- Alternate meanings in cabinet (disambiguation)
A Cabinet is a body of high-ranking members of government, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers or the Executive Council.
In some countries, particularly those with parliamentary systems, the cabinet collectively decides the government's policy and tactical direction, especially in regards to legislation passed by the parliament. In other countries, such as the United States, the cabinet has little collective power or influence over lawmaking, and instead functions largely as an advisory council to the Head of Government. In some countries, cabinets are required to be appointed from sitting members of the legislature.
In most governments, members of the cabinet are given the title of minister, and each hold a different portfolio of government duties ("Minister of the Environment", etc). In a few governments, the title of secretary is used for cabinet members. The day-to-day role of cabinet members is to serve as the head of one segment of the national bureaucracy, as the head civil servant to which all other employees in that department report.
Historically, cabinets are the successors of Privy Councils. The notion of the modern cabinet is credited to the reign of George I and George II; both of whom made use of such a system, as they weren't native speakers of the language in which they governed.
In some European countries and in the European Union, cabinet (pronounced as in French, i.e. without sounding the "t" but stressing the "e") is used to mean the private office of advisors and assistants working directly for a minister or senior executive.
The Shadow Cabinet, in Commonwealth English, are the leading members, or frontbenchers, of an opposition party, who generally hold critic portfolios "shadowing" cabinet ministers.
Note that the Council of the European Union is sometimes referred to as the Council of Ministers, but it is not actually a cabinet.
Last updated: 08-21-2005 04:08:40