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A presidential system, or single executive system, is a
form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department ...
in which a
head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presi ...
(
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...
) leads an
executive branch The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, a ...
that is separate from the
legislative branch A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the body of ethics, Procedural law, rules, and Norm (sociology) ...
in systems that use
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ( ...
. This head of government is in most cases also the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
. In presidential countries, the head of government is
elected
elected
and is not responsible to the legislature, which cannot (usually) in normal circumstances dismiss the president. Such dismissal is possible, however, in uncommon cases, often through
impeachment Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
. The title "
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...
" has persisted from a time when such a person personally presided over the governing body, as with the
President of the Continental Congress The president of the Continental Congress, later known as the president of the Congress of the Confederation, was the presiding officer of the Continental Congress, the convention of delegates that emerged as the first ( transitional) national go ...
in the early United States, prior to the executive function being split into a separate branch of government. A presidential system contrasts with a
parliamentary system A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' an ...
, where the head of government comes to power by gaining the confidence of an elected
legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure i ...
. There are also hybrid systems such as the
semi-presidential system A semi-presidential system, or dual executive system, is a system of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, g ...
, used in the former
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933 when it functioned as a federal constitutional republic. The state was officially named the German Reich (german: Deutsches Reich, link=no, label=none), ...
,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...
, and
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in . It is divided into 16 , covering an area of , and has a largely climate. Poland has a population of nearly 38.5 million people, and is the fifth-most populous . ...

Poland
. Countries that feature a presidential or semi-presidential system of government are not the exclusive users of the title of president. Heads of state of
parliamentary republicThe Parliamentary Republic can refer to: * A republican form of government with a Parliamentary system A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democracy, democratic government, governance of a sovereign state, state (o ...
s, largely ceremonial in most cases, are called presidents.
Dictator A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the c ...
s or leaders of
one-party state A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. ...
s, whether popularly elected or not, are also often called presidents. Presidentialism is the dominant form of government in the mainland
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to East and West. ''North'' ...

Americas
, with 19 of its 22 sovereign states being presidential republics, the exceptions being
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and northward into the Arctic Oce ...
,
Belize Belize () is a Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label=Antillean Creole, Kawayib; nl, Caraïben; Papiamento: ) is a region of the Americas that comprises the Caribbean Sea, its surroundi ...
, and
Suriname Suriname (, sometimes spelled Surinam), officially known as the Republic of Suriname ( nl, Republiek Suriname ), is a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America. Borders of Suriname, It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the ...
. It is also prevalent in
Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...

Central
and southern
West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as well as .Paul R. Masson, Catherine Anne Pattillo, "Monetary union in West Africa (ECOWAS): is i ...

West Africa
and in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area ...

Central Asia
. By contrast, there are very few presidential republics in Europe, with
Belarus , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Minsk Minsk ( be, Мінск , russian: link=no, Минск) is the capital and the largest city of Belarus, located on the Svislach (Berezina), Svislach and the now subterranean Nyamiha, Niam ...
and
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...
being the only examples. Oceania is the only continent that has no presidential republics.


History


Characteristics

In a full-fledged presidential system, a politician is chosen directly by the public or indirectly by the winning party to be the
head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presi ...
. The
President of Cyprus The president of Cyprus is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodiment of the State itself o ...
has the roles of head of state and government combined, making Cyprus the only EU state with a full presidential system of government. The following characteristics apply generally for the numerous presidential governments across the world: * The executive can
veto A veto (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Re ...
legislative acts and, in turn, a
supermajority A supermajority, supra-majority, qualified majority, or special majority is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level of support which is greater than the threshold of more than one-half used for a majority A majority, also calle ...
of lawmakers may override the veto. The veto is generally derived from the
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...

British
tradition of royal assent in which an act of parliament can only be enacted with the assent of the
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...
. * The president has a fixed term of office. Elections are held at regular times and cannot be triggered by a
vote of confidence A motion of no confidence, vote of no confidence, or no confidence motion, sometimes in the reverse as a motion of confidence or vote of confidence, is a statement or vote Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate E ...

vote of confidence
or other parliamentary procedures, although in some countries there is an exception which provides for the removal of a president who is found to have broken a law. * The executive branch is unipersonal. Members of the
cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
serve at the pleasure of the president and must carry out the policies of the executive and legislative branches. The president, and often cabinet members, are not members of the legislature. However, presidential systems often need legislative approval of executive nominations to the cabinet,
judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government i ...
, and various lower governmental posts. A president generally can direct members of the cabinet, military, or any officer or employee of the executive branch, but cannot direct or dismiss judges. * The president can often
pardon A pardon is a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislat ...

pardon
or commute sentences of convicted criminals, though this is by no means exclusive to the presidential system.


Subnational governments of the world

Subnational governments, usually states, may be structured as presidential systems. All of the state governments in the United States use the presidential system, even though this is not constitutionally required. On a local level, many cities use council-manager government, which is equivalent to a parliamentary system, although the post of a
city manager A city manager is an official appointed as the administrative Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization, whether it is a business, a not-for- ...
is normally a non-political position. Some countries without a presidential system at the national level use a form of this system at a subnational or local level. One example is
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
, where the national government uses the parliamentary system, but the
prefectural
prefectural
and municipal governments have governors and mayors elected independently from local assemblies and councils.


Advantages

Supporters generally claim four basic advantages for presidential systems: * Direct elections — in a presidential system, the president is often elected directly by the people. This makes the president's power appear to some as being more legitimate than that of a leader appointed indirectly. However, this is not a necessary feature of a presidential system. Some presidential states have an indirectly elected head of state. * Separation of powers — a presidential system establishes the presidency and the legislature as two parallel structures. This allows each structure to monitor and check the other, preventing abuses of power. * Speed and decisiveness — A system of checks and balances can control abuses of power by the president, but it can also hinder action in matters that require it. * Stability — a president, by virtue of a fixed term, may provide more stability than a prime minister, who can be dismissed at any time.


Direct elections

In most presidential systems, the president is elected by popular vote, although some such as the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
use an
electoral college An electoral college is a set of Voting, electors who are selected to elect a candidate to particular offices. Often these represent different organizations, political parties or Legal entity, entities, with each organization, political party or ...

electoral college
or some other method. By this method, the president receives a personal mandate to lead the country, whereas in a parliamentary system a candidate might only receive a personal mandate to represent a constituency. That means a president can only be elected independently of the legislative branch.


Separation of powers

A presidential system's separation of the executive from the legislature is sometimes held up as an advantage, in that each branch may scrutinize the actions of the other. In a parliamentary system, the executive is drawn from the legislature, making criticism of one by the other considerably less likely. A formal condemnation of the executive by the legislature is often considered a
vote of no confidence A motion of no confidence, vote of no confidence, or no confidence motion, sometimes in the reverse as a motion of confidence or vote of confidence, is a statement or vote about whether a person in a position of responsibility (government, manager ...
. According to supporters of the presidential system, the lack of checks and balances means that misconduct by a prime minister may never be discovered. Writing about
Watergate The Watergate scandal was a major involving the of U.S. President from 1972 to 1974 that led to Nixon's resignation. The scandal stemmed from the Nixon administration's continual attempts to cover up its involvement in the June 17, 1972 br ...
,
Woodrow Wyatt Woodrow Lyle Wyatt, Baron Wyatt of Weeford (4 July 1918 – 7 December 1997) was a British politician, author, journalist A journalist is an individual trained to collect/gather information in form of text, audio or pictures, processes them to ...
, a former MP in the UK, said "don't think a Watergate couldn't happen here, you just wouldn't hear about it." (ibid) Critics respond that if a presidential system's legislature is controlled by the president's party, the same situation exists. Proponents such as political scientists note that even in such a situation a legislator from the president's party is in a better position to criticize the president or his policies should he deem it necessary, since the immediate security of the president's position is less dependent on legislative support. In parliamentary systems,
party discipline Party discipline is the ability of parliamentary members of a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's elections. It is common for the members of a political party to have sim ...
is much more strictly enforced. If a parliamentary
backbencher In Westminster parliamentary systems, a backbencher is a member of parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency. In many countries with Bicameralism, bicameral parliaments, this ...
publicly criticizes the executive or its policies to any significant extent then he/she faces a much higher prospect of losing his/her party's nomination, or even outright expulsion from the party. Even mild criticism from a backbencher could carry consequences serious enough (in particular, removal from consideration for a cabinet post) to effectively muzzle a legislator with any serious political ambitions. Despite the existence of the no confidence vote, in practice it is extremely difficult to stop a prime minister or cabinet that has made its decision. In a parliamentary system, if important legislation proposed by the incumbent prime minister and his cabinet is "voted down" by a majority of the members of parliament then it is considered a vote of no confidence. To emphasize that particular point, a prime minister will often declare a particular legislative vote to be a matter of confidence at the first sign of reluctance on the part of legislators from his or her own party. If a government loses a parliamentary vote of confidence, then the incumbent government must then either resign or call elections to be held, a consequence few backbenchers are willing to endure. Hence, a no confidence vote in some parliamentary countries, like Britain, only occurs a few times in a century. In 1931,
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
told a select committee: "Parliament has really no control over the executive; it is a pure fiction." (Schlesinger 1982) By contrast, if a presidential legislative initiative fails to pass a legislature controlled by the president's party (e.g. the
Clinton health care plan of 1993 The Clinton health care plan was a 1993 healthcare reform package proposed by the administration of President Bill Clinton William Jefferson Clinton (''Birth name, né'' Blythe III; born August 19, 1946) is an American politician and at ...
in the United States), it may damage the president's political standing and that of his party, but generally has no immediate effect on whether or not the president completes his term.


Speed and decisiveness

It is believed that presidential systems can respond more rapidly to emerging situations than parliamentary ones. A prime minister, when taking action, needs to retain the support of the legislature, but a president is often less constrained. In ''
Why England Slept First edition (publ. Wilfred Funk) ''Why England Slept'' is the published version of a thesis written by John F. Kennedy in his senior year at Harvard College. Its title is an allusion to Winston Churchill's 1938 book ''While England Slept'', whic ...
'', future U.S. president
John F. Kennedy John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the ...

John F. Kennedy
argued that British prime ministers
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and ...
and
Neville Chamberlain Arthur Neville Chamberlain (; 18 March 18699 November 1940) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1937 to 1940. He is best known for his foreign policy of appeasement, and in particular for his sig ...

Neville Chamberlain
were constrained by the need to maintain the confidence of the Commons. Other supporters of presidential systems sometimes argue in the exact opposite direction, however, saying that presidential systems can slow decision-making to beneficial ends. Divided government, where the presidency and the legislature are controlled by different parties, is said to restrain the excesses of both the coalition and opposition, and guarantee cross-partisan input into legislation. In the United States, Republican Congressman
Bill Frenzel William Eldridge Frenzel (July 31, 1928 – November 17, 2014) was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Minnesota, representing Minnesota's Third District, which included the southern and western suburbs of Min ...

Bill Frenzel
wrote in 1995:


Stability

Although most parliamentary governments go long periods of time without a no confidence vote,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italy
,
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
, and the
French Fourth Republic The French Fourth Republic (french: Quatrième république française) was the republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associ ...
have all experienced difficulties maintaining stability. When parliamentary systems have multiple parties, and governments are forced to rely on coalitions, as they often do in nations that use a system of
proportional representation#REDIRECT Proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical, and to ideolog ...

proportional representation
, extremist parties can theoretically use the threat of leaving a coalition to further their agendas. Many people consider presidential systems more able to survive emergencies. A country under enormous stress may, supporters argue, be better off being led by a president with a fixed term than rotating premierships. The fact that elections are fixed in a presidential system is considered by supporters a welcome "check" on the powers of the executive, contrasting parliamentary systems, which may allow the prime minister to call elections whenever they see fit or orchestrate their own vote of no confidence to trigger an election when they cannot get a legislative item passed. The presidential model is said to discourage this sort of opportunism, and instead forces the executive to operate within the confines of a term they cannot alter to suit their own needs. Proponents of the presidential system also argue that stability extends to the cabinets chosen under the system. In most parliamentary systems, cabinets must be drawn from within the legislative branch. Under the presidential system, cabinet members can be selected from a much larger pool of potential candidates. This allows presidents the ability to select cabinet members based as much or more on their ability and competency to lead a particular department as on their loyalty to the president, as opposed to parliamentary cabinets, which might be filled by legislators chosen for no better reason than their perceived loyalty to the prime minister. Supporters of the presidential system note that parliamentary systems are prone to disruptive "
cabinet shuffle A cabinet reshuffle or shuffle is when a head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, ...
s" where legislators are moved between portfolios, whereas in presidential system cabinets (such as the
United States Cabinet The Cabinet of the United States is a body consisting of the Vice President of the United States, vice president of the United States and the heads of the Federal government of the United States, executive branch's United States federal executiv ...
), cabinet shuffles are unusual.


Criticism and disadvantages

Critics generally claim three basic disadvantages for presidential systems: * Tendency towards authoritarianism – presidentialism raises the stakes of elections, exacerbates their polarization and can lead to authoritarianism (Linz). * Political gridlock – the separation of powers of a presidential system establishes the presidency and the legislature as two parallel structures. Critics argue that this can create an undesirable and long-term political gridlock whenever the president and the legislative majority are from different parties, which is common because the electorate usually expects more rapid results from new policies than are possible (Linz, Mainwaring and Shugart). In addition, this reduces accountability by allowing the president and the legislature to shift blame to each other. * Impediments to leadership change – presidential systems often make it difficult to remove a president from office early, for example after taking actions that become unpopular. A fourth criticism applies specifically to nations with a proportionally elected legislature and a presidency. Where the voters are virtually all represented by their votes in the proportional outcome, the presidency is elected on a winner-take-all basis. Two different electoral systems are therefore in play, potentially leading to conflicts that are based on the natural differences of the systems.


Tendency towards authoritarianism

Yale political scientist
Juan Linz ''Juan'' is a given name A given name (also known as a first name or forename) is the part of a quoted in that identifies a person, potentially with a as well, and differentiates that person from the other members of a group (typically a ...
argues that: Some political scientists say that presidential systems are not constitutionally stable and have difficulty sustaining democratic practices, noting that presidentialism has slipped into authoritarianism in many of the countries in which it has been implemented. According to political scientist Fred Riggs, presidentialism has fallen into authoritarianism in nearly every country it has been attempted. The list of the world's 22 older democracies includes only two countries (
Costa Rica Costa Rica (, ; ; literally "Rich Coast"), officially the Republic of Costa Rica ( es, República de Costa Rica), is a country in Central America Central America ( es, América Central, , ''Centroamérica'' ) is a region of the Amer ...

Costa Rica
and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
) with presidential systems. Dana D. Nelson, in her 2008 book '' Bad for Democracy'', sees the office of the President of the United States as essentially undemocratic and characterizes ''presidentialism'' as worship of the president by citizens, which she believes undermines civic participation.


Political gridlock

Some political scientists speak of the "failure of presidentialism" because the separation of powers of a presidential system often creates undesirable long-term political gridlock and instability whenever the president and the legislative majority are from different parties. This is common because the electorate often expects more rapid results than are possible from new policies and switches to a different party at the next election. Critics such as
Juan Linz ''Juan'' is a given name A given name (also known as a first name or forename) is the part of a quoted in that identifies a person, potentially with a as well, and differentiates that person from the other members of a group (typically a ...
, argue that this inherent political instability can cause democracies to fail, as seen in such cases as Brazil and Allende's Chile.


Lack of accountability

In such cases of gridlock, presidential systems are said by critics not to offer voters the kind of accountability seen in parliamentary systems. It is easy for either the president or the legislature to escape blame by shifting it to the other. Describing the United States, former Treasury Secretary
C. Douglas Dillon Clarence Douglas Dillon (born Clarence Douglass Dillon; August 21, 1909January 10, 2003) was an United States, American diplomat and politician, who served as U.S. Ambassador to France (1953–1957) and as the 57th United States Secretary of the Tr ...
said "the president blames Congress, the Congress blames the president, and the public remains confused and disgusted with government in Washington". Years before becoming president,
Woodrow Wilson Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856February 3, 1924) was an American politician and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of gove ...

Woodrow Wilson
(at the time, a fierce critic of the U.S. system of government) famously wrote "how is the schoolmaster, the nation, to know which boy needs the whipping?"Wilson, ''Congressional Government'' (1885), pp. 186–187.


Impediments to leadership change

Another alleged problem of presidentialism is that it is often difficult to remove a president from office early. Even if a president is "proved to be inefficient, even if he becomes unpopular, even if his policy is unacceptable to the majority of his countrymen, he and his methods must be endured until the moment comes for a new election". Since prime ministers in parliamentary systems must always retain the confidence of the legislature, in cases where a prime minister suddenly leaves office there is little point in anyone without a reasonable prospect of gaining that legislative confidence attempting to assume the premiership. This ensures that whenever a premiership becomes vacant (or is about to become vacant), legislators from the premier's party will always play a key role in determining the leader's permanent successor. In theory this could be interpreted to support an argument that a parliamentary party ought to have the power to elect their party leader directly, and indeed, at least historically, parliamentary system parties' leadership electoral procedures usually called for the party's legislative caucus to fill a leadership vacancy by electing a new leader directly by and from amongst themselves, and for the whole succession process to be completed within as short a time frame as practical. Today, however, such a system is not commonly practiced and most parliamentary system parties' rules provide for a leadership election in which the general membership of the party is permitted to vote at some point in the process (either directly for the new leader or for delegates who then elect the new leader in a convention), though in many cases the party's legislators are allowed to exercise a disproportionate influence in the final vote.
Walter Bagehot Walter Bagehot ( ; 3 February 1826 – 24 March 1877) was a British journalist, businessman, and essayist, who wrote extensively about government, economics, literature and race. He is known for co-founding the ''National Review ''Nati ...

Walter Bagehot
criticized presidentialism because it does not allow a transfer in power in the event of an emergency. However, supporters of the presidential system question the validity of the point. They argue that if presidents were not able to command some considerable level of security in their tenures, their direct mandates would be worthless. They further counter that republics such as the United States have successfully endured war and other crises without the need to change heads of state. Supporters argue that presidents elected in a time of peace and prosperity have proven themselves perfectly capable of responding effectively to a serious crisis, largely due to their ability to make the necessary appointments to the cabinet and elsewhere in government or by creating new positions to deal with new challenges. One prominent, recent example would be the appointment of a
Secretary of Homeland Security The United States secretary of homeland security is the head of the United States Department of Homeland Security The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for public sec ...
following the
September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks, also commonly referred to as 9/11, were a series of four coordinated by the militant terrorist group against the on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. On that morning, four commercial s traveling fro ...
in the United States. Some supporters of the presidential system counter that impediments to a leadership change, being that they are little more than an unavoidable consequence of the direct mandate afforded to a president, are thus a ''strength'' instead of a weakness in times of crisis. In such times, a prime minister might hesitate due to the need to keep parliament's support, whereas a president can act without fear of removal from office by those who might disapprove of his actions. Furthermore, even if a prime minister does manage to successfully resolve a crisis (or multiple crises), it does not guarantee that he or she will possess the political capital needed to remain in office for a similar, future crisis. Unlike what would be possible in a presidential system, a perceived crisis in the parliamentary system might give disgruntled backbenchers or rivals an opportunity to launch a vexing challenge for a prime minister's leadership. Finally, many political analysts have criticized presidential systems for their alleged slowness to respond to their citizens' needs. Often, the checks and balances make action difficult.
Walter Bagehot Walter Bagehot ( ; 3 February 1826 – 24 March 1877) was a British journalist, businessman, and essayist, who wrote extensively about government, economics, literature and race. He is known for co-founding the ''National Review ''Nati ...

Walter Bagehot
said of the American system, "the executive is crippled by not getting the law it needs, and the legislature is spoiled by having to act without responsibility: the executive becomes unfit for its name, since it cannot execute what it decides on; the legislature is demoralized by liberty, by taking decisions of others nd not itselfwill suffer the effects". British-Irish philosopher and MP
Edmund Burke Edmund Burke (; 12 January NS.html"_;"title="New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS">New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS/nowiki>_1729_–_9_July_1797)_was_an_Anglo-Irish_Politician.html" "title="New_Style">NS.html" ;"title= ...
stated that an official should be elected based on "his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience", and therefore should reflect on the arguments for and against certain policies and then do what he believes is best for his constituents and country as a whole, even if it means short-term backlash. Thus defenders of presidential systems hold that sometimes what is wisest may not always be the most popular decision and vice versa.


Differences from a parliamentary system

A number of key theoretical differences exist between a presidential and a parliamentary system: * In a presidential system, the central principle is that the
legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure ...
,
executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of state bureaucracy * Executive, a senior management role in an organization ** Chief exec ...
and judicial branches of government are separate. This leads to the separate election of president, who is elected to office for a fixed term, and only removable for gross misdemeanor by
impeachment Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
and dismissal. By contrast, in
parliamentarianism Parliamentary sovereignty (also called parliamentary supremacy or legislative supremacy) is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. It holds that the legislative body has absolute sovereignty Sovereignty is th ...
, the executive branch is led by a council of ministers, headed by a
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
, who are directly accountable to the legislature and often have their background in the legislature, which may be variously called a "parliament", an "assembly", a "diet", or a "chamber". * As with the president's set term of office, the legislature also exists for a set term of office and cannot be dissolved ahead of schedule. By contrast, in parliamentary systems, the prime minister needs to survive a vote of confidence if one is held, otherwise a new election must be called. The legislature can typically be dissolved at any stage during its life by the head of state, usually on the advice of either Prime Minister alone, by the Prime Minister and cabinet, or by the cabinet. * In a presidential system, the president usually has special privileges in the enactment of legislation, namely the possession of a power of
veto A veto (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Re ...
over legislation of bills, in some cases subject to the power of the legislature by weighted majority to override the veto. The legislature and the president are thus expected to serve as
checks and balances Separation of powers refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict ...
on each other's powers. * Presidential system presidents may also be given a great deal of constitutional authority in the exercise of the office of
Commander in Chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men' ...
, a constitutional title given to most presidents. In addition, the presidential power to receive ambassadors as head of state is usually interpreted as giving the president broad powers to conduct
foreign policy ''Foreign Policy'' is an American news publication, founded in 1970 and focused on global affairs, current events, and domestic and international policy. It produces content daily on its website, and in six print issues annually. ''Foreign Poli ...
. Though semi-presidential systems may reduce a president's power over day-to-day government affairs, semi-presidential systems commonly give the president power over foreign policy. * Presidential systems also have fewer ideological parties than parliamentary systems. Sometimes in the United States, the policies preferred by the two parties have been very similar, and at times quite polarized. In the 1950s, during the leadership of
Lyndon B. Johnson Lyndon Baines Johnson (; August 27, 1908January 22, 1973), often referred to by his initials LBJ, was the 36th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the ...

Lyndon B. Johnson
, the Senate Democrats included the
right Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is desc ...
-most members of the chamber— and , and the
left Left may refer to: Music * ''Left'' (Hope of the States album), 2006 * ''Left'' (Monkey House album), 2016 * ''Left'' (Sharlok Poems album) Direction * Left (direction), the relative direction opposite of right * Left-handedness Politics * ...
-most members—
Paul Douglas Paul Howard Douglas (March 26, 1892 – September 24, 1976) was an American politician and Georgist Georgism, also called in modern times geoism and known historically as the single tax movement, is an economic ideology holding that, although ...
and
Herbert Lehman Herbert Henry Lehman (March 28, 1878 – December 5, 1963) was a United States Democratic Party, Democratic Party politician from New York (state), New York. He served from 1933 until 1942 as the List of Governors of New York, 45th Governor of New ...

Herbert Lehman
. This pattern did not permanently hold, nor is it a feature of Latin American presidential democracies.


Overlapping elements

In practice, elements of both systems overlap. Though a president in a presidential system does not have to choose a government under the legislature, the legislature may have the right to scrutinize his or her appointments to high governmental office, with the right, on some occasions, to block an appointment. In the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, many appointments must be confirmed by the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
, although once confirmed an appointee can only be removed against the president's will through
impeachment Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
. By contrast, though answerable to parliament, a parliamentary system's cabinet may be able to make use of the parliamentary '
whip A whip is a tool designed to strike humans or other animals to exert control through pain compliance Pain compliance is the use of painful stimulus to control or direct an organism. The stimulus can be manual (brute force, placing pressure on ...
', an obligation on party members in parliament to vote with their party, to control and dominate parliament, reducing the parliament's ability to control the government.


States with a presidential system of government

''Italics'' indicate states with limited recognition.


Presidential systems

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ' * * * * * * * *


Presidential systems with a prime minister

The following countries have presidential systems where a post of
prime minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
(official title may vary) exists alongside that of the president. Differently from other systems, however, the president is still both the head of state and government and the prime minister's roles are mostly to assist the president. Belarus, Gabon and Kazakhstan, where the prime minister is effectively the head of government and the president the head of state, are exceptions. Article 53 of the
Constitution of India The Constitution of India (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the sci ...

Constitution of India
states that the president can exercise his powers directly or by subordinate authority, with few exceptions. All of the executive powers vested in the president are, in practice, exercised by the
prime minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
(a subordinate authority) with the help of the
Council of MinistersThe Council of Ministers is a traditional name given to the supreme executive organ in some governments. The term is usually equivalent to the word " cabinet" ( Council of State is a similar term that also may refer to a Cabinet. However, the terms ...

Council of Ministers
. The president is bound by the constitution to act on the advice of the prime minister and cabinet as long as the advice does not violate the constitution. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Countries with a Supreme Leader

* Iran combines the forms of a presidential republic, with a president elected by universal suffrage, and a
totalitarian 259x259px, Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit (2020): perceived authoritarian regimes in red, democracies in green, and color intensity ≈ regime intensity Totalitarianism is a form of government and a political system that prohi ...
theocracy Theocracy is a form of government in which one or more deities A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superna ...

theocracy
, with a
Supreme Leader A supreme leader or supreme ruler typically refers to the person among a number of leaders of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...
who is ultimately responsible for state policy, chosen by the elected
Assembly of Experts The Assembly of Experts ( fa, مجلس خبرگان رهبری, majles-e khobregân-e rahbari) —also translated as the Assembly of Experts of the Leadership or as the Council of Experts— is the deliberative body empowered to appoint and dism ...

Assembly of Experts
. Candidates for both the Assembly of Experts and the presidency are vetted by the appointed
Guardian Council The Guardian Council, also called Council of Guardians or Constitutional Council ( fa, شورای نگهبان, Shūrā-ye Negahbān) is an appointed and constitutionally mandated 12-member council that wields considerable power and influence in ...
.


Presidential system in administrative divisions

Dependencies of United States * * Special administrative regions of China * *


Former presidential Republics

* (1998–2013) * ( 1990–1991, 1992–2016) * (1975–1991) * ( 1948–1991) ''de facto'' * (1902–1959) * (1938–1940) * (1995–2004) * (1930–1933) ''de facto'' * ( 1859–1957), ( 1957–1986) * (1960–1963) * (1990–1991) * (1990–1991) * (1975–2015) *
Mali Mali (; ), officially the Republic of Mali (french: République du Mali; bm, ߡߊߟߌ ߞߊ ߝߊߛߏߖߊߡߊߣߊ, Mali ka Fasojamana, ff, 𞤈𞤫𞤲𞥆𞤣𞤢𞥄𞤲𞤣𞤭 𞤃𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭, Renndaandi Maali, ar, جمهورية م ...

Mali
(1960–1992) * (1960–1978) *
Niger ) , official_languages = French , languages_type = National language A national language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed languag ...

Niger
(1960–1974, 1989–1993) * (1962–1970) * (1935–
1939 This year also marks the start of the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two ...
) * ( 1991–1992) ''de facto'' * (1963-1972) * (1955–1975) * (1990–1991) * (1990–1991) * (1995-1996)An interim constitution passed in 1995 removed the President's ability to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada and the Rada's ability to dismiss the government by a vote of no confidence. Both of these provisions were restored upon the passage of a permanent constitution in 1996. * (1990–1991)


See also

* List of countries by system of government * Parliamentary system ** Westminster system * Semi-presidential system * Coalition government


Notes and references


External links


The Great Debate: Parliament versus Congress
* Castagnola, Andrea/Pérez-Liñán, Aníbal
Presidential Control of High Courts in Latin America: A Long-term View (1904-2006)
in Journal of Politics in Latin America, Hamburg 2009. {{Authority control Republic Political systems Presidents, System Republicanism Separation of powers