majority party, British monarch, Constitutional convention, national elections, assent
New Zealand recognizes the British monarch as its sovereign, or formal head of state. The monarch is represented in New Zealand by a governor-general. This official is appointed by the monarch on the prime ministerís recommendation to a five-year term. After national elections, the governor-general appoints the leader of the majority party in the legislature as prime minister and arranges for the prime minister to form a government, or cabinet of ministers. The governor-general formally appoints the ministers on the prime ministerís recommendation. The governor-general must also give assent for parliamentary bills to become law. These duties are mostly ceremonial, and the governor-general exercises little real power in New Zealand.
The prime minister heads the cabinet, which is the highest policy-making body of government. The cabinet is responsible for the day-to-day administration of government, and ministers have responsibility for specific areas of policy. Ministers also convene in the Executive Council, a body that advises the governor-general. Constitutional convention requires the governor-general to follow the councilís recommendations.
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