Caretaker government is a type of government that rules temporarily.
Caretaker governments may be put in place when a government in a parliamentary system is defeated in a motion of no confidence, or in the case when the house to which the government is responsible is dissolved, to rule the country for an interim period until an election is held and a new government is formed. In this sense, in some countries which use a Westminster system of government, the caretaker government is usually simply the incumbent government, which continues to operate in the interim period between the normal dissolution of parliament for the purpose of holding an election and the formation of a new government after the election results are known. Unlike in ordinary times, the caretaker government's activities are limited by custom and convention. In Bangladesh, an advisor council led by the former chief judge rules the country for three months before an elected government takes over.
In systems where coalition governments are frequent a caretaker government may be installed temporarily while negotiations to form a new coalition take place. This usually occurs either immediately after an election in which there is no clear victor or if one coalition government collapses and a new one must be negotiated.1 Caretaker governments are expected to handle daily issues and prepare budgets for discussion, but are not expected to produce a government platform or introduce controversial bills.
Many countries are administered by a caretaker government during election periods, such as:
- Caretaker government of Australia
- Caretaker government of Bangladesh
- Demissionary cabinet, a Dutch care taker cabinet.
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Heads of caretaker governments are often referred to as a "caretaker" head, for example "caretaker prime minister".
Similarly, but chiefly in the United States, caretakers are individuals who fill seats in government temporarily without ambitions to continue to hold office on their own. This is particularly true with regard to United States Senators who are appointed to office by the Governor of their state following a vacancy created by the death or resignation of a sitting senator. Sometimes governors wish to run for the seat themselves in the next election but do not want to be accused of unfairness by appointing themselves in the interim. Also, sometimes they do not wish to be seen as taking sides within a group of party factions or prejudicing of a primary election by picking someone who is apt to become an active candidate for the position. At one time, widows of politicians were often selected as caretakers to succeed their late husbands; this custom is rarely exercised today, as it could be viewed by some as nepotism.
In a similar vein, Nelson Rockefeller was said to be a caretaker Vice President of the United States (1974–1977). He was nominated for the office by President Gerald Ford, who had succeeded the resigned President Richard Nixon. Rockefeller made it apparent that he had no further presidential ambitions of his own (unlike many Vice Presidents), despite having run for the office three times in the past, and he had no intention of even running for a full term in the vice presidential office. He followed through on his intention when Ford's running mate in the 1976 presidential election was Senator Bob Dole.
The following is a list of individuals who have been considered caretaker (or provisional or interim) heads of state or heads of government:
- José Linhares (Brazil)
- Pascoal Ranieri Mazzilli (Brazil)
- Alain Poher (France, especially second term)
- Émile Jonassaint (Haiti)
- Eduardo Rodríguez (Bolivia)
- Eduardo Duhalde (Argentina)
- Kgalema Motlanthe (South Africa)2
- Wasim Sajjad (Pakistan)3
- Muhammad Mian Soomro ( Pakistan)4
- Marin Raykov, Bulgaria
- Hashim Thaci (Kosovo, first term)
- Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (United Kingdom, second term)
- Vincent Auriol (France)
- Waldemar Pawlak (Poland, first term)
- Malik Meraj Khalid (Pakistan)
- Moeenuddin Ahmad Qureshi (Pakistan)
- Balakh Sher Mazari (Pakistan)
- Malcolm Fraser (Australia, first term only)
- Jean Kambanda (Rwanda)
- Najib Razak (Malaysia)
- Mehdi Bazargan (Iran)
- Mohammad-Reza Mahdavi Kani (Iran)
- Muhammad Mian Soomro (Pakistan)
- Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi (Pakistan)
- Yves Leterme (Belgium)
- Madhav Kumar Nepal (Nepal)
- Mir Hazar Khan Khoso (Pakistan)
- Banglapedia: Caretaker Government
- Motlanthe: South Africa's safe hands BBC News, 25 September 2008
- "Profile of Mr. Wasim Sajjad". Story of Pakistan. 1 June 2003. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- "Soomro takes over as Pak President". Press Trust of India. 18 August 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2013.