What Are the Duties of a Prime Minister?

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While the laws surrounding prime minister duties vary between countries, these responsibilities are often based on the British system. Prime ministers are the head of state and determine government business and cabinet agendas. A prime minister selects, reassigns and removes cabinet ministers, and prime ministers select upper house members, top civil servants, ambassadors and judges. Additionally, prime ministers hold the power to hide information from the public and parliament.

Additional responsibilities of the prime minister include the ability to hand out honors and utilize the media. Prime ministers may also end their term and call a general election.

Prime ministers are appointed by parliament and are almost always chosen from the political party that holds the most seats. Since members of parliament are able to retain their seat in parliament, this means the legislative and executive branches are almost completely joined. Additionally, if parliament is displeased with a prime minister, members may hold a vote of no confidence to remove the prime minister from office.

Alternatively, some governments utilize a semi-presidential system, where both a president and prime minister exist. In this system, the public elects a president and parliament appoints a prime minister. In some countries, such as Finland, the responsibility of the prime minister is to handle domestic policy while the president handles foreign policy.