What is a cabinet? Not like in teh kitchen, but in government.?
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It's the people that work for the President.
Sec. of State
Sec. of Defense
Sec. of Treasury
A cabinet is the term for the government officials who head the various departments of a government's executive branch. They are political appointees, responsible for carrying out the policies of the ruling president or prime minister. As you may know, the executive is the branch that enforces laws and sets policies based on those laws.
In most governments, the executive branch is split into various departments or ministries, which oversee specific fields of government. In the USA, there are 15 departments, into which most of the agencies of the executive are organized. For example, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which concerns itself with vehicle safety, is part of the US Department of Transportation. Some agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, aren't within these specific departments, and may be so important that they are considered "Cabinet level" without formally being Cabinet departments.
Common departments/ministries in most governments would include: Foreign Affairs or State, Justice, Defense/War, Interior, Treasury, Agriculture, Labour, Commerce, Industry, Security, Health, Transportation, Environment, Energy, Education, Intelligence, and so forth. The US has cabinet departments for most of these categories.
In the US democratic system, called a presidential system, a president is elected independently to supervise and govern the executive branch, as well as be involved in the signing or vetoing of laws from the legislature. Thus, the President picks a cabinet, drawing on people whom he believes are well-qualified to head these departments. They do not have to be from any particular field, or even be in government service. These choices are confirmed by Congress, and they become Cabinet Secretaries. They are responsible to the President for the conduct of their department's bureaucracy, and the enforcement of laws and drafting of policies that correspond both to the President's goals/agenda and to the laws passed by Congress. They are also generally held accountable by Congress for the successes and failures of their department. They can be fired by the President or impeached by the Congress.
In a parliamentary system, it works slightly differently. Once a political party (or coalition of parties) has taken control of the parliament, they form a government. In this context, government refers only to the prime minister and his cabinet, since they "govern" the bureaucracy. The prime minister is a member of the legislature and the leader of his party, so he comes to run both parliament (as a legislative leader) AND the executive branch of the government. This is because, in a parliamentary system, executive power and legislative power are fused together into the parliament and its leader, the prime minister. Cabinet ministers are selected, almost always from the parliament, and they are responsible to the prime minister for the running of their ministry, and responsible to the parliament (or at least their party) as a whole. When two or more parties share power (because one party might not have a majority by itself), there is one prime minister from one of the coalition parties, but the cabinet seats are often divided up among the various parties in the coalition.
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