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A state president , often just president (from the Latin praesidere , to have the presidency), is usually the head of state of a republic . Depending on the state system, the office is awarded by a (general) popular election , by an election committee , by the legislature or by other procedures. In some cases, presidents are also appointed in dictatorships . The term also exists in some non-sovereign administrative units , especially those with a certain degree of autonomy that have a constitution, one then speaks of country president or regional president , provincial president and the like.

The German translation as " Chairman " can be deceiving, since, for example, in Germany and Austria the Federal Presidents do not chair any body, but as individuals are administrators of a state body. In Switzerland, on the other hand, the Federal President is a real chairman of the government body .

The President in Democracy

The position and powers of the president are usually determined by a written constitution . It is integrated into a system of separation of powers or at least into a system of strict control of power by the constitution.

presidential democracy

Here the President combines the functions of the head of state and the head of government . He has great powers. The president is then usually directly elected by the people , which legitimizes his strong position.

Typical presidential systems of government are that of the USA (with the president being elected indirectly through so-called electors ) and most Latin American states.

Parliamentary democracy

Here the president is only head of state. Depending on the state, it is elected by the legislature ( parliament ) or directly by the people and has mainly representative functions. The actual leadership of the executive ( government ) is the task of a Prime Minister , Prime Minister , Federal Chancellor , District President or similarly named Head of Government, depending on the country , whose government is dependent on the confidence of Parliament.

Typical parliamentary systems of government are those of Germany , Italy , Poland and the Czech Republic .

Parliament-bound executive power

The systems of South Africa , Botswana , the Federated States of Micronesia or Nauru , for example, are a special form . In this case, the executive power is tied to parliament, that is, the head of government elected by parliament is also the head of state . Since a clear assignment to the presidential or parliamentary system is very difficult, it is usually viewed as an independent system of government .

Semi-presidential democracy

Here the president and parliament compete for power. If the president is supported by a parliamentary majority, he has extensive powers. If the parliamentary majority and the president belong to different parties, there is cohabitation ( French cohabitation ) and the president's power is limited.

Typical semi-presidential systems of government are those of Portugal , Austria , São Tomé and Príncipes , the Ukraine , France and Russia - although the latter two tend towards the presidential system in political practice. In Austria, the Federal President acts primarily as a representative. Only in times of crisis does he intervene more comprehensively in everyday politics.

Exceptions and special features

Countries without a formal head of state

A few republics have no head of state . This includes Switzerland, for example . In Switzerland, the state government exercises the function of head of state as a collective . There is a Federal President who is also a member of the Federal Council . He is elected by parliament for one year. However, he is only primus inter pares (first among equals), who only exercises the representative function of head of state at the international level.

Situation in the German states

The former German states of Württemberg-Hohenzollern and Baden had a head of government with the official title of State President , but in these two cases this should not hide the fact that the office and function fully corresponded to that of a Prime Minister of today's German states . It's the same in as president designated leaders of some countries of the Weimar Republic , such as the government in Baden , Hesse and Wuerttemberg . In Bavaria they wanted to introduce a state president at the beginning of the 1950s, but decided to leave the role of head of state to the minister-president of the Free State, who from now on, like other German state heads of government, has his official seat in the state chancellery .

Situation in the Austrian countries

The historic crown lands were originally headed by the emperor's governors , who in the course of the state reforms of 1848/49 and 1867 were given the title of state president . But they were the heads of government of the formally sovereign kingdoms, duchies and principalities, with the emperor as the respective sovereign , so that one generally spoke of country chiefs. From this the governor developed after 1918 . The governor unites the functions of the head of the state and the head of government. The governor, with his party majority in the state council and state parliament, often has largely sole power within the framework of the state's competencies . Therefore, ironically, especially with the long-serving state governors who have profoundly shaped their countries, one speaks of "state emperors": No matter how much the republic after the experiences of the monarchy - and also of Austrofascism and the Nazi era - prevented a "strong man" at the top sought, so autocratic conditions prevail at the state level.

Situation in dictatorships

In dictatorships , the title of president is often adopted by self-proclaimed leaders - an example of this is Uganda's ex-president Idi Amin . Some state socialist regimes also know or have known presidents, but power lies with the party's central committee and in particular its chairman ( see chairman of the State Council ).

Situation in Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a republic, but the head of state is the supreme leader , the president is only the head of government . It is a theocratic system.

Presidents of the various states

Title "Federal President"

Title "President"

Title "President of the Republic"

President of the Republic is or was the official title of head of state in:



See also

Web links

Wiktionary: President  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. cf. on this as a standard work, for example: Felix Ermacora : Austrian Federalism: from the patrimonial to the cooperative federal state. Volume 3 of the series of publications by the Institute for Research on Federalism , Institute for Research on Federalism (Innsbruck), Verlag W. Braumüller, 1976.