strongly affected; in an especially exciting contest for the executive officer, the time lost may be very considerable.
Tenure of Office of Elected Executive Heads.- In the case of elected executive heads, whether elected directly or indirectly, the tenure of office is commonly short, the idea being to keep the control of this office in the hands of the people or their representatives. In the United States the President is elected for four years and is eligible for reëlection; in France and Germany the term is seven years and the President is eligible for rëelection; the President of Chile is chosen for five years and is not eligible for reëlection. In general, the constitutions of the various states have been drawn with the purpose of making the tenure sufficiently long to insure a firmness and continuity of policy and stability of administrative system on the part of each individual executive head. Were the tenure of office very short, as, for example, one year, a chief executive might be unwilling to risk the ill will of the people in pursuit of the policy he deemed right in view of the fact that he had to give up his position so soon, or he might hesitate to attempt some great undertaking in view of the burden he would have to pass on to his successors. On the other hand, were the tenure of office very long, as, for example, ten or fifteen years, the temptation would be correspondingly great for an unprincipled man to use all the means which his high position yields to gratify his ambitions and perpetuate his power indefinitely. In general, democratic states are in agreement upon a term of from four to seven years.
Eligibility for Reëlection of Elected Executive Heads.The question of eligibility for reëlection is involved in this consideration. In favor of reëligibility it may be said that the state ought to have the opportunity to continue the services of an executive head who has been notably successful in the conduct of his office. Yet it is true, on the other hand, that the prospect of reëlection may have a harmful effect on the activities of the executive head, as where he is restrained from certain procedure for fear of incurring the displeasure of the electorate or where he yields to popular pressure in some matter of doubtful expediency that he may gain the favor of the electorate. In the United States the lack of any reference in the constitution to eligibility of Presidents for reëlection has permitted a number of chief executives to succeed themselves, but the custom established by the first President of restricting the number of terms to two has not up to this time been broken. In Mexico, where the term of the executive head is fixed at six years and the question of reëligibility not mentioned, one man (Diaz) was continuously in power from 1884 to 1910. In France a President has rarely succeeded himself, although he may do so under the constitution.
Nominal and Actual Executive Heads. In the last few paragraphs we have been considering the selecticn and tenure of office of the nominal executive heads of the states. It has already been emphasized that in some states the nominal executive head is not the same as the actual executive head. We should, therefore, include in our consideration an examination of the actual executive heads in such states.
The actual executive head differs from the nominal executive head most notably in England, France, post-war Germany, and Italy.
England: Cabinet System. The system whereby the actual executive powers reside in a body of ministers rather than in the nominal executive head originated in England (where the body of ministers is known conventionally as the cabinet) and has attained its most typical form there. Like many other political institutions, as the bicameral legislature, the cabinet system is the product of evolution and not of deliberate invention.
The cabinet system developed out of the king's privy council of the eleventh century. This privy council, from the eleventh to the seventeenth century a powerful and important body, constituted an advisory board for the sovereign. Later kings, believing the privy council too large for confidential consultation, consulted only with a few of its leading members and thus developed an inner committee of the privy council, originally scornfully referred to as the cabinet, or the cabinet council. From this cabinet has descended directly the present cabinet. The privy council still exists, but all of its powers are in the hands of this select committee known as the cabinet. The cabinet has no recognized legal status; the king does not meet with it; it has no secretary and keeps no records of its deliberations; it is summoned by its head, the prime minister. It still remains, legally, a select committee of the privy council, and has no legal authority except by virtue of its being a part of the privy council.
The main features of the cabinet system as it exists at present in England are: (1) the appointment by the king of a