An acting Prime Minister is a cabinet member (often in Westminster system countries) who is serving in the role of Prime Minister, whilst the individual who normally holds the position is unable to do so. The role is often performed by the Deputy Prime Minister (where that position exists), or by another senior Minister.
The office is commonly used when the Prime Minister is absent from the territory of that nation, when the Prime Minister is in ill health or, on maternity leave.
An acting Prime Minister should be distinguished from a caretaker Prime Minister, which refers to an outgoing Prime Minister following an electoral defeat, and who by convention does not implement new policies or an interim Prime Minister who is appointed to perform a similar role to a caretaker Prime Minister, but who is typically not a Prime Minister at the time of being appointed.
Within a Commonwealth nation, the office of Acting Prime Minister, like that of Prime Minister is found only in convention, and is not legislated. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, or an equivalent ministry, drafts, reviews and publishes any formal conventions (though these are expressly non binding in a court of law).
According to House of Representatives Practice, an official publication of the Parliament of Australia, the Prime Minister of Australia "may make temporary ministerial arrangements without reference to the Governor-General. A Minister may act for another Minister on account of absence from Australia or from the Ministry or due to ill health. The Acts Interpretation Act confers upon an Acting Minister the same power and authority with respect to the absent Minister's statutory responsibilities."
The position of acting Prime Minister is a special case of an acting Minister, and generally occurs when the Prime Minister is travelling overseas, is on vacation, or is in ill health. In the early 20th century, when travel by ship was still the norm, it was not uncommon for there to be an acting Prime Minister for months on end.
The deputy Prime Minister is usually designated as the acting Prime Minister, although another senior member of the government may fill the role if both the Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister are unavailable. An acting Prime Minister is required quite frequently – for instance, between 3 December 2007 and 23 February 2009 (during Kevin Rudd's first term), Julia Gillard acted as Prime Minister on 16 separate occasions.
The term acting Prime Minister is sometimes also applied to someone who is temporarily appointed Prime Minister following a death in office (more commonly called a caretaker Prime Minister or an interim Prime Minister). Examples include Frank Forde (seven days following John Curtin's death), Earle Page (19 days following Joseph Lyons' death), and John McEwen (22 days following Harold Holt's disappearance).
Unlike those who merely acted in the absence of a Prime Minister, Forde, Lyons, Page and McEwen were officially commissioned by the Governor General and took the oath of office; they are considered Prime Ministers in their own right.
In Canada, the Deputy Prime Minister—a position that is not always in use—becomes acting head of government in the event that the Prime Minister is absent from Canada or incapacitated. Prior to the creation of this position, there was one notable and brief appointment made by a Canadian Prime Minister. In February 1958, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker appointed Ellen Fairclough as acting Prime Minister for two days while he was absent from Canada.
The designated Acting Prime Minister takes the role of Prime Minister as Acting Prime Minister, for up to one hundred consecutive days, if the incumbent is temporarily incapacitated. Whilst in other countries the term "Acting Prime Minister" only refers to an individual actually performing the role, in Israel the term is also in use when a designated Minister is allocated, even if they never actually perform the role.
In New Zealand, the Acting Prime Minister is the designated head of government when the incumbent is not available to fulfill their duties. This includes when the Prime Minister is overseas, unwell, or otherwise temporarily unavailable. Typically this position is filled by the Deputy Prime Minister. Hugh Watt, who was then the Deputy Prime Minister, served as Acting Prime Minister for six days, after Norman Kirk died in office in 1974.
Prior to the establishment of the Deputy Prime Minister role, a senior Minister would be appointed to act as Prime Minister when, for example, the incumbent was travelling overseas. In the current era, when both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are unavailable, the next highest ranking minister who is available will be asked to act as Prime Minister, until a colleague of higher rank is available again.
In law, when someone is said to be acting in a position it can mean that, the position has not yet been formally created, the person is only occupying the position temporarily to ensure continuity, or the person does not have a mandate.
Examples of acting positions include:
Acting prime minister
Acting President of the United States
Acting President of Israel
Acting President of Pakistan
Acting President of PolandIn the United States, the rules for appointment of acting officials are covered in many cases by the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998.Cabinet of Israel
The Government of Israel (officially: Hebrew: ממשלת ישראל Memshelet Yisrael) exercises executive authority in the State of Israel. It consists of ministers who are chosen and led by the prime minister. The composition of the government must be approved by a vote of confidence in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament). Under Israeli law, the prime minister may dismiss members of the government, but must do so in writing, and new appointees must be approved by the Knesset. Most ministers lead ministries, though some are ministers without portfolio. Most ministers are members of the Knesset, though only the Prime Minister and the "designated acting prime minister" are required to be Knesset members. Some ministers are also called deputy and vice prime ministers. Unlike the designated acting prime minister, these roles have no statutory meanings. The government operates in accordance with the Basic Law. It meets on Sundays weekly in Jerusalem. There may be additional meetings if circumstances require it. The prime minister convenes these meetings.Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
Deputy Prime Minister of Canada (French: Vice-premier ministre du Canada) is an honorary position in the Cabinet, conferred at the discretion of the prime minister. Since 2006, there has been no deputy prime minister.
The deputy prime minister should not be confused with the position of the Clerk of the Privy Council, who is effectively deputy minister to the prime minister. Like other deputy minister positions, the Clerk is a public servant and not a minister of the Crown.Deputy leaders of Israel
Deputy leaders in Israel fall into three categories: Acting Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and Vice Prime Minister. Deputy Prime Minister and Vice Prime Minister are honorary rather than official executive positions, but entitle the office-holder to a place in the cabinet.
Acting Prime Ministers take the place of the Prime Minister if he or she is temporarily incapacitated, while the incumbent is still in office.
If the Prime Minister is removed by impeachment, dies, or becomes permanently incapacitated, the cabinet appoints an Interim Prime Minister to serve until a new government is formed.Deputy prime minister
A deputy prime minister or vice prime minister is, in some countries, a government minister who can take the position of acting prime minister when the prime minister is temporarily absent. The position is often likened to that of a vice president, but is significantly different even though both positions are "number two" offices. The position of deputy prime minister should not be confused with the Canadian Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister of Canada, a nonpolitical civil servant position. Also, the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada does not act as a "number two".
The states of Australia and provinces of Canada each have the analogous office of deputy premier. In the devolved administrations of the United Kingdom, an analogous position is that of the deputy first minister but the position in Northern Ireland has the same powers as the First Minister.
A deputy prime minister traditionally serves as acting prime minister when the real prime minister is temporarily absent or incapable of exercising his/her power. The deputy prime minister is often asked to succeed to the prime minister's office following the prime minister's sudden death or unexpected resignation, but that is not necessarily mandated by the constitution. This government position is often a job that is held simultaneously with another ministry, and is usually given to one of the most senior or fairly experienced ministers of the cabinet. The holder of this office may also be deputy leader of the governing party, or perhaps even as leader of the junior party of a coalition government.
Little scholarly attention has focused on deputy prime ministers due to their nature as being less involved in the political power plays of government and more focus on the work at hand. A 2009 study in Political Science identified nine 'qualities' of deputy prime ministership: temperament; relationships with their Cabinet and caucus; relationships with their party; popularity with the public; media skills; achievements as deputy prime minister; relationship with the prime minister; leadership ambition; and method of succession.By contrast, the structure of the Government of Russia and Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine foresees the positions of several deputy prime ministers or vice prime ministers. In the case of the Russian government, the Prime Minister is responsible for defining the scope of the duties for each of his or her deputies, who also may head a specific ministry - e.g. the former Minister of Finance of Russia, Alexey Kudrin also serves as one of the deputies of the prime ministers or vice-premiers. One or two of these deputy prime ministers may hold the title of a First Deputy Prime Minister. The Russian federal law indicates that in accordance with the order established in advance, one of the deputy prime ministers may temporarily substitute for the Prime Minister in his or her absence. Customarily, however, it is to one of the "First" Deputy Prime Ministers that the prime-ministerial duties may be delegated. At the same time, in the case of Prime Minister's resignation, the law allows the President of Russia to choose any of the current vice-premiers to serve as an acting Prime Minister until the confirmation of the new government.List of Prime Ministers of Benin
This is a list of Prime Ministers of Benin (formerly Dahomey) since the formation of the post of Prime Minister in 1960, to its abolition in 2016.
A total of six people have served as Prime Minister (not counting one Acting Prime Minister).List of Prime Ministers of Chad
This is a list of Prime Ministers of Chad since the formation of the post of Prime Minister of Chad in 1978 to the present day.
A total of seventeen people have served as Prime Minister of Chad (not counting one Acting Prime Minister). Additionally, one person, Delwa Kassiré Koumakoye, has served on two non-consecutive occasions.
The current Prime Minister of Chad is Albert Pahimi Padacké, since 15 February 2016.List of Prime Ministers of Romania
This is a list of the heads of government of the modern Romanian state, from the establishment of the United Principalities to the present day.List of heads of government of Algeria
This is a list of heads of government of Algeria since the formation of the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (GPRA) in exile in Cairo, Egypt in 1958 during the Algerian War, through independence in 1962, to the present day.
A total of fifteen people have served as Prime Minister of Algeria (not counting two Presidents of the GPRA and one Acting Prime Minister). Additionally, one person, Ahmed Ouyahia, has served on three non-consecutive occasions.List of state leaders in the 20th century (1951–2000)
State leaders: 1901–1950 – State leaders in the 21st century – State leaders by yearThis is a list of state leaders in the 20th century (1951–2000) AD, such as the heads of state, heads of government, and the general secretaries of single-party states.
These polities are generally sovereign states, including states with limited recognition (when recognised by at least one UN member state), but excludes minor dependent territories, whose leaders can be found listed under territorial governors in the 20th century. For completeness, these lists can include colonies, protectorates, or other dependent territories that have since gained sovereignty.List of state leaders in the 21st century
State leaders: 1951–2000 – Current state leaders – State leaders by yearThis is a list of state leaders in the 21st century (2001–present) AD, such as the heads of state, heads of government, or the general secretaries of single-party states.
These polities are generally sovereign states, including states with limited recognition (when recognised by at least one UN member state), but excludes minor dependent territories, whose leaders can be found listed under territorial governors in the 21st century. For completeness, these lists can include colonies, protectorates, or other dependent territories that have since gained sovereignty.Prime Minister of Abkhazia
The Prime Minister of Abkhazia is the head of government of the Republic of Abkhazia.Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan
The Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan is the head of government of Kyrgyzstan. Until 2010, the President was in a stronger position than the Prime Minister in Kyrgyzstan, but after the 2010 constitutional referendum, the state transitioned to a parliamentary system, placing greater power in parliament and the cabinet at the expense of the president.
The president is allowed to appoint the Prime Minister temporarily, and his appointment is known as the acting Prime Minister. The acting Prime Minister becomes a full Prime Minister by being confirmed by the Supreme Council (parliament). The Prime Minister then forms the cabinet.Prime Minister of Malaysia
The Prime Minister of Malaysia (Malay: Perdana Menteri Malaysia) is the head of government and the highest political office in Malaysia. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints Prime Minister as a Member of Parliament (MP) who, in his opinion, is most likely to command the confidence of a majority of MPs. The Prime Minister chairs the Cabinet of Malaysia, the de facto executive branch of government. On 18 October 2018, 7th Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, announced a two-term limit (10 years Max) to all Cabinet Profolio.
After the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya, became Prime Minister of Malaysia. From independence until the 2018 general election, the Prime Minister had always been from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party of Barisan Nasional (previously Alliance). Following a general election, Mahathir Mohamad took office on 10 May 2018, as the first Prime Minister of the opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH). Mahathir is the first Prime Minister not to represent the Alliance/Barisan Nasional coalition. He is also the first Malaysian Prime Minister to serve from two different parties and on non-consecutive terms.
Mahathir and the PH coalition have confirmed that, after a period of around 2 years, People's Justice Party (PKR) leader Anwar Ibrahim will take over as Prime Minister. On 11 June 2018, Mahathir said he's prepared to stay as Prime Minister for more than two years if that is what members of the public wants.Prime Minister of Moldova
The Prime Minister of Moldova is Moldova's head of government. The Prime Minister is formally appointed by the President and exercises executive power along with the cabinet subject to parliamentary support.Prime Minister of South Ossetia
The Prime Minister of the Republic of South Ossetia is the de facto head of government of the partially recognized Republic of South Ossetia that is de jure part of Georgia. This is a list of the de facto prime ministers of the Republic of South Ossetia.Prime Minister of Transnistria
The Prime Minister of Transnistria is the head of government of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic.Sam Abal
Samuel Tei "Sam" Abal (born 26 June 1958) is a Papua New Guinean politician. Abal, who previously served as Foreign Minister from August 2007 to December 2010, became the Deputy Prime Minister of the country in a cabinet reshuffle by Michael Somare on 7 December 2010. He further became acting Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea on 13 December 2010, when Prime Minister Somare stepped down from office to face a tribunal regarding allegations of financial mismanagement. His tenure as acting Prime Minister ended on 2 August 2011, when Peter O'Neill won a parliamentary vote to be appointed as Prime Minister.Sorin Cîmpeanu
Sorin Mihai Cîmpeanu (Romanian pronunciation: [soˈrin miˈhaj kɨmˈpe̯anu]) is a Romanian politician, former Minister of Education in Ponta IV cabinet and, between 5 and 17 November 2015, acting Prime Minister of Romania, after President Klaus Iohannis accepted Prime Minister Ponta's resignation. Klaus Iohannis's appointment of Sorin Cîmpeanu was just a stopgap measure until a new candidate for the post was selected.