Council of Ministers
The highest administrative organ of state authority, the Council of Ministers (commonly called the cabinet), and its chairperson, the prime minister, constitute the acting government. The Council of Ministers answers to the Sejm or, between Sejm sessions, to the president. Prior to the adoption of the Little Constitution, the Sejm could dismiss individual ministers or the entire Council of Ministers on its own initiative. The Little Constitution restricts this prerogative by requiring the Sejm to nominate an alternative candidate supported by an absolute majority of Sejm deputies. If the Sejm produces no such candidate, no vote for dismissal may be taken. The Little Constitution also eliminates the president's power to move for the government's dismissal.
The authority of the Council of Ministers is quite broad. The council coordinates the activities of the ministries and their subordinate entities. Among its other legally specified functions is compiling an annual state budget and presenting it to the Sejm and the Senate for approval. The Council of Ministers also presents an annual report on the previous year's budgetary implementation. Other constitutional functions include ensuring public order; protecting the interests of the state and the rights of individual citizens; guiding foreign policy and national defense; and organizing the armed forces and setting induction quotas. In running the Council of Ministers, the prime minister is assisted by one or more deputy prime ministers and a director of the Office of the Council of Ministers. In mid-1992, the government consisted of seventeen ministries, the Office of Central Planning, and three ministers without portfolio.
The jurisdiction of the ministries is defined by statute, on the basis of which the ministries issue decrees and regulations. Under secretaries of state and vice ministers provide managerial support to the ministers. For certain ministries with exceptionally broad responsibilities, the position of secretary of state was established. The prime minister has authority to appoint and dismiss secretaries and under secretaries of state.
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