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In most democratic countries (particuarly those with a Westminster political tradition), a government is considered to be the caretaker immediately upon declaring an election. In that period, until they or a new government is sworn in, they remain in control of the day to day running of the country. However by convention they generally do not release major policy initiatives, make senior appointments or govern in a way likely to sway the results of an election.

A caretaker government has these limited powers to prevent it governing beyond its mandate, since the country's legislative body that presses for accountability would have been dissolved. And it would not be clever to allow governments to initiate policies if they are not going to be around in eight weeks. The public service is also required to give support to the Leader of the Opposition so that it can compete equally with the incumbent government.

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