Cabinet shuffle
In the parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 a cabinet shuffle or reshuffle is an informal term for an event that occurs when a head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 rotates or changes the composition of ministers in their cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...


Commonly, a cabinet shuffle refers to certain ministers being shifted from one portfolio to another. Cabinet shuffles happen periodically as moving ministers is often necessary to replace ministers who have resigned or retired. Forming cabinets is also one of the most important ways for a head of government to reward or punish supporters, a practice that leads to shuffles whenever a new faction within a party takes over. It is common after elections, even if the party in power is retained, as the prime minister's reading of public opinion as evidenced by the election may require some change in policy, in addition to any changes resulting in the retirement and (occasionally) outright electoral defeat of some former ministers. Furthermore, when a new prime minister enters office from the same party as the previous one, he or she might not re-appoint all of the same Cabinet Ministers as the previous leader had appointed, preferring to reflect his or her own policies; an example is Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

's government, formed in 2007 after the departure of Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...


Cabinet shuffles are far less common in systems where members of the Cabinet are not drawn from the legislative branch. In such systems, there is a far larger pool of viable candidates to choose a cabinet from. Members of such cabinets are usually chosen on account of their qualifications to run a specific portfolio, so moving these cabinet member different portfolios at a later time usually makes little sense. For instance, in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, it would be very unusual for a president to reassign all the cabinet secretaries
Cabinet Secretary
A Cabinet Secretary is almost always a senior official who provides services and advice to a Cabinet of Ministers. In many countries, the position can have considerably wider functions and powers, including general responsibility for the entire civil service...

 to new positions, especially since a United States Cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

 member moved to a new position needs to be confirmed in the new portfolio 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...

 - this alone is seen as a powerful deterrent against U.S. presidents initiating major cabinet shuffles. On an individual basis however, United States Cabinet members will occasionally change portfolios - for example, Norman Mineta
Norman Mineta
Norman Yoshio Mineta, is a United States politician of the Democratic Party. Mineta most recently served in President George W. Bush's Cabinet as the United States Secretary of Transportation, the only Democratic Cabinet Secretary in the Bush administration...

 previously served as Secretary of Commerce before being moved to Secretary of Transportation
United States Secretary of Transportation
The United States Secretary of Transportation is the head of the United States Department of Transportation, a member of the President's Cabinet, and fourteenth in the Presidential line of succession. The post was created with the formation of the Department of Transportation on October 15, 1966,...


See also

  • Night of the Long Knives (1962)
    Night of the Long Knives (1962)
    The epithet Night of the Long Knives is given to July 13, 1962, when the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan sacked the following members of his Cabinet:*Lord Kilmuir — Lord Chancellor*Selwyn Lloyd — Chancellor of the Exchequer...

  • 2006 United Kingdom Cabinet reshuffle
  • List of people who have held multiple United States Cabinet-level positions
  • Musical chairs
    Musical chairs
    Musical chairs is a game played by a group of people , often in an informal setting purely for entertainment such as a birthday party...

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