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In parliamentary governments, executive power rests in an executive body of ministers commonly referred to as “the cabinet” or “the government.” Cabinet ministers, including the prime minister, are tasked with researching, drafting, and proposing laws and policies to their legislative counterparts in parliament. Because cabinets are generally comprised at least partially of select members of parliament, parliamentary systems are characterized by the interactions and interdependence of the legislative and executive branches. Whereas presidential systems lean into separation of powers to restrict governmental power, parliamentary systems rely on integration of the branches to ensure that political powers remain in check. Executive policing in parliamentary systems is achieved through a variety of ministerial appointment processes and removal mechanisms. Consequently, the range of appointment processes and removal mechanisms affects the power dynamics between governmental branches, the stability of the government, and the risk tolerance of a cabinet’s policy goals. This paper focuses exclusively on the functions and varieties of ministerial appointment processes.

While ministerial appointment processes carry important implications for the government, the full range of these processes is, collectively, not well understood. This taxonomy strives to capture the characteristics of different ministerial appointment processes and understand better how they function so that countries seeking governmental reform can better understand their options. This taxonomy is based on research from twenty-five countries that were selected to represent different geographies, governmental legacies, and parliamentary structures. These countries offer both common and unique ministerial systems for consideration.

This collection of information is presented in five main sections. The paper begins with an introduction to ministerial appointment processes generally. Then, the next three sections further detail the three categories of ministerial appointment processes and explain how each category moves through the three main stages of appointing a government. Finally, the last section of the paper addresses appointment process outliers that do not squarely fit into any of the three primary ministerial appointment categories.