Acting (law)
In law, when someone is said to be acting in a position it can mean one of three things.
  • The position has not yet been formally created.
  • The person is only occupying the position temporarily, to ensure continuity.
  • The person does not have a mandate
    Mandate (politics)
    In politics, a mandate is the authority granted by a constituency to act as its representative.The concept of a government having a legitimate mandate to govern via the fair winning of a democratic election is a central idea of democracy...


The term "acting" is often used in one of these senses to refer to a temporary occupant of an office in government. An "acting" official holds office to ensure both the stability and continuity of his department will continue despite the absence of a formal leader.

For example, if the U.S. Secretary of Defense
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

 died suddenly in office, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense
United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
The Deputy Secretary of Defense is the second-highest ranking official in the Department of Defense of the United States of America. The Deputy Secretary of Defense is appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate...

 would take over. However, he would only be "acting" in the position, as he/she will not formally hold the office unless he/she is nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, as required by the Constitution.

Acting officials typically play a caretaker role while acting, as it is usually considered questionable for someone to exercise full authority in a very activist way without having been specifically hired or elected to the office.

Acting for has the same basic meaning as "acting", except it indicates that the original occupant of the position still formally holds power.

For example, in 2006 when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006....

 had a severe stroke, Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, as a Cabinet Minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003....

 assumed power on the basis that he was "acting for" the incapacitated Sharon. Sharon was still formally the nation's leader, as he had not died or resigned, but Olmert was executing the powers of the office.

See also

  • Acting President of the United States
    Acting President of the United States
    Acting President of the United States is a reference to a person who is legitimately exercising the Presidential powers even though that person does not hold the office of the President of the United States in his own right....

  • Acting Vice President of the United States
  • Acting president
    Acting president
    An Acting President is a person who temporarily fills the role of an organization's or country's president, either when the real president is unavailable or when the post is vacant .-See also:*Acting *Acting President of Pakistan*Acting President of Malta*Acting President of...

  • Acting governor
    Acting governor
    An acting governor is a constitutional position created in some U.S. states when the governor dies in office or resigns. In some states, the governor may also be declared to be incapacitated and unable to function for various reasons, including illness and absence from the state for more than a...

  • Acting Mayor
    Acting Mayor
    Acting mayor is a temporary office created by the charter of some municipal governments.-History:In many cities and towns, the charter or some similar fundamental document provides that in the event of the death, resignation, or removal from office of the mayor, another official will lead the...

  • Interim leader
    Interim leader
    An interim leader, in Canadian politics, is a party leader appointed by the party's legislative caucus or the party's executive to temporarily act as leader when a gap occurs between the resignation or death of a party leader and the election of a formal successor...

  • Acting Prime Minister
    Acting Prime Minister
    An acting Prime Minister is a Cabinet member who is serving the role of prime minister, whilst the individual who normally holds the position in unable or unwilling to do so. The role of Acting Prime Minister is often performed by the Deputy Prime Minister...

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