Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Presidential system

Presidential system

Overview

A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 exists and presides (hence the name) separately from the legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it.

Although not exclusive to republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

s, and applied in the case of semi-constitutional monarchies
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 where a monarch
British monarchy
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

 exercises power (both as head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and chief of the executive branch of government) alongside a legislature, the term is often associated with republican systems in the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Presidential system'
Start a new discussion about 'Presidential system'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia

A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 exists and presides (hence the name) separately from the legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it.

Although not exclusive to republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

s, and applied in the case of semi-constitutional monarchies
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 where a monarch
British monarchy
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

 exercises power (both as head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and chief of the executive branch of government) alongside a legislature, the term is often associated with republican systems in the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

. Presidential systems are numerous and diverse, but the following are generally true of most such governments:
  • The executive branch
    Executive (government)
    Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

     does not propose bill
    Bill (proposed law)
    A bill is a proposed law under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called an act or a statute....

    s. However, they may have the power to veto
    Veto
    A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

     acts of the legislature and, in turn, a supermajority
    Supermajority
    A supermajority or a qualified majority is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level or type of support which exceeds a simple majority . In some jurisdictions, for example, parliamentary procedure requires that any action that may alter the rights of the minority has a supermajority...

     of legislators may act to override the veto. This practice is generally derived from the British
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     tradition of royal assent
    Royal Assent
    The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

     in which an act of parliament cannot come into effect without the assent of the monarch
    British monarchy
    The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

    .
  • In the case of presidential republics, the president has a fixed term of office. Elections are held at scheduled times and cannot be triggered by a vote of confidence or other such parliamentary procedures. Although in some countries, there is an exception to this rule, 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 (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 :...

     serve at the pleasure of the head of state and must carry out the policies of the executive and legislative branches. However, presidential systems frequently require legislative approval of executive nominations to the cabinet as well as various governmental posts such as judge
    Judge
    A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

    s. A presidential leader generally has power to direct members of the cabinet, military or any officer or employee of the executive branch, but generally has no power to dismiss or give orders to judges.
  • The power to pardon
    Pardon
    Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

     or commute
    Commutation of sentence
    Commutation of sentence involves the reduction of legal penalties, especially in terms of imprisonment. Unlike a pardon, a commutation does not nullify the conviction and is often conditional. Clemency is a similar term, meaning the lessening of the penalty of the crime without forgiving the crime...

     sentences of convicted criminals is often in the hands of the head of state.


Countries that feature a presidential system of government are not the exclusive users of the title of President or the republican form of government. For example, a dictator
Dictator
A dictator is a ruler who assumes sole and absolute power but without hereditary ascension such as an absolute monarch. When other states call the head of state of a particular state a dictator, that state is called a dictatorship...

, who may or may not have been popularly or legitimately elected may be and often is called a president. Likewise, many parliamentary democracies are republics and have presidents, but this position is largely ceremonial; notable examples include Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 (see Parliamentary republic
Parliamentary republic
A parliamentary republic or parliamentary constitutional republic is a type of republic which operates under a parliamentary system of government - meaning a system with no clear-cut separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. There are a number of variations of...

).

Characteristics of presidents


Some national presidents are "figurehead"
Figurehead (metaphor)
In politics, a figurehead is a person who holds de jure an important title or office yet de facto executes little actual power, most commonly limited by convention rather than law. The metaphor derives from the carved figurehead at the prow of a sailing ship...

 heads of state, like constitutional monarchs, and not active executive heads of government. (although some figurehead presidents and constitutional monarchs maintain reserve power
Reserve power
In a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government, a reserve power is a power that may be exercised by the head of state without the approval of another branch of the government. Unlike a presidential system of government, the head of state is generally constrained by the cabinet or the...

s) 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
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and 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...

, both of which are held by the president. Many parliamentary governments
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....

 have a symbolic head of state in the form of a president or monarch
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 (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 constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

al 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
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 and Portugal, do have a popularly elected ceremonial president.

A few countries (e.g., South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

) 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
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

, the Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

, and Nauru
Nauru
Nauru , officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just...

.

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 Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

, there is an office of prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 or premier
Premier
Premier is a title for the head of government in some countries and states.-Examples by country:In many nations, "premier" is used interchangeably with "prime minister"...

 but, unlike in semi-presidential
Semi-presidential system
The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a president and a prime minister are both active participants in the day-to-day administration of the state...

 or parliamentary systems, the premier is responsible to the president rather than to the legislature.

Subnational governments



Subnational governments, usually municipalities, may be structured as a presidential system. All of the state governments of the United States use the presidential system, however this is not constitutionally required. Another example is Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 where the national government uses the parliamentary system but the prefectural
Prefectures of Japan
The prefectures of Japan are the country's 47 subnational jurisdictions: one "metropolis" , Tokyo; one "circuit" , Hokkaidō; two urban prefectures , Osaka and Kyoto; and 43 other prefectures . In Japanese, they are commonly referred to as...

 and municipal governments
Municipalities of Japan
Japan has three levels of government: national, prefectural, and municipal. The nation is divided into 47 prefectures. Each prefecture consists of numerous municipalities. There are four types of municipalities in Japan: cities, towns, villages and special wards...

 have governors and mayors elected independently from local assemblies and councils.

Advantages of presidential systems


Supporters generally claim four basic advantages for presidential systems:
  • Direct elections — in a presidential system, the president is often elected directly by the people. To some, this makes the president's power more legitimate than that of a leader appointed indirectly. However, this is not a necessary property of a presidential system. Some presidential states have an unelected or indirectly elected head of state.
  • Separation of powers — a presidential system establishes the presidency and the legislature as two parallel structures. Supporters say that this arrangement allows each structure to monitor and check the other, preventing abuses.
  • Speed and decisiveness — some argue that a president with strong powers can usually enact changes quickly. However, others argue that the separation of powers slows the system down.
  • 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
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 use an electoral college
Electoral college
An electoral college is a set of electors who are selected to elect a candidate to a particular office. Often these represent different organizations or entities, with each organization or entity represented by a particular number of electors or with votes weighted in a particular way...

 (which is itself directly elected) 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. Since prime ministers are not elected directly, it could be argued their mandate to lead is not a personal mandate and therefore less legitimate.

Separation of powers


The fact that a presidential system separates 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 regarded to be a vote of no confidence. 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
Watergate scandal
The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement...

, Woodrow Wyatt
Woodrow Wyatt
Woodrow Lyle Wyatt, Baron Wyatt of Weeford , was a British politician, published author, journalist and broadcaster, close to the Queen Mother, Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch...

, 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 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
Party discipline is the ability of a parliamentary group of a political party to get its members to support the policies of their party leadership. In liberal democracies, it usually refers to the control that party leaders have over its legislature...

 is much more strictly enforced. If a parliamentary backbencher
Backbencher
In Westminster parliamentary systems, a backbencher is a Member of Parliament or a legislator who does not hold governmental office and is not a Front Bench spokesperson in the Opposition...

 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.

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 to be a vote of no confidence. 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
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 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), 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


Some supporters of presidential systems claim 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
Why England Slept
Why England Slept is the published version of a thesis written by John F. Kennedy while in his senior year at Harvard College. Its title was an allusion to Winston Churchill's 1938 book While England Slept, which also examined the buildup of German power...

, John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 said that Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC was a British Conservative politician, who dominated the government in his country between the two world wars...

 and Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

 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 parties, and guarantee bipartisan input into legislation. In the United States, Republican Congressman Bill Frenzel
Bill Frenzel
William Eldridge "Bill" Frenzel is a former Republican Congressman from Minnesota, representing Minnesota's Third District, which included the southern and western suburbs of Minneapolis.- Early life and career :...

 wrote in 1995:
There are some of us who think gridlock is the best thing since indoor plumbing. Gridlock is the natural gift the Framers of the Constitution gave us so that the country would not be subjected to policy swings resulting from the whimsy of the public. And the competition—whether multi-branch, multi-level, or multi-house—is important to those checks and balances and to our ongoing kind of centrist government. Thank heaven we do not have a government that nationalizes one year and privatizes next year, and so on ad infinitum. (Checks and Balances, 8)

Stability


Although most parliamentary governments go long periods of time without a no confidence vote, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and the French Fourth Republic
French Fourth Republic
The French Fourth Republic was the republican government of France between 1946 and 1958, governed by the fourth republican constitution. It was in many ways a revival of the Third Republic, which was in place before World War II, and suffered many of the same problems...

 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
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

, extremist parties can theoretically use the threat of leaving a coalition to further their agendas.

Many people consider presidential systems to be 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. France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 during the Algerian controversy
Algerian War of Independence
The Algerian War was a conflict between France and Algerian independence movements from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria's gaining its independence from France...

 switched to a semi-presidential system
Semi-presidential system
The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a president and a prime minister are both active participants in the day-to-day administration of the state...

 as did Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 during its civil war, while Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 experimented with a directly elected prime minister in 1992. In France and Sri Lanka, the results are widely considered to have been positive. However, in the case of Israel, an unprecedented proliferation of smaller parties occurred, leading to the restoration of the previous system of selecting a prime minister.

The fact that elections are fixed in a presidential system is considered to be a welcome "check" on the powers of the executive, contrasting parliamentary systems, which often allow the prime minister to call elections whenever he sees fit, or orchestrate his own vote of no confidence to trigger an election when he cannot get a legislative item passed. The presidential model is said to discourage this sort of opportunism, and instead force the executive to operate within the confines of a term he cannot alter to suit his own needs. Theoretically, if a president's positions and actions have had a positive impact on their respective country, then it is likely that their party's candidate (possibly they) will be elected for another term in office.

Proponents of the presidential system also argue that stability extends to the cabinets chosen under the system, compared to a parliamentary system where 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 frequenty go through disruptive "cabinet shuffle
Cabinet shuffle
In the parliamentary system a cabinet shuffle or reshuffle is an informal term for an event that occurs when a head of government rotates or changes the composition of ministers in their cabinet....

s" where legislators are moved between portfolios, whereas in presidential system cabinets (such as the 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...

), cabinet shuffles are unheard of.

Criticism


Critics generally claim three basic disadvantages for presidential systems:
  • Tendency towards authoritarianism — some political scientists say that presidentialism is not constitutionally stable.
  • Political gridlock - The separation of powers of a presidential system establishes the presidency and the legislature as two parallel structures. Critics argue that this frequently creates undesirable and long-term political gridlock
    Gridlock (politics)
    In politics, gridlock refers to the difficulty of passing laws fulfilling a party's political agenda in a legislature that is nearly evenly divided, or in which two legislative houses, or the executive branch and the legislature are controlled by different political parties...

     and political instability 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. In addition, this reduces accountability by allowing the president and the legislature to shift blame to each other.
  • Impediments to leadership change — it is claimed that the difficulty in removing an unsuitable president from office before his or her term has expired represents a significant problem.

Tendency towards authoritarianism


Winning the presidency is a winner-take-all, zero-sum prize. A prime minister who does not enjoy a majority in the legislature will have to either form a coalition or, if he is able to lead a minority government, govern in a manner acceptable to at least some of the opposition parties. Even if the prime minister leads a majority government, he must still govern within (perhaps unwritten) constraints as determined by the members of his party—a premier in this situation is often at greater risk of losing his party leadership than his party is at risk of losing the next election. On the other hand, once elected a president can not only marginalize the influence of other parties, but can exclude rival factions in his own party as well, or even leave the party whose ticket he was elected under. The president can thus rule without any allies for the duration of one or possibly multiple terms, a worrisome situation for many interest groups. Juan Linz
Juan Linz
Juan José Linz is a Spanish sociologist and political scientist. He is Sterling Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Yale University and an honorary member of the Scientific Council at the Juan March Institute...

 argues that:
The danger that zero-sum presidential elections pose is compounded by the rigidity of the president's fixed term in office. Winners and losers are sharply defined for the entire period of the presidential mandate... losers must wait four or five years without any access to executive power and patronage. The zero-sum game in presidential regimes raises the stakes of presidential elections and inevitably exacerbates their attendant tension and polarization.


Constitutions that only require plurality support are said to be especially undesirable, as significant power can be vested in a person who does not enjoy support from a majority of the population.

Some political scientists say that presidentialism is not constitutionally stable. Some political scientists go further, and argue that presidential systems 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 some political scientists, such as Fred Riggs, presidentialism has fallen into authoritarianism in nearly every country it has been attempted. Seymour Martin Lipset
Seymour Martin Lipset
Seymour Martin Lipset was an American political sociologist, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and the Hazel Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University. His major work was in the fields of political sociology, trade union organization, social stratification, public opinion, and...

 and others are careful to point out that this has taken place in political cultures not conducive to democracy, and that militaries have tended to play a prominent role in most of these countries. Nevertheless, certain aspects of the presidential system may have played a role in some situations. On the other hand, an often-cited list of the world's 22 older democracies includes only two countries (Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

) with presidential systems. It is noteworthy that the youngest democracy (established under US influence) Afghanistan, is presidential, and many predict its quick failure after American pull-out.

In a presidential system, the legislature and the president have equally valid mandates from the public. There is often no way to reconcile conflict between the branches of government. When president and legislature are in disagreement and government is not working effectively, there is a powerful incentive to employ extra-constitutional maneuvres to break the deadlock.

Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 is sometimes presented as a case study of democratic failures over the past quarter-century. Presidents have ignored the legislature or bypassed it altogether. One president had the National Assembly teargassed, while another was kidnapped by paratroopers until he agreed to certain congressional demands. From 1979 through 1988, Ecuador staggered through a succession of executive-legislative confrontations that created a near permanent crisis atmosphere in the policy. In 1984, President León Febres Cordero
León Febres Cordero
León Esteban Febres-Cordero Ribadeneyra was President of Ecuador for a four-year term from 10 August 1984 to 10 August 1988...

 tried to physically bar new Congressionally appointed supreme court appointees from taking their seats. In Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, presidents have accomplished their objectives by creating executive agencies over which Congress had no say.

Critics such as Dana D. Nelson
Dana D. Nelson
Dana D. Nelson is a professor of English at Vanderbilt University and a prominent progressive advocate for citizenship and democracy. She is notable for her criticism in her books such as Bad for Democracy of excessive presidential power and for exposing a tendency by Americans to neglect basic...

 in her 2008 book Bad for Democracy
Bad for Democracy
Bad for Democracy: How the Presidency Undermines the Power of the People is a non-fiction book written by Vanderbilt professor Dana D. Nelson. It is notable for criticism of excessive presidential power and for her call for substantive political reform...

 see the office of the president of the United States as essentially undemocratic and she sees presidentialism as worship of the president by citizens which tends to undermine civic participation.

Political gridlock


Some political scientists speak of the "failure of presidentialism" because the separation of powers of a presidential system frequently creates undesirable and long-term political gridlock
Gridlock (politics)
In politics, gridlock refers to the difficulty of passing laws fulfilling a party's political agenda in a legislature that is nearly evenly divided, or in which two legislative houses, or the executive branch and the legislature are controlled by different political parties...

 and political instability whenever the president and the legislative majority are from different parties. This is common because the electorate usually expects more rapid results from new policies than are possible and often prefers candidates from a different party at the next election. These critics, including Juan Linz
Juan Linz
Juan José Linz is a Spanish sociologist and political scientist. He is Sterling Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Yale University and an honorary member of the Scientific Council at the Juan March Institute...

, argue that this inherent political instability can cause democracies to fail, as seen in such cases as Brazil and Chile.

In addition, 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
C. Douglas Dillon
Clarence Douglas Dillon was an American diplomat and politician, who served as U.S. Ambassador to France and as the 57th Secretary of the Treasury...

 said "the president blames Congress, the Congress blames the president, and the public remains confused and disgusted with government in Washington".

In Congressional Government, Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 asked,
...how is the schoolmaster, the nation, to know which boy needs the whipping? ... Power and strict accountability for its use are the essential constituents of good government. ... It is, therefore, manifestly a radical defect in our federal system that it parcels out power and confuses responsibility as it does. The main purpose of the Convention of 1787 seems to have been to accomplish this grievous mistake. The 'literary theory' of checks and balances is simply a consistent account of what our constitution makers tried to do; and those checks and balances have proved mischievous just to the extent which they have succeeded in establishing themselves ... [the Framers] would be the first to admit that the only fruit of dividing power had been to make it irresponsible.


Consider the example of the increase in the federal debt of the United States that occurred during the presidency of Republican Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

. Arguably, the deficits were the product of a bargain between President Reagan and the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O'Neill
Tip O'Neill
Thomas Phillip "Tip" O'Neill, Jr. was an American politician. O'Neill was an outspoken liberal Democrat and influential member of the U.S. Congress, serving in the House of Representatives for 34 years and representing two congressional districts in Massachusetts...

 - O'Neill agreed not to oppose tax cuts favored by Reagan, and in exchange Reagan agreed to sign budgets that failed to adequately restrain spending. In such a scenario, each side can claim to be displeased with the debt, plausibly blame the other side for the deficit, and still tout its own success.

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." (Balfour, intro to the English Constitution). Consider John Tyler
John Tyler
John Tyler was the tenth President of the United States . A native of Virginia, Tyler served as a state legislator, governor, U.S. representative, and U.S. senator before being elected Vice President . He was the first to succeed to the office of President following the death of a predecessor...

, who only became president because William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

 had died after thirty days. Tyler refused to sign Whig legislation, was loathed by his nominal party, but remained firmly in control of the executive branch. Since most presidential systems provide no legal means to remove a president simply for being unpopular, many presidential countries have experienced military coups to remove a leader who is said to have lost his mandate.

In parliamentary systems, unpopular leaders can be quickly removed by a vote of no confidence, a procedure which is reckoned to be a "pressure release valve" for political tension. Votes of no confidence are easier to achieve in minority government
Minority government
A minority government or a minority cabinet is a cabinet of a parliamentary system formed when a political party or coalition of parties does not have a majority of overall seats in the parliament but is sworn into government to break a Hung Parliament election result. It is also known as a...

 situations, but even if the unpopular leader heads a majority government
Majority government
A majority government is when the governing party has an absolute majority of seats in the legislature or parliament in a parliamentary system. This is as opposed to a minority government, where even the largest party wins only a plurality of seats and thus must constantly bargain for support from...

, nonetheless he is often in a far less secure position than a president. Removing a president through impeachment
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 is a procedure mandated by most constitutions, but impeachment proceedings usually cannot be initiated except in cases where the president has violated the constitution and/or broken the law. Impeachment is usually made into a very difficult process, by comparison the process of removing a party leader is governed by the (often much less formal) rules of the party in question. Nearly all parties (including governing parties) have a relatively simple and straightforward process for removing their leaders. If a premier sustains a serious enough blow to his/her popularity and refuses to resign on his/her own prior to the next election, then members of his/her party face the prospect of losing their seats. So other prominent party members have a very strong incentive to initiate a leadership challenge in hopes of mitigating damage to the party. More often than not, a premier facing a serious challenge will resolve to save face by resigning
Resignation
A resignation is the formal act of giving up or quitting one's office or position. It can also refer to the act of admitting defeat in a game like chess, indicated by the resigning player declaring "I resign", turning his king on its side, extending his hand, or stopping the chess clock...

 before he/she is formally removed—Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

's relinquishing of her premiership being a prominent, recent example.

In The English Constitution, Walter Bagehot
Walter Bagehot
Walter Bagehot was an English businessman, essayist, and journalist who wrote extensively about literature, government, and economic affairs.-Early years:...

 criticized presidentialism because it does not allow a transfer in power in the event of an emergency.
Under a cabinet constitution at a sudden emergency the people can choose a ruler for the occasion. It is quite possible and even likely that he would not be ruler before the occasion. The great qualities, the imperious will, the rapid energy, the eager nature fit for a great crisis are not required—are impediments—in common times. A Lord Liverpool is better in everyday politics than a Chatham—a Louis Philippe far better than a Napoleon. By the structure of the world we want, at the sudden occurrence of a grave tempest, to change the helmsman—to replace the pilot of the calm by the pilot of the storm.

But under a presidential government you can do nothing of the kind. The American government calls itself a government of the supreme people; but at a quick crisis, the time when a sovereign power is most needed, you cannot find the supreme people. You have got a congress elected for one fixed period, going out perhaps by fixed installments, which cannot be accelerated or retarded—you have a president chosen for a fixed period, and immovable during that period: ..there is no elastic element... you have bespoken your government in advance, and whether it is what you want or not, by law you must keep it ... (The English Constitution, the Cabinet.)


Opponents of the presidential system note that years later, Bagehot's observation came to life during World War II, when Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

 was replaced with Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

.

However, supporters of the presidential system question the validity of the point. They counter that republics such as the United States successfully endured this 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 his cabinet and elsewhere in government, and/or by creating new positions to deal with new challenges. One prominent, recent example would be the appointment of a Secretary of Homeland Security following the September 11 attacks in the United States.

Some supporters of the presidential system counter that impediments to a leadership change is a strength as opposed to a weakness in times of crisis. In such times, a prime minister might hesitate due to the need to maintain the support of parliament, whereas a president can act without fear of being removed from office by those who might disapprove of his actions. Unlike what would be possible in a presidnetial system, a perceived crisis in the parliamentary system might provide disgruntled backbenchers or leadership rivals an opportunity to launch a vexatious challenge for a prime minister's leadership. In such a circumstance, there is no guarantee that the sudden accession of an unproven prime minister during such a crisis will be a change for the better - the ouster of Thatcher is cited as one such example by those who argue her successor John Major
John Major
Sir John Major, is a British Conservative politician, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990–1997...

 proved less able to defend British interests in the ensuing Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 than Thatcher would have.

Finally, many have criticized presidential systems for their alleged slowness in responding to their citizens' needs. Often, the checks and balances make action extremely difficult. Walter Bagehot
Walter Bagehot
Walter Bagehot was an English businessman, essayist, and journalist who wrote extensively about literature, government, and economic affairs.-Early years:...

 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 [and not itself] will suffer the effects". (ibid.)

Defenders of Presidential systems, on the other hand, hold that this can serve to ensure that minority wishes and rights are not trampled upon, thus preventing a "Tyranny of the majority
Tyranny of the majority
The phrase "tyranny of the majority" , used in discussing systems of democracy and majority rule, is a criticism of the scenario in which decisions made by a majority under that system would place that majority's interests so far above a dissenting individual's interest that the individual would be...

" and vice versa protect the wishes and rights of the majority from abuse by legislature and/or executive that holds a contrary view point, especially when there are frequent, scheduled elections.

British-Irish philosopher and MP Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

 stated that officials should be elected based on "his [or her] unbiased opinion, his [or her] mature judgment, [and] his [or her] enlightened conscience", and therefore should reflect on the arguments for and against certain policies before taking positions and then act out on what an official would believe to be best in the long run for one's 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
Trustee model of representation
The trustee model of representation is a model of a representative democracy. Constituents elect their representatives as 'trustees' for their constituency. These 'trustees' have sufficient autonomy to deliberate and act in favor of the greater common good and national interest, even if it means...

 and vice versa.

Differences from a cabinet system


A number of key theoretical differences exist between a presidential and a cabinet system:
  • In a presidential system, the central principle is that the legislative and executive
    Executive (government)
    Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

     branches of government should be 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
    Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

     and dismissal. In addition he or she does not need to choose cabinet members commanding the support of the legislature. By contrast, in parliamentarism
    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....

    , the executive branch is led by a council of ministers, headed by a Prime Minister
    Prime minister
    A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

    , who are directly accountable to the legislature and often have their background in the legislature (regardless of whether it is called a "parliament", 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 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
    Veto
    A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

     over legislation of bills, in some cases subject to the power of the legislature by weighed majority to override the veto. However, it is extremely rare for the president to have the power to directly propose laws, or cast a vote on legislation. The legislature and the president are thus expected to serve as checks and balances 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 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
    A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

    . 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 (but see also polarization
Polarization (politics)
In politics, polarization is the process by which the public opinion divides and goes to the extremes. It can also refer to when the extreme factions of a political party gain dominance in a party. In either case moderate voices often lose power and influence as a consequence.-Definitions of...

). In the 1950s, during the leadership of Lyndon Johnson, the Senate Democrats included the right
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

-most members of the chamber—Harry Byrd
Harry F. Byrd
Harry Flood Byrd, Sr. of Berryville in Clarke County, Virginia, was an American newspaper publisher, farmer and politician. He was a descendant of one of the First Families of Virginia...

 and Strom Thurmond
Strom Thurmond
James Strom Thurmond was an American politician who served as a United States Senator. He also ran for the Presidency of the United States in 1948 as the segregationist States Rights Democratic Party candidate, receiving 2.4% of the popular vote and 39 electoral votes...

, and the left
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

-most members—Paul Douglas
Paul Douglas
Paul Howard Douglas was an liberal American politician and University of Chicago economist. A war hero, he was elected as a Democratic U.S. Senator from Illinois from in the 1948 landslide, serving until his defeat in 1966...

 and Herbert Lehman. This pattern does not prevail in 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 answerable to 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
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, many appointments must be confirmed by the 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...

, although once confirmed an appointee can only be removed against the President's will through impeachment
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

. By contrast, though answerable to parliament, a parliamentary system's cabinet may be able to make use of the parliamentary 'whip
Whip (politics)
A whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party's "enforcers", who typically offer inducements and threaten punishments for party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy...

' (an obligation on party members in parliament to vote with their party) to control and dominate parliament, reducing parliament's ability to control the government.

Some countries, such as France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 have similarly evolved to such a degree that they can no longer be accurately described as either presidential or parliamentary-style governments, and are instead grouped under the category of semi-presidential system
Semi-presidential system
The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a president and a prime minister are both active participants in the day-to-day administration of the state...

.

Republics with a presidential system of government



  • Afghanistan
    Afghanistan
    Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

  • Argentina
    Argentina
    Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

  • Armenia
    Armenia
    Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

  • Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

  • Belarus
    Belarus
    Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

  • Bolivia
    Bolivia
    Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

  • Brazil
    Brazil
    Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

  • Chile
    Chile
    Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

  • Colombia
    Colombia
    Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

  • Costa Rica
    Costa Rica
    Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

  • Cyprus
    Cyprus
    Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

  • Dominican Republic
    Dominican Republic
    The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...


  • Ecuador
    Ecuador
    Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

  • El Salvador
    El Salvador
    El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

  • Guatemala
    Guatemala
    Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

  • Haiti
    Haiti
    Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

  • Honduras
    Honduras
    Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

  • Indonesia
    Indonesia
    Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

  • Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

  • Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

  • Kenya
    Kenya
    Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

  • Liberia
    Liberia
    Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

  • Maldives
    Maldives
    The Maldives , , officially Republic of Maldives , also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls oriented north-south off India's Lakshadweep islands, between Minicoy Island and...

  • Marshall Islands
    Marshall Islands
    The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...


  • Mexico
    Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

  • Myanmar
    Myanmar
    Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

  • Nauru
    Nauru
    Nauru , officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just...

  • Nicaragua
    Nicaragua
    Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

  • Nigeria
    Nigeria
    Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

  • Panama
    Panama
    Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

  • Paraguay
    Paraguay
    Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

  • Peru
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

  • Philippines
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

  • Seychelles
    Seychelles
    Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

  • Sierra Leone
    Sierra Leone
    Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

  • South Korea
    South Korea
    The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...


  • South Sudan
    South Sudan
    South Sudan , officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country located in the Sahel region of northeastern Africa. It is also part of the North Africa UN sub-region. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city; the capital city is planned to be moved to the more...

  • Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

  • Sudan
    Sudan
    Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

  • Suriname
    Suriname
    Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

  • Tanzania
    Tanzania
    The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

  • Uganda
    Uganda
    Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

  • United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

  • Uruguay
    Uruguay
    Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

  • Uzbekistan
    Uzbekistan
    Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

  • Venezuela
    Venezuela
    Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

  • Zambia
    Zambia
    Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....



See also

  • 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....

  • Rotating Regional Primary System
    Rotating Regional Primary System
    The Rotating Regional Primary System is a proposed system for reform of the United States presidential primary process. Under the plan, the country would be divided into four regions...

  • Semi-presidential system
    Semi-presidential system
    The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a president and a prime minister are both active participants in the day-to-day administration of the state...


External links