Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The national executive—more usually referred to as the “government” or, in the United States, as the “administration”—is the only political institution that exists in every country. There cannot be a state without a national executive, while bodies such as legislatures, parties, or interest groups exist only where the polity is, at least relatively speaking, liberal-democratic. This entry concentrates exclusively on liberal-democratic polities, which have become, by the early years of the 21st century, a substantial majority of the 200 or so polities of the world; yet there are still countries without legislatures, without parties, or even without interest groups, either because they are very traditional, as some of the Middle Eastern states, or because a coup, typically of a military character, replaced a liberal-democratic political system that had been in place for only a few years. Both the composition and the power of national executives need to be examined with ...