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The president is a common title for the head of state in most republics. In politics, president is a title given to leaders of republican states. The functions exercised by a president vary according to the form of government. In parliamentary and semi-presidential republics, they are limited to those of the head of state, and are thus largely ceremonial. In presidential republics, the role of the president is more prominent, encompassing also (in most cases) the functions of the head of government. In authoritarian regimes, a dictator or leader of a one-party state may also be called a president, often charismatically.

Contents

1 Description

1.1 Presidential systems 1.2 Semi-presidential systems 1.3 Parliamentary systems 1.4 Collective presidency 1.5 Dictatorships 1.6 Presidential symbols 1.7 Presidential chronologies

2 Titles for non-heads of state

2.1 As head of government 2.2 Other executive positions

2.2.1 Sub-national

2.2.1.1 Poland 2.2.1.2 Russia 2.2.1.3 United Kingdom

2.2.1.3.1 Dependencies

2.2.1.4 Spain

2.2.2 Deputies

2.3 Legislatures

2.3.1 France 2.3.2 United Kingdom

3 See also 4 References

Description[edit] The title president is derived from the Latin
Latin
prae- "before" + sedere "to sit." As such, it originally designated the officer who presides over or "sits before" a gathering and ensures that debate is conducted according to the rules of order (see also chairman and speaker), but today it most commonly refers to an executive official in any social organization. Early examples are from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge (from 1464) and the founding President
President
of the Royal Society William Brouncker in 1660. This usage survives today in the title of such offices as " President
President
of the Board of Trade" and "Lord President of the Council" in the United Kingdom, as well as " President
President
of the Senate" in the United States
United States
(one of the roles constitutionally assigned to the vice president). The officiating priest at certain Anglican religious services, too, is sometimes called the "president" in this sense. However, the most common modern usage is as the title of a head of state in a republic. In pre-revolutionary France, the president of a Parlement
Parlement
evolved into a powerful magistrate, a member of the so-called noblesse de robe ("nobility of the gown"), with considerable judicial as well as administrative authority. The name referred to his primary role of presiding over trials and other hearings. In the 17th and 18th centuries, seats in the Parlements, including presidencies, became effectively hereditary, since the holder of the office could ensure that it would pass to an heir by paying the crown a special tax known as the paulette. The post of "first president" (premier président), however, could only be held by the King's nominees. The Parlements were abolished by the French Revolution. In modern France
France
the chief judge of a court is known as its president (président de la cour). The first usage of the word president to denote the highest official in a government was during the Commonwealth of England. After the abolition of the monarchy the English Council of State, whose members were elected by the House of Commons, became the executive government of the Commonwealth. The Council of State was the successor of the Privy Council, which had previously been headed by the Lord President; its successor the Council of State was also headed by a Lord President, the first of which was John Bradshaw. However, the Lord President
President
alone was not head of state, because that office was vested in the council as a whole. The modern usage of the term president to designate a single person who is the head of state of a republic can be traced directly to the United States
United States
Constitution of 1787, which created the office of President
President
of the United States. Previous American governments had included "presidents" (such as the president of the Continental Congress or the president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress), but these were presiding officers in the older sense, with no executive authority. It has been suggested that the executive use of the term was borrowed from early American colleges and universities, which were usually headed by a president. British universities were headed by an official called the "Chancellor" (typically a ceremonial position) while the chief administrator held the title of "Vice-Chancellor". But America's first institutions of higher learning (such as Harvard University
Harvard University
and Yale University) didn't resemble a full-sized university so much as one of its constituent colleges. A number of colleges at Cambridge University featured an official called the "president". The head, for instance, of Magdalene College, Cambridge was called the master and his second the president. The first president of Harvard, Henry Dunster, had been educated at Magdalene. Some have speculated that he borrowed the term out of a sense of humility, considering himself only a temporary place-holder. The presiding official of Yale College, originally a "rector" (after the usage of continental European universities), became "president" in 1745. A common style of address for presidents, "Mr/Mrs. President," is borrowed from British Parliamentary tradition, in which the presiding Speaker of the House of Commons is referred to as "Mr/Mrs. Speaker." Coincidentally, this usage resembles the older French custom of referring to the president of a parlement as "Monsieur/Madame le Président", a form of address that in modern France
France
applies to both the President
President
of the Republic
Republic
and to chief judges. Similarly, the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons
Canadian House of Commons
is addressed by francophone parliamentarians as "Monsieur/Madame le/la Président(e)". In Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
of 1782, the character identified as Madame la Présidente de Tourvel ("Madam President
President
of Tourvel") is the wife of a magistrate in a parlement. The fictional name Tourvel refers not to the parlement in which the magistrate sits, but rather, in imitation of an aristocratic title, to his private estate. Once the United States
United States
adopted the title of "president" for its republican head of state, many other nations followed suit. Haiti became the first presidential republic in Latin
Latin
America when Henri Christophe assumed the title in 1807. Almost all of the American nations that became independent from Spain
Spain
in the early 1810s and 1820s chose a US-style president as their chief executive. The first European president was the president of the Italian Republic
Republic
of 1802, a client state of revolutionary France, in the person of Napoleon Bonaparte. The first African president was the President
President
of Liberia (1848), while the first Asian president was the President
President
of the Republic
Republic
of China (1912).[citation needed] In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the powers of presidencies have varied from country to country. The spectrum of power has included presidents-for-life and hereditary presidencies to ceremonial heads of state. Presidents in the countries with a democratic or representative form of government are usually elected for a specified period of time and in some cases may be re-elected by the same process by which they are appointed, i.e. in many nations, periodic popular elections. The powers vested in such presidents vary considerably. Some presidencies, such as that of Ireland, are largely ceremonial, whereas other systems vest the president with substantive powers such as the appointment and dismissal of prime ministers or cabinets, the power to declare war, and powers of veto on legislation. In many nations the president is also the commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces, though once again this can range from a ceremonial role to one with considerable authority. Presidential systems[edit] Main article: President
President
of the Republic In almost all states with a presidential system of government, the president exercises the functions of head of state and head of government, i.e. the president directs the executive branch of government. When a President
President
not only is head of state, but also head of government, is this, in Europe known to be a President
President
of Counsel From the French Présidente du Conseil, used 1871-1940 and 1944-1958, as the Third and Fourth French Republics. In the United States
United States
has the President
President
always been both Head
Head
of State and Head
Head
of Government
Government
and has always had the title of President. Presidents in this system are either directly elected by popular vote or indirectly elected by an electoral college or some other democratically elected body. In the United States, the President
President
is indirectly elected by the Electoral College made up of electors chosen by voters in the presidential election. In most states of the United States, each elector is committed to voting for a specified candidate determined by the popular vote in each state, so that the people, in voting for each elector, are in effect voting for the candidate. However, for various reasons the numbers of electors in favour of each candidate are unlikely to be proportional to the popular vote. Thus, in five close United States
United States
elections (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016), the candidate with the most popular votes still lost the election. In Mexico, the president is directly elected for a six-year term by popular vote. The candidate who wins the most votes is elected president even without an absolute majority. The president may never get another term. The 2006 Mexican elections had a fierce competition, the electoral results showed a minimal difference between the two most voted candidates and such difference was just about the 0.58% of the total vote. The Federal Electoral Tribunal declared an elected president after a controversial post-electoral process. In Brazil, the president is directly elected for a four-year term by popular vote. A candidate has to have more than 50% of the valid votes. If no candidates achieve a majority of the votes, there is a runoff election between the two candidates with most votes. Again, a candidate needs a majority of the vote to be elected. In Brazil, a president cannot be elected to more than two consecutive terms, but there is no limit on the number of terms a president can serve. Many South American, Central American, African and some Asian nations follow the presidential model. Semi-presidential systems[edit] A second system is the semi-presidential system, also known as the French model. In this system, as in the parliamentary system, there are both a president and a prime minister; but unlike the parliamentary system, the president may have significant day-to-day power. For example, in France, when his party controls the majority of seats in the National Assembly, the president can operate closely with the parliament and prime minister, and work towards a common agenda. When the National Assembly is controlled by his opponents, however, the president can find himself marginalized with the opposition party prime minister exercising most of the power. Though the prime minister remains an appointee of the president, the president must obey the rules of parliament, and select a leader from the house's majority holding party. Thus, sometimes the president and prime minister can be allies, sometimes rivals; the latter situation is known in France
France
as cohabitation. Variants of the French semi-presidential system, developed at the beginning of the Fifth Republic
Republic
by Charles de Gaulle, are used in France, Portugal, Romania, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
and several post-colonial countries which have emulated the French model. In Finland, although the 2000 constitution moved towards a ceremonial presidency, the system is still formally semi-presidential, with the President of Finland
President of Finland
retaining e.g. foreign policy and appointment powers. Parliamentary systems[edit] See also: Parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
and Parliamentary republic The parliamentary republic, is a parliamentary system in which the presidency is largely ceremonial with either de facto or no significant executive authority (such as the President
President
of Austria) or de jure no significant executive power (such as the President
President
of Ireland), and the executive powers rests with the Prime Minister
Prime Minister
who automatically assumes the post as head of a majority party or coalition, but takes oath of office administered by the president. However, the president is head of the civil service, commander in chief of the armed forces and in some cases can dissolve parliament. Countries using this system include Austria, Albania, Bangladesh, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy,[1] Malta, Pakistan, Singapore. A variation of the parliamentary republic is a system with an executive president in which the president is the head of state and the government but unlike a presidential system, is elected by and accountable to a parliament, and referred to as president. Countries using this system include Botswana, South Africa
Africa
and Suriname. Collective presidency[edit]

The seven-member Swiss Federal Council
Swiss Federal Council
serves as collective head of government and state of Switzerland.

Only a tiny minority of modern republics do not have a single head of state. Some examples of this are:

Switzerland, where the headship of state is collectively vested in the seven-member Swiss Federal Council, although there is also a President of the Confederation, who is a member of the Federal Council elected by the Federal Assembly (the Swiss parliament) for a year (constitutional convention mandates that the post rotates every New Year's Day). The Captains Regent
Captains Regent
of San Marino
San Marino
elected by the Grand and General Council. In the former Soviet Union, while the real power was exercised by the general secretary of the Communist Party, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet executed powers of collective head of state, and its chairman was often called "president" in the West. Yugoslavia after the death of Josip Broz Tito
Josip Broz Tito
until its breakup. Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina National Council of Government
Government
(Uruguay) Junta of National Reconstruction in Nicaragua

Dictatorships[edit] In dictatorships, the title of president is frequently taken by self-appointed or military-backed leaders. Such is the case in many states: Idi Amin
Idi Amin
in Uganda, Mobutu Sese Seko
Mobutu Sese Seko
in Zaire, Ferdinand Marcos in Philippines
Philippines
and Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
in Iraq
Iraq
are some examples. Other presidents in authoritarian states have wielded only symbolic or no power such as Craveiro Lopes
Craveiro Lopes
in Portugal
Portugal
and Joaquín Balaguer under the "Trujillo Era" of the Dominican Republic. President for Life
President for Life
is a title assumed by some dictators to try to ensure that their authority or legitimacy is never questioned. Ironically, most leaders who proclaim themselves President for Life
President for Life
do not in fact successfully serve a life term. On the other hand, presidents like Alexandre Pétion, Rafael Carrera, Josip Broz Tito
Josip Broz Tito
and François Duvalier
François Duvalier
died in office. Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
was named Eternal President
President
of the Republic
Republic
after his death. In ancient Rome, Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
appointed himself in 82 BC to an entirely new office, dictator rei publicae constituendae causa ("dictator for the making of laws and for the settling of the constitution"), which was functionally identical to the dictatorate rei gerundae causa ("for the matter to be done," e.g., a military command against a specific enemy) except that it lacked any set time limit, although Sulla held this office for over two years before he voluntarily abdicated and retired from public life. The second well-known incident of a leader extending his term indefinitely was Roman dictator
Roman dictator
Julius Caesar, who made himself "Perpetual Dictator" (commonly mistranslated as 'Dictator-for-life') in 45 BC. His actions would later be mimicked by the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon Bonaparte
who was appointed "First Consul for life" in 1802 and five years later, the French senate proclaimed him emperor (a monarchical title). Several presidents have ruled until their death, but they have not proclaimed themselves as President
President
for Life. For instance, Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania, who ruled until his execution (see Romanian Revolution). Presidential symbols[edit] As the country's head of state, in most countries the president is entitled to certain perquisites, and may have a prestigious residence, often a lavish mansion or palace, sometimes more than one (e.g. summer and winter residences, or a country retreat) Customary symbols of office may include an official uniform, decorations, a presidential seal, coat of arms, flag and other visible accessories, as well as military honours such as gun salutes, ruffles and flourishes, and a presidential guard. A common presidential symbol is the presidential sash worn most often by presidents in Latin
Latin
America and Africa
Africa
as a symbol of the continuity of the office.[2] Presidential chronologies[edit] Main article: List of current presidents United Nations
United Nations
member countries in columns, other entities at the beginning:

European Commission List of presidents of European Union institutions List of Presidents of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
(Leaders)

Titles for non-heads of state[edit] As head of government[edit] Some countries with parliamentary systems use a term meaning/translating as "president" (in some languages indistinguishable from chairman) for the head of parliamentary government, often as President
President
of the Government, President
President
of the Council of Ministers or President
President
of the Executive Council. However, such an official is explicitly not the president of the country. Rather, he/she is called a president in an older sense of the word, to denote the fact that he/she heads the cabinet. A separate head of state generally exists in their country that instead serves as the president or monarch of the country. Thus, such officials are really premiers, and to avoid confusion are often described simply as 'prime minister' when being mentioned internationally. There are several examples for this kind of presidency:

The official title of the Italian Prime Minister
Prime Minister
is President
President
of the Council of Ministers (Italian Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri) Under the French Third and the Fourth Republics, the " President
President
of the Council" (of ministers – or prime minister) was the head of government, with the President
President
of the Republic
Republic
a largely symbolic figurehead. The Prime minister
Prime minister
of the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
from 1922 to 1937 was titled President
President
of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State. At the same time, the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
was a constitutional monarchy with a reigning monarch, the King of Ireland, as well as a resident Governor-General
Governor-General
carrying out many head of state functions. Under the constitutional monarchies of Brazil
Brazil
and Portugal, the President of the Council of Ministers (Portuguese Presidente do Conselho de Ministros) was the head of government, with the Monarch being the head of State. Under the Portuguese First and Second Republics, the head of government was the President
President
of the Ministry (Portuguese Presidente do Ministério) and then the President
President
of the Council of Ministers, with the President
President
of the Republic
Republic
as the head of State. The Prime Minister
Prime Minister
of Spain
Spain
is officially referred to as the President of the Government
Government
of Spain, and informally known as the "president". Spain
Spain
is also a kingdom with a reigning king. The official title of the Croatian prime minister is President
President
of the Government
Government
of the Republic
Republic
of Croatia (Croatian: Predsjednik Vlade Republike Hrvatske). The official title of the Polish prime minister is President
President
of the Council of Ministers (Polish Prezes Rady Ministrów). In British constitutional practice, the chairman of an Executive Council, acting in such a capacity, is known as a President
President
of the Executive Council. Usually this person is the Governor
Governor
and it always stays like that. Between 1918 and 1934, Estonia
Estonia
had no separate head of state. Both Prime Ministers (1918-1920) and State Elders (1920-1934) often translated as "Presidents") were elected by the parliament.

Other executive positions[edit] Sub-national[edit] President
President
can also be the title of the chief executive at a lower administrative level, such as the parish presidents of the parishes of the U.S. state
U.S. state
of Louisiana, the presiding member of city council for villages in the U.S. state
U.S. state
of Illinois, or the municipal presidents of Mexico's municipalities. Perhaps the best known sub-national presidents are the borough presidents of the Five Boroughs of New York City. Poland[edit] In Poland the President
President
of the City (Polish: Prezydent miasta) is the executive authority of the municipality elected in direct elections, the equivalent of the mayor. The Office of the President
President
(Mayor) is also found in Germany
Germany
and Switzerland. Russia[edit] Governors of ethnic republics in the Russian Federation
Russian Federation
used to have the title of President, occasionally alongside other, secondary titles such as Chairman
Chairman
of the Government
Government
(also used by Prime Minister
Prime Minister
of Russia). This likely reflects the origin of Russian republics
Russian republics
as homelands for various ethnic groups: while all federal subjects of Russia are currently de jure equal, their predecessors, the ASSRs, used to enjoy more privileges than the ordinary krais and oblasts of the RSFSR
RSFSR
(such as greater representation in the Soviet of Nationalities). Thus, the ASSRs and their eventual successors would have more in common with nation-states than with ordinary administrative divisions, at least in spirit, and would choose titles accordingly. Over the course of the 2010s the presidents of Russian republics
Russian republics
would progressively change their title to that of Head
Head
(Russian: глава), a proposition suggested by the President
President
of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov
Ramzan Kadyrov
and later made law by the Parliament
Parliament
of Russia and President
President
Dmitriy Medvedev
Dmitriy Medvedev
in 2010. Despite this, however, Presidents of Tatarstan
Tatarstan
would reject this change and, as of 2017, retain their title in defiance of Russian law. The new title did not result in any changes in the powers wielded by the governors. United Kingdom[edit] The Lord President of the Council
Lord President of the Council
is one of the Great Officers of State in England
England
who presides over meetings of British Privy Council; the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister
Prime Minister
is technically a committee of the Council, and all decisions of the Cabinet are formally approved through Orders in Council. Although the Lord President
President
is a member of the Cabinet, the position is largely a ceremonial one and is traditionally given to either the Leader of the House of Commons
Leader of the House of Commons
or the Leader of the House of Lords. Historically the President of the Board of Trade
President of the Board of Trade
was a cabinet member. Dependencies[edit] In Alderney, the elected head of government is called the President
President
of the States of Alderney. In the Isle of Man, there is a President
President
of Tynwald. Spain[edit] In Spain, the executive leaders of the autonomous communities (regions) are called presidents. In each community, they can be called Presidente de la Comunidad or Presidente del Consejo among others. They are elected by their respective regional assemblies and have similar powers to a state president or governor. Deputies[edit] Below a president, there can be a number of or "vice presidents" (or occasionally "deputy presidents") and sometimes several "assistant presidents" or "assistant vice presidents", depending on the organisation and its size. These posts do not hold the same power but more of a subordinate position to the president. However, power can be transferred in special circumstances to the deputy or vice president. Normally vice presidents hold some power and special responsibilities below that of the president. The difference between vice/deputy presidents and assistant/associate vice presidents is the former are legally allowed to run an organisation, exercising the same powers (as well as being second in command) whereas the latter are not. Legislatures[edit] In some countries the speaker of their unicameral legislatures, or of one or both houses of bicameral legislatures, the speakers have the title of president of "the body". France[edit] In French legal terminology, the president of a court consisting of multiple judges is the foremost judge; he chairs the meeting of the court and directs the debates (and this thus addressed as "Mrs President", "Madame la Présidente", Mr President", or Monsieur le Président. In general, a court comprises several chambers, each with its own president; thus the most senior of these is called the "first president" (as in: "the First President
President
of the Court of Cassation is the most senior judge in France"). Similarly in English legal practice the most senior judge in each division uses this title (e.g. President of the Family Division, President
President
of the Court of Appeal). United Kingdom[edit] In the recently established Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the most senior judge is called the President
President
of the Supreme Court. The Lady/Lord President
President
of the Court of Session
Court of Session
is head of the judiciary in Scotland, and presiding judge (and Senator) of the College of Justice and Court of Session, as well as being Lady/Lord Justice General of Scotland
Scotland
and head of the High Court of Justiciary, the offices having been combined in 1784. See also[edit]

Mr. President
President
(title) Presidents Day Presidential system Requirements for becoming a president Vice president

Head
Head
of state:

Head
Head
of state Governor-General Monarch Supreme Leader List of state leaders

Other head of government:

Prime minister Minister-President
Minister-President
(a head of government, not of state)

References[edit]

^ But presidential moral suasion is increasingly confirming that the "neutral powers", in this country, often find in the head of state the best defender from executive interference: Buonomo, Giampiero (2014). "Autorità indipendenti e sistema costituzionale". L'ago e il filo.   – via  Questia (subscription required) ^ McCullough, J. J. "Presidential Sashes". Retrieved 19 February 2017. 

v t e

Titles used for heads of government

Chancellor Chief executive Chief minister Federal Council (collective head of government) First minister (and deputy First Minister) Minister-president Premier President President
President
of the Executive Council President
President
of the Council of Ministers President
President
of the government Prime minister State Elder Statsminister Taoiseach

Authority control

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