In my understanding, the principle of cabinet collective responsibility seems to dictate that the cabinet not only has to make joint decisions (if ministers disagree with current policy they must resign) but also that they can only be removed as a collective body.

This raises interesting questions regarding countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Finland where they claim to have cabinet collective responsibility, yet their parliament can remove ministers individually.

My understanding is that if the parliament can remove individual minsiters, then the mechanical apect of the rule seems to suggest that ministers are still individually responsible to their own actions.

Question: Is there an inherent condratiction between the principle of cabinet collective responsibility and allowing parliament to remove individual ministers?

  • 1
    The article you link says collective responsibility applies to "governmental decisions made in Cabinet". Not to literally every decision a minister makes, from how to run their department to who to sleep with.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 8, 2022 at 9:49

1 Answer 1


I think you have the fundamentals of the doctrine the wrong way round, the idea isn't that ministers can only be removed as a single body, but that if the government falls (especially if the Premier is removed in those states where they select the cabinet), then all ministers must resign and hope to be reappointed, rather than just continuing in their own fiefdom. Ministers are still judged on the performance of their own departments, and still decide on policy decisions below those made on cabinet level. Allowing a parliament the power to force a Minister leading an underperforming department to stand down isn't incompatible with this.

As an aside, at least in the versions I'm used to, a minister only needs to resign if they wish to publicly disagree with government policy. Away from the cameras, the cabinet can disagree as much as they want, so long as they abide by collective decisions once they are made.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .