Cabinet (government)

A cabinet is a body of high-ranking state officials, typically consisting of the executive branch's top leaders. Members of a cabinet are usually called cabinet ministers or secretaries. The function of a cabinet varies: in some countries, it is a collegiate decision-making body with collective responsibility, while in others it may function either as a purely advisory body or an assisting institution to a decision-making head of state or head of government. Cabinets are typically the body responsible for the day-to-day management of the government and response to sudden events, whereas the legislative and judicial branches work in a measured pace, in sessions according to lengthy procedures.

The Cabinet table in the United Kingdom.
Episcopal Summer Palace, the seat of the government of Slovakia in Bratislava.

In some countries, particularly those that use a parliamentary system (e.g., the UK), the Cabinet collectively decides the government's direction, especially in regard to legislation passed by the parliament. In countries with a presidential system, such as the United States, the Cabinet does not function as a collective legislative influence; rather, their primary role is as an official advisory council to the head of government. In this way, the President obtains opinions and advice relating to forthcoming decisions. Legally, under both types of system, the Westminster variant of a parliamentary system and the presidential system, the Cabinet "advises" the Head of State: the difference is that, in a parliamentary system, the monarch, viceroy or ceremonial president will almost always follow this advice, whereas, in a presidential system, a president who is also head of government and political leader may depart from the Cabinet's advice if they do not agree with it. In practice, in nearly all parliamentary democracies that do not follow the Westminster system, and in three countries that do (Japan, Ireland, and Israel), very often the Cabinet does not "advise" the Head of State as they play only a ceremonial role. Instead, it is usually the head of government (usually called Prime Minister) who holds all means of power in their hands (e.g. in Germany, Sweden, etc.) and to whom the Cabinet reports.

In both presidential and parliamentary systems, cabinet officials administer executive branches, government agencies, or departments. In the United States federal government, these are the federal executive departments. Cabinets are also important originators for legislation. Cabinets and ministers are usually in charge of the preparation of proposed legislation in the ministries before it is passed to the parliament. Thus, often the majority of new legislation actually originates from the cabinet and its ministries.