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Power of the Prime Minister and President

Info: 4742 words (19 pages) Law Essay
Published: 12th Aug 2019

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Jurisdiction(s): US LawUK Law

In what concerns the power, an important point would be to outline the relationship between the external factors, internal factors and a persons access to options and choice. Therefore, when faced to powerful external factors it is able to show the right power to confront without putting at risk the realisation of important goals, the knowledge of alternative actions and the ability to adapt to the presence of a pathological factor inside the situation. States as empowered actors, have a series of different resources that can be included in the ample definition of power. These resources consist of money power, military power and control of several systems and mechanisms within the state.

Resources are related to a broad range of material and ideological benefits. A persone that is empowered with a social or political status can use its authority as a system, to influence on people or organizations in order to achieve its goals. However, power is based on dependence. If the state uses power, it is dependend on the ones that are supposed to respond and on resources of any kind. Therefore, power is a very relative term and possesion when regarding the situation in which, the weak actor, with no material resources, or little possesion of authority, can use observation in order to detect the powerful actor’s weaknesses with the scope of speculating with them in order to resist without puting at risk its situation. This situation is often found in literature as micro-resistance (Foucault) or asymetrie. Martin J. Smith Power and the State2009 palgrave macmillan publishers limited, basingstoke, uk.

However, power is not always uniformly distributed with the state,it is divided in structures.

According to Smith(2009: 84), structures are the institutions with access to certain resources which ensure that specific groups have more access to resources that others. Thereofore, power is not structural, but resources are distribitued in structures and these structures are used to exercise power. However, the way the resources are distributed and in which structures, is decided by the constitution.

In the USA, the constitution gives the President the major power in the state. Accordint to the article 2.1 in the USA Constitution “The executive Power shall be vested in the President of the United States of America”. The President is elected by the Congress in which the Electors meet and vote for two different persons, both residents of different states. After Electors vote, they make a list with the name of two cadidates and with the number of votes that each one recieved. The list is checked by the President of the Senate who opens all the ceritifcates and counts the vote in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives. The candidate with the highest number of votes is appointed President.

The elected president is now the head of the Executive Branch of the federal government. In Section 2 and 3 of the American Constitution it is stated that the President is also empowerd to be the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, to make Treaties, Veto Legislation, to nominate and appoint Ambassadors, Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court and all Officers of the United States.

Article II gives the president authority to recommend measures for congressional consideration. Pursuant to this authority, presidents submit budgets, propose bills, and recommend other action to be taken by Congress.

British Prime Minister

The British Political System does not have a written constitution, which mean it does not have a codified act. However, its principles are inspired from the Magna Carta, the Great Reform Bill and the Parliament Act. Therefore, the prime minister’s role is not defined by the Constitution and its formal status is not recognised by legal documents. His position has been created in a step-by-step process over the last three decades. However, he is the highest authoritative figure in the United Kingdom and his role is considerably influent in the national economics and foreign policy decisions. His job conjugates both legislative and executive matters. In his capacity, the British Prime Minister is the Head of the executive, which means thaat he is in charge of the civil and government service and is decesive in its changes. Moreover, he is the head of the government policy in the means that has a considerable influence on the party’s election and is able aswell to outline or avoid taking in consideration certain policies. He is also the Party leader which involves not only being responsible of the party and the government but also the personality representative of that party in the public. Nevertheless, the British Prime Minister is the UK Representative overseas. Since decades ago, more specifically, since 1970prime ministers have been involved in many trips and meatings with international government representatives. There are regular trips per year such as the biannual Commonwealth Heads of Government and summits in Ireland and USA. According to Jones et al. (2001), “in the first 6 months of 1999 Blair spent more time on Kosovo and Northern Ireland than on any domestic policy”.

It is hard to define if the British Prime Minister is more powerful than the US President because there certain types of power and there are structures where this power is distributed. How ever there can be made an estimative about the power of the two political figures on domestic politcs and foreign politics and international relations. For understanding how the power of one increases its authority on international scale it is important to understand how major is the role of the country that he is representing on world scale.

As mentioned above, power consists of three major resources, military power, economic power and the control of several systems. United States of America,

Veto Power

Under Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution, “every bill” and “every order, resolution or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary” must be presented to the president for approval. This “presentment” requirement does not apply to constitutional amendments, procedural rules of each house, and several other types of legislative action.

Under the Constitution, the president has ten days (not counting Sundays) in which to consider legislation presented for approval. The president has three options: sign the bill, making it law; veto the bill; or take no action on the bill during the ten-day period. If the president vetoes the bill, it can be overridden by a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress. If the president takes no action, the bill automatically becomes law after ten days. However, if Congress adjourns before the ten days have expired and the president has not signed the bill, it is said to have been subjected to the pocket veto, which differs from a regular veto in that the pocket veto cannot be overridden by Congress.

In 1996, Congress gave the president the authority to select particular items from appropriation bills and individually veto them. The federal line-item veto authority (2 U.S.C.A. §§ 691 & 692) gave the president the ability to impose cuts on the Federal Budget without vetoing a bill in its entirety. The line-item veto, like a regular veto, could be overridden by a two-thirds majority vote of both houses.

This law was immediately challenged as a violation of Separation of Powers by five members of Congress. They argued that line item veto disrupted the historic balance of powers between the legislative and executive branches

and that it violated Article I, Section 7. The Supreme Court, in Raines v. Byrd, 521 U.S. 811, 122 S.Ct. 1700, 152 L.Ed.2d 771 (12002), refused to hear the case, dismissing it for lack of jurisdiction. The Court held that the legislators lacked legal standing to bring the lawsuit because they could show no personal injury from the new power.

The constitutionality of the line-item veto act was finally adjudicated in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417, 118 S.Ct. 2091, 141 L.Ed.2d 393 (1998). The Supreme Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it violated the Constitution’s Presentment Clause. Under the Presentment Clause (Article I, Section 7), after a bill has passed both Houses, but “before it become[s] a Law,” it must be presented to the president, who “shall sign it” if he approves it, but “return it,” (“veto” it) if he does not. Nothing in this clause authorized the president to amend or repeal a bill.

The veto gives the president enormous power to influence the writing of legislation. By threatening a veto before legislation is passed, the president can force Congress to compromise and pass amendments it would otherwise find unacceptable.

Executive Orders

The president’s executive powers also include the authority to issue proclamations and executive orders. A proclamation is the president’s official announcement that the president is taking a particular action. Such an announcement is not the same as an Executive Order, which has the force and effect of law by carrying out a provision of the Constitution, a federal statute, or a treaty. The Constitution does not expressly give the president the power to promulgate executive orders. Instead, this power has been inferred from the president’s obligation to faithfully execute the laws. Proclamations and executive orders are published in the Federal Register to notify the country of presidential actions.

Powers of Appointment

The president has the power to appoint ambassadors, cabinet officers, and federal judges, subject to confirmation by a majority vote of the Senate. Upper-level executive branch officials, who numbered more than 2,500 in 2002, are appointed solely at the discretion of the president or department head without Senate review. The power to appoint federal judges gives a president the opportunity to place on the federal bench for lifelong terms persons who agree with the president’s views on law and the role of the judicial system. A president is limited to serving eight years. A federal judge may serve for decades.

Pardon Power

The president is given the power under the Constitution to “grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” The president may grant a full pardon to a person accused or convicted of a federal crime, releasing the person from any punishment and restoring her or his Civil Rights. The president may also issue conditional pardons that forgive the convicted person in part, reduce a penalty a specified number of years, or alter a penalty with conditions.

A pardon is generally a private transaction between the president and an individual. However, in 1977, President jimmy carter granted an Amnesty that was, in effect, a blanket pardon to those who were either deserters or draft evaders during the Vietnam War.

Power of Impoundment

Presidential Impoundment is the refusal of the chief executive to expend funds appropriated by Congress. Thomas Jefferson was the first president to impound funds, and many other presidents have followed suit. Congress has granted the president the authority not to spend funds if it has appropriated more funds than necessary to reach its goals. However, the president does not have a limitless impoundment power. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Train v. City of New York, 420 U.S. 35, 95 S. Ct. 839, 43 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1975), ruled that President richard m. nixon could not order the impoundment of substantial amounts of environmental protection funds for a program he vetoed, which had been overridden by Congress. The president cannot frustrate the will of Congress by killing a program through impoundment.

Foreign Policy Powers

The president or his designated representative, such as the Secretary of State, has the exclusive authority to communicate with other nations, recognize foreign governments, receive ambassadors, and make executive agreements. Throughout U.S. history, Congress and the courts have granted the president great deference in conducting foreign policy. This deference is based, in part, on the need for one person, rather than 535 members of Congress, to represent and speak for a national constituency.

These powers were illustrated in the aftermath of the september 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. President george w. bush warned the Taliban government of Afghanistan to surrender Osama bin Laden and other terrorists or face the possibility of war. In the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and other representatives lobbied the United Nations for support of the U.S. position on Iraq.

In addition to the authority to recognize foreign governments, the president is empowered by Article II to make treaties with foreign nations, subject to the consent of the Senate. A treaty is an agreement between two or more nations containing promises to behave in specified ways.

Executive agreements are international compacts that the president makes with foreign nations without the approval of the Senate. They do not have the same legal status as treaties unless they are subsequently ratified by the Senate. The Constitution does not expressly give the president the power to make executive agreements. However, this power has been inferred from the president’s general constitutional authority over foreign affairs. At one time, executive agreements involved minor matters, such as postal relations and the use of radio frequencies. Since the 1930s, however, presidents have negotiated important foreign policy issues through these agreements rather than through treaties. The Supreme Court has recognized that an executive agreement is legally equivalent to a treaty and therefore the supreme law of the land. Executive agreements enable the president to achieve results while avoiding the uncertainty of treaty ratification.

Presidential War Powers

An integral part of the president’s foreign policy role is the enormous power of the U.S. armed forces, over which the Constitution makes the president commander in chief. The president may threaten a foreign nation with force or actually conduct military actions to protect U.S. interests, aid U.S. allies, and maintain national security.

Although the president is commander-in-chief, Article I of the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. Despite this apparent constitutional impediment, presidents since Thomas Jefferson have dispatched troops to combat situations without the prior approval of Congress. The Supreme Court held in the Prize cases, 67 U.S. 635, 17 L. Ed. 459; 70 U.S. 451, 18 L. Ed. 197; 70 U.S. 514, 18 L. Ed. 200; 70 U.S. 559, 18 L. Ed. 220 (1863), that the president has the authority to resist force without the need for special legislative action.

In times of crisis, the president has the power to commit U.S. forces, but the Vietnam War led Congress to place limits on the presidential war power. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 (50 U.S.C.A. §§ 1541 et seq.) restricts the president’s power to mobilize the military during undeclared war. It requires the president to make a full report to Congress when sending troops into foreign areas, limits the duration of troop commitment without congressional authorization, and provides a veto mechanism that allows Congress to force a recall of troops at any time.

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Congress passed a resolution authorizing the president to use force to fight a War on Terrorism. President George W. Bush issued military orders in October and November 2001 that mobilized National Guard and Army Reserve units and directed the detention of enemy combatants by the military. In a controversial move, President Bush authorized military tribunals to try suspected terrorists. After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, many suspected terrorists were captured and moved to military prisons for indefinite terms of detention. The invasion of Iraq by U.S. and British forces in March 2003 was authorized by Congress in the fall of 2002, again giving the president as commander-in-chief broad authority to conduct a military campaign.

The president also has broad powers over domestic policy during wartime. President Abraham Lincoln issued an order to military commanders suspending Habeas Corpus during the Civil War, which allowed the military to arrest and detain persons without trial for an indefinite time. Congress later passed a law suspending habeas corpus, but after the Civil War, the Supreme Court, in ex parte milligan, 71 U.S. 2, 18 L. Ed. 281 (1866), condemned Lincoln’s directive establishing military jurisdiction over civilians outside the immediate war zone.

During the early days of U.S. involvement in World War II, President franklin d. roosevelt issued compelling national security interest during a time of war to take such extreme measures.

Following the September 11 attacks on the United States, Congress passed the usa patriot act, which gives the president increased powers to wiretap suspected terrorists without judicial supervision as well as the power to indefinitely detain Aliens who are suspected of Terrorism. U.S. citizens who have been held as enemy combatants in military prisons without the right to consult with an attorney or have a criminal trial have challenged the president’s authority. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 316 F.3d 450 (4th Cir. 2003), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the courts must defer to the president when dealing with issues of national security. Therefore, the president could order the indefinite detention of enemy combatants.

orders authorizing the establishment of “military areas” from which dangerous persons could be expelled or excluded. This order was used to designate the West Coast a military area and to remove and imprison 120,000 Japanese Americans in “relocation centers” for the duration of the war. The Supreme Court upheld the relocation order in korematsu v. united states, 323 U.S. 214, 65 S. Ct. 193, 89 L. Ed. 194 (1944), finding that the government had a

The President is also empowered to choose persons for the vacancies that can occur during the Recess of the Senate. Section. 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States

The biritsh prime minister: The powers of the Prime Minister within the British political structure have developed in recent years to such an extent that some political analyst now refer to Britain as having a Prime Ministerial government rather than a Cabinet government.

The Prime Minister selects his own Cabinet and he will select those people who:

Have ability Have demonstrated good party loyalty Have clearly demonstrated loyalty to the Prime Minister himself

Those Cabinet members who do not ‘come up to scratch’ within their department will be removed from the Cabinet by the Prime Minister or ‘reshuffled’ to another position within the Cabinet – almost certainly at a lower level. Any senior Cabinet position brings with it certain rewards – chauffeured cars; a central London government house or a country weekend retreat such as Dorneywood; a much greater opportunity for overseas travel; a much higher salary etc. Therefore, those MP’s who are selected for a Cabinet post will be expected to be suitably loyal to the Prime Minister who has put them in this position.

Some claim that by doing this, the Prime Minister surrounds himself with ‘yes’ people – those who simply accept the wishes of the Prime Minister and rarely get involved in robust discussions at Cabinet meetings. This was a major complaint of Mo Mowlam, the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. She claims that Cabinet meetings she attended – the agenda of which is drawn up by the Prime Minister – were no more than sessions where Blair’s policy beliefs were supported.

The Prime Minister himself does not have any departmental responsibilities. Therefore, in theory, he does have more time to spend in maintaining control he has over his party.

By controlling influential committees, the Prime Minister can also ensure that he drives the policies of these committees.

The Prime Minister also has control over the Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office is headed by the Cabinet Secretary who is also head of the Civil Service. He has to work very closely with the Prime Minister. As senior positions within the Civil Service are appointed by the Prime Minister, it is likely that those who aspire to be senior civil servants will do little to tarnish their reputation with regards to their relationship to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister also has his own Prime Minister’s Office based at 10, Downing Street. This is made up of civil servants, political advisors, party political supporters from business, trade unions etc and ‘spin doctors’. How much this has influence over a Prime Minister is difficult to assess but some have said that the current Head of Communications at 10, Downing Street, Alastair Campbell, has too much of a ready access to the Prime Minister, and more influence than the Cabinet.

Harold Wilson (Labour Prime Minister 1964-66; 1966-1970; 1974-76) was famed for his so-called ‘Kitchen Cabinets’ whereby a few favourites met to discuss policy issues and by-passed and input by the Cabinet ironically selected by Wilson. Margaret Thatcher was also in favour of using small groups of advisors and Cabinet members and thus by-passed what were perceived to be the ‘proper’ ways of doing things. It is said that her decision to ban trade unions at GCHQ in Cheltenham in 1984, was the result of a meeting between such a small group but a meeting that by-passed the convention of Cabinet collective decision making.

Blair has been accused of doing this – using a small group of people to discuss policy matters – but also of having a compliant Cabinet. Therefore, when it comes to the Cabinet to discuss already discussed policy issues, some political analysts argue, that the policy will be passed but the process of Cabinet discussion will have taken place.

The Prime Minister can also be influenced by pressure groups that he has sympathy with. This can also help in policy issues and can also lead to the role of the Cabinet being by-passed. Margaret Thatcher was sympathetic to the Adam Smith Institute while Tony Blair is said to be influenced by Demos.

The issue of whether small groups help to formulate government policy is important. If it is true that this happens (and no Prime Minister would admit to this) then it must question the whole democratic approach to decision making. Pressure groups, support groups, individuals etc. are not elected to government by the people whereas the Cabinet, as working MP’s, have gone through the electoral process.

Some examples of recent events whereby important decisions were made by a small group of people include:

The devaluation of the pound in 1967 by Harold Wilson; The Falklands conflict of 1982 when the Cabinet was suspended by Margaret Thatcher and replaced by a ‘War Cabinet’; The Gulf War of 1991 when John Major worked with a ‘War Cabinet’ The decision to allow tobacco advertising at Formula One events by Tony Blair

Tony Blair has been accused of putting ‘yes’ people in positions of responsibility. Some of the media have accused him of “control freakery” and having a desire to create a “culture of cronyism”.

American president :

The differences between a president and a prime minister largely depend upon the country to which one is referring. A president and prime minister may have relatively equal powers, but this again is dependent upon the type of government a country employs. There are many inaccurate definitions of the differences, which only help confuse the matter further.

A president usually achieves power by being elected. A prime minister tends to achieve power by being appointed. Appointing bodies vary. For example in the United Kingdom, the position of prime minister is appointed by the parliament. It is almost always the case that the parliamentary appointment will be made by the party with the most members in parliament. In this way, citizens who vote for parliamentary members indirectly influence choice of prime minister, since a high number of parliamentary members of the same party will elect a prime minister of that party.

In the UK, elections of a prime minister must occur no greater than every five years. They can however occur with greater frequency if parliament decides to oust a prime minister. Each week, the prime minister of the UK must appear before parliament and answer questions regarding his or her decisions. If parliament doesn’t like the answers, they can immediately decide to convene elections for a new prime minister.

A president, on the other hand, does not have to answer to the senate or the house in the US, unless the president has committed an illegal act. He or she may propose or support laws in speeches to the senate or house, and may also take questions. The house or senate cannot decide to oust a president without due cause. As well, the president is elected by the people, which means that the house and senate can be of different political parties than the president. This is part of the checks and balances system which keeps any branch of the US government from having too much power.

In France, the government is constructed in a similar way to that of the US. However, the French president, who is elected by the people every five years, must appoint a prime minister. Thus the prime minister is likely to be a representative from the president’s political party. The prime minister in a country with a presidency has much less power to act. Actually, the prime minister in most countries is empowered to represent an executive body or person. So the prime minister, in most cases, cannot declare war.

In a country where the ruling family appoints the prime minister, the appointee usually acts in concert with the wishes of the country’s nominal heads. The prime minister may be of great assistance in making decisions about foreign and domestic policy, but serves at the pleasure of his king or queen.

It is not so different with the parliamentary prime minister appointment in the United Kingdom. The prime minister is the representative of what parliament wants. To fail to properly represent parliament will often result in dismissal.

The president, conversely, usually does not have to answer to a parliamentary or senatorial body once he or she is elected. He may require the legislative body in order to enact laws, but he can also overrule the legislature. Provided the president does not commit an illegal act, the legislature is not empowered to remove the president. The citizens also may not remove a president, unless the president has in some way committed gross illegal acts. The only possibility for removal of a president people simply don’t like, is through electing someone else at the end of a president’s term.

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