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Characteristics of Presidents

  • Date Submitted: 04/08/2012 10:17 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 30.7 
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Characteristics of presidents

Some national presidents are "figurehead" heads of state, like constitutional monarchs, and not active executive heads of government (although some figurehead presidents and constitutional monarchs maintain reserve powers). In contrast, in a full-fledged presidential system, a president is chosen by the people to be the head of the executive branch.

Presidential governments make no distinction between the positions of head of state and head of government, both of which are held by the president. Many parliamentary governments have a symbolic head of state in the form of a president or monarch (Again, in some cases these symbolic heads of state maintain active reserve powers). That person is responsible for the formalities of state functions, or in cases where the head of state has reserve powers, the "hands off" ensuing of a functional parliament, while the constitutional prerogatives of head of government are generally exercised by the prime minister. Such figurehead presidents tend to be elected in a much less direct manner than active presidential-system presidents, for example, by a vote of the legislature. A few nations, such as Slovakia, Ireland and Portugal, do have a popularly elected ceremonial president.

A few countries (e.g., South Africa) have powerful presidents who are elected by the legislature. These presidents are chosen in the same way as a prime minister, yet are heads of both state and government. These executives are titled "president", but are in practice similar to prime ministers. Other countries with the same system include Botswana, the Marshall Islands, and Nauru.

Presidents in a presidential system are always active participants in the political process, though the extent of their relative power may be influenced by the political makeup of the legislature and whether their supporters or opponents have the dominant position therein. In some presidential systems such as Weimar Germany and South...

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