In the Federalist Papers it is interesting to read Alexander Hamilton's arguments against an executive council. It appears he feared shared power in the executive would make the executive weak and unable to perform its duties but also allow the executive to avoid responsibility.
The Westminster system is no stranger to the Executive Council. Originally the executive council was a means to remove executive power from the monarch while still maintaining their ceremonial authority. The Prime Minister position became rather presidential. From British history we remember strong Prime Ministers such as Pitt and Disraeli.
Australia adopted similar patterns whether the executive relationship was formal or informal through a single constitution or multiple legislative acts. For instance the Prime Ministerial behaviour of Australia, Canada and even Queensland were very similar despite Canada and Queensland not having formal constitutions until recently.
The Prime Minister has become an increasingly Presidential position in all parliamentary systems.
The only system I can think of that has multiple magistrates in or above the executive council is Iran with its theocratic Supreme Leader and Council of Guardians.
Alexander Hamilton has the strongest arguments for a singular executive
in Federalist No.70
. He argues that since the sole purpose of the Executive is to execute the law, there should be no dissension in the execution which an executive council might cause. The place for bickering is in the legislative when the law is being made, but once it becomes law, then it becomes fundamental that it is implemented as the legislators saw fit;
Wherever two or more persons are engaged in any common enterprise or pursuit, there is always danger of difference of opinion. If it be a public trust or office, in which they are clothed with equal dignity and authority, there is peculiar danger of personal emulation and even animosity. From either, and especially from all these causes, the most bitter dissensions are apt to spring. Whenever these happen, they lessen the respectability, weaken the authority, and distract the plans and operation of those whom they divide.
If they should unfortunately assail the supreme executive magistracy of a country, consisting of a plurality of persons, they might impede or frustrate the most important measures of the government, in the most critical emergencies of the state. And what is still worse, they might split the community into the most violent and irreconcilable factions, adhering differently to the different individuals who composed the magistracy.
There is particular irony here in the Bush Administration recently giving the Vice-President increasing executive power through executive orders. Much of what the Bush Administration has done has been hostile to the intentions of the founders of the American Republic, this is another.
Hamilton also argues that accountability and responsibility are strong arguments for a singular executive. Colloquially this is best known as Harry Truman's
"The buck stops here"
placard on his desk. Hamilton writes;
But one of the weightiest objections to a plurality in the Executive, and which lies as much against the last as the first plan, is, that it tends to conceal faults and destroy responsibility. Responsibility is of two kinds -- to censure and to punishment. The first is the more important of the two, especially in an elective office.
Man, in public trust, will much oftener act in such a manner as to render him unworthy of being any longer trusted, than in such a manner as to make him obnoxious to legal punishment. But the multiplication of the Executive adds to the difficulty of detection in either case. It often becomes impossible, amidst mutual accusations, to determine on whom the blame or the punishment of a pernicious measure, or series of pernicious measures, ought really to fall. It is shifted from one to another with so much dexterity, and under such plausible appearances, that the public opinion is left in suspense about the real author.
The circumstances which may have led to any national miscarriage or misfortune are sometimes so complicated that, where there are a number of actors who may have had different degrees and kinds of agency, though we may clearly see upon the whole that there has been mismanagement, yet it may be impracticable to pronounce to whose account the evil which may have been incurred is truly chargeable.
Responsible government and ministerial responsibility is being trashed in Australia but I do not believe it is because of the executive council. It is modern media management.
John Quiggin has an interesting response which provides a solution in the Australian example of government
More Reading on Alexander hamilton
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Phoenix Eats Out
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This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
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Alternate Australian Constitutions
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
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One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
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Who Is Cam Riley
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
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lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.
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