in the bourgeois theory of state law, an independent power granted certain functions, as distinct from the legislative and judicial powers.
The term “executive power” was introduced by the English philosopher J. Locke, whose position was developed by the French philosopher Montesquieu. In the 18th and the 19th centuries the person vested with the executive power was the monarch and the administrative machinery was subordinated to him. In contemporary bourgeois states, executive power formally belongs to the government. In countries with parliamentary forms of government (parliamentary monarchy, parliamentary republic), exexutive power, according to the constitution, belongs to the head of state (president, monarch) and to the government, headed by the prime minister. In reality, however, the rights of the head of state in the area of executive power are exercised in his name by the government. In the so-called presidential republics, the head of state and the government is one and the same person—the president, who is legally considered the sole holder of the executive power.
According to bourgeois constitutional theories, the sole function of executive power is the execution of the laws adopted by the authority of the legislative power—the parliament. During premonopoly capitalism the theory of parliamentarism was dominant; its main principle was the political responsibility of the body of the executive power (the government) to the parliament. During the era of imperialism, a crisis of bourgeois parliamentarism took place, manifested by the narrowing of parliamentary power and the strengthening of executive power; in fact, the bourgeois state controls and directs the activity of the parliament: the bourgeois state not only determines the basic policy of legislative and other activities but also legislates itself by way of so-called delegated legislation.
The separation of powers and their opposition to the executive power are unknown to the state law of socialist countries, where the principle of a single state power is in force; this state power belongs to the working people through their elected representative bodies. The government formed by these bodies is the executive and administrative body of state power.