Presidential system

Forms of government.svg
Systems of government
Republican forms of government:
  Presidential republics with an executive presidency separate from the legislature
  Semi-presidential system with both an executive presidency and a separate head of government that leads the legislature, who is appointed by the president
  Parliamentary republics with a ceremonial and non-executive president, where a separate head of government leads the executive
  Parliamentary republics with an executive presidency dependent on the legislature

Monarchical forms of government:
  Constitutional monarchies with a ceremonial and non-executive monarch, where a separate head of government leads the executive
  Constitutional monarchies with a ceremonial monarch, but where royalty still hold significant executive and/or legislative power
  Absolute monarchies where the monarch leads the executive

  Countries which do not fit any of the above systems (e.g. transitional government or unclear political situations)

A presidential system is a democratic and republican system of government where a head of government leads an executive branch that is separate from the legislative branch. This head of government is in most cases also the head of state, which is called president.

In presidential countries, the executive is elected and is not responsible to the legislature, which cannot in normal circumstances dismiss it. Such dismissal is possible, however, in uncommon cases, often through impeachment.

The title "president" has persisted from a time when such person personally presided over the governing body, as with the President of the Continental Congress in the early United States, prior to the executive function being split into a separate branch of government.

A presidential system contrasts with a parliamentary system, where the head of government is elected to power through the legislative. There is also a hybrid system called semi-presidentialism.

Countries that feature a presidential or semi-presidential system of government are not the exclusive users of the title of president. Heads of state of parliamentary republics, largely ceremonial in most cases, are called presidents. Dictators or leaders of one-party states, popularly elected or not, are also often called presidents.

Presidentialism is the dominant form of government in the continental Americas, with 19 of its 22 sovereign states being presidential republics. It is also prevalent in Central and southern West Africa and in Central Asia. There are no presidential republics in Europe (except for Belarus and Cyprus) and Oceania.


In a full-fledged presidential system, a politician is chosen directly by the public or indirectly by the winning party to be the head of government. Except for Belarus and Kazakhstan, this head of government is also the head of state, and is therefore called president. The post of prime minister (also called premier) may also exist in a presidential system, but unlike in semi-presidential or parliamentary systems, the prime minister answers to the president and not to the legislature.

The following characteristics apply generally for the numerous presidential governments across the world:

  • The executive can veto legislative acts and, in turn, a supermajority of lawmakers may override the veto. The veto is generally derived from the British tradition of royal assent in which an act of parliament can only be enacted with the assent of the monarch.
  • The president has a fixed term of office. Elections are held at regular times and cannot be triggered by a vote of confidence or other parliamentary procedures, although in some countries there is an exception which provides for the removal of a president who is found to have broken a law.
  • The executive branch is unipersonal. Members of the cabinet serve at the pleasure of the president and must carry out the policies of the executive and legislative branches. Cabinet ministers or executive departmental chiefs are not members of the legislature.[citation needed] However, presidential systems often need legislative approval of executive nominations to the cabinet, judiciary, and various lower governmental posts. A president generally can direct members of the cabinet, military, or any officer or employee of the executive branch, but cannot direct or dismiss judges.
  • The president can often pardon or commute sentences of convicted criminals.
Other Languages
Alemannisch: Präsidialrepublik
العربية: نظام رئاسي
Avañe'ẽ: Mburuvicharape
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Прэзыдэнцкая рэспубліка
ދިވެހިބަސް: ރިޔާސީ ނިޒާމު
한국어: 대통령제
Bahasa Indonesia: Sistem presidensial
íslenska: Forsetaræði
latviešu: Prezidentālisms
မြန်မာဘာသာ: သမ္မတစနစ်
日本語: 大統領制
norsk nynorsk: Presidentialisme
português: Presidencialismo
slovenščina: Predsedniški sistem
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Predsednički sistem
Tiếng Việt: Tổng thống chế
粵語: 總統制
中文: 总统制