A minister is the person in charge of planning, directing and coordinating government action in a given department. Thus, he is the maximum person in charge in his area of action.
The minister is one of the members of the executive power, that is, of the Government. This is divided into a series of ministries in order to facilitate the administration of all susceptible areas of the State.
The ministries are the departments into which all these areas are divided. Having said this, the minister is the person, appointed by the president, who heads and directs all the actions over which said ministry has competence.
Due to the extensive tasks that it has to manage, the ministry is itself divided into secretariats and other departments. Those in charge of directing these secretariats are appointed by the minister.
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The functions of the minister are included in the specific law of each country. Although many of them are shared with other countries, we are going to mention some of the functions carried out by ministers in Spain, included in Law 40/2015:
- Exercise regulatory power in the matters of his department.
- Set the objectives of the ministry and the resources used.
- Set the organization of the ministry.
- Maintain relations with the Autonomous Communities.
- Direct the actions of the heads of the superior and managerial bodies of the ministry.
- Ex officio review the administrative acts and resolve the conflicts of attributions when it corresponds to them.
- Award prizes and rewards of the department.
- Impose the sanction of separation from service for very serious offenses.
Although the law establishes some more functions, this list serves to reaffirm that the ministers carry out the direction and planning of everything that happens within their ministry.
The minister in parliamentary systems
The figure of the minister has some differences depending on whether it is a parliamentary regime or a presidential one. These have to do with his appointment, power and removal of him.
Parliamentary systems or regimes are characterized by having a very homogeneous executive power. In other words, the decisions of the council of ministers are made by consensus and require majority and consensual approval to carry them out. Therefore, the power of the minister is quite broad. In addition, the powers related to his portfolio, that is, to his ministry, are the exclusive responsibility of the minister himself.
Although the executive and legislative branches are quite intertwined, and ministers are usually part of the legislative chamber, they are not required to belong to it. To be elected deputy you have to go on the electoral lists, but the president can choose someone external as minister. In this case, he would not take part in the legislative votes, but he could be questioned in Parliament.
Regarding his appointment, the minister is appointed by the president or prime minister at his own discretion. He can also terminate you at any time. The ministers are responsible before the Parliament, they can be revoked, together with the rest of the executive power, through a motion of censure.
In presidential systems
The United States is the paradigmatic model of presidentialism, and we are going to see how its ministers act. In the first place, mention that these are in a position of inferiority with respect to the president. They also make up the executive branch, but it is not a relationship between equals.
Their election is also different, yes they are chosen by the president, but the difference is that they have to be ratified by the Senate, a simple majority being sufficient in their election.
The marked separation of powers establishes a clear differentiation between legislative and executive. This means that the ministers, called secretaries of state, do not have to report to Congress. Thus, the cessation of the same can only occur by end of mandate, resignation or by impeachment.