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Heads of state of various countries:

  • Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria
  • Halimah Yacob, President of Singapore
  • Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
  • A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state[1] in its unity and legitimacy. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead (such as the British Monarch) or concurrently the head of government and more (such as the President of the United States, who is also commander-in-chief of the US Armed Forces).

    In a parliamentary system, such as India and Pakistan, the head of state usually has mostly ceremonial powers, with a separate head of government.[2] However, in some parliamentary systems, like South Africa, there is an executive president that is both head of state and head of government. Likewise, in some parliamentary systems the head of state is not the head of government, but still has significant powers, for example Morocco. In contrast, a semi-presidential system, such as France, has both heads of state and government as the de facto leaders of the nation (in practice they divide the leadership of the nation among themselves). Meanwhile, in presidential systems such as the United States, the head of state is also the head of government.[1]

    Former French president Charles de Gaulle, while developing the current Constitution of France (1958), said that the head of state should embody l'esprit de la nation ("the spirit of the nation").[3]

    Constitutional models

    Some academic writers discuss states and governments in terms of "models".[4][5][6][7]

    An independent nation state normally has a head of state, and determines the extent of its head's executive powers of government or formal representational functions.[8] In terms of protocol: the head of a sovereign, independent state is usually identified as the person who, according to that state's constitution, is the reigning monarch, in the case of a monarchy; or the president, in the case of a republic.

    Among the state constitutions (fundamental laws) that establish different political systems, four major types of heads of state can be distinguished:

    1. The parliamentary system, with two subset models;
      1. The standard model, in which the head of state, in theory, possesses key executive powers, but such power is exercised on the binding advice of a head of government (e.g. United Kingdom, India, Germany).
      2. The non-executive model, in which the head of state has either none or very limited executive powers, and mainly has a ceremonial and symbolic role (e.g. Sweden, Japan, Israel).
    2. The semi-presidential system, in which the head of state shares key executive powers with a head of government or cabinet (e.g. Russia, France, Sri Lanka); and
    3. The presidential system, in which the head of state is also the head of government and has all executive powers (e.g. United States, Indonesia, South Korea).

    In a federal constituent or a dependent territory, the same role is fulfilled by the holder of an office corresponding to that of a head of state. For example, in each Canadian province the role is fulfilled by the lieutenant governor, whereas in most British Overseas Territories the powers and duties are performed by the governor. The same applies to Australian states, Indian states, etc. Hong Kong's constitutional document, the Basic Law, for example, specifies the chief executive as the head of the special administrative region, in addition to their role as the head of government. These non-sovereign-state heads, nevertheless, have limited or no role in diplomatic affairs, depending on the status and the norms and practices of the territories concerned.

    Parliamentary system

    World's parliamentary states (as of 2020):
      Republics with an executive president elected by a parliament
      Parliamentary republics
      Parliamentary constitutional monarchies in which the monarch usually does not personally exercise power
      Presidential republics, one-party states, and other forms of government

    In a parliamentary system, such as India and Pakistan, the head of state usually has mostly ceremonial powers, with a separate head of government.[2] However, in some parliamentary systems, like South Africa, there is an executive president that is both head of state and head of government. Likewise, in some parliamentary systems the head of state is not the head of government, but still has significant powers, for example Morocco. In contrast, a semi-presidential system, such as France, has both heads of state and government as the de facto leaders of the nation (in practice they divide the leadership of the nation among themselves). Meanwhile, in presidential systems such as the United States, the head of state is also the head of government.[1]

    Former French president Charles de Gaulle, while developing the current Constitution of France (1958), said that the head of state should embody l'esprit de la nation ("the spirit of the nation").[3]

    Some academic writers discuss states and governments in terms of "models".[4][5][6][7]

    An independent nation state normally has a head of state, and determines the extent of its head's executive powers of government or formal representational functions.[8] In terms of protocol: the head of a sovereign, independent state is usually identified as the person who, according to that state's constitution, is the reigning monarch, in the case of a monarchy; or the president, in the case of a republic.

    Among the state constitutions (fundamental laws) that establish different political systems, four major types of heads of state can be distinguished:

    1. The parliamentary system, with two subset models;
      1. The standard model, in which the head of state, in theory, possesses key executive powers, but such power is exercised on the binding advice of a head of government (e.g. United Kingdom, India, Germany).
      2. The non-executive model, in which the head of state has either none or very limited executive powers, and mainly has a ceremonial and symbolic role (e.g. Sweden, Japan, Israel).
    2. The semi-presidential system, in which the head of state shares key executive powers with a head of government or cabinet (e.g. Russia, France, Sri Lanka); and
    3. The presidential system, in which the head of state is also the head of government and has all executive powers (e.g. United States, Indonesia, South Korea).

    In a federal constituent or a dependent territory, the same role is fulfilled by the holder of an office corresponding to that of a head of state. For example, in each Canadian province the role is fulfilled by the lieutenant governor, whereas in most British Overseas Territories the powers and duties are performed by the governor. The same applies to Australian states, Indian states, etc. Hong Kong's constitutional document, the Basic Law, for example, specifies the chief executive as the head of the special administrative region, in addition to their role as the head of government. These non-sovereign-state heads, nevertheless, have limited or no role in diplomatic affairs, depending on the status and the norms and practices of the territories concerned.

    Parliamentary system

    World's parliamentary states (as of 2020):
      Republics with an executive president elected by a parliament
      Parliamentary republics
      Parliamentary constitutional monarchies in which the monarch usually does not personally exercise power
      Presidential republics, one-party states, and other forms of government

    Standard model

    In parliamentary systems the head of state may be merely the nominal chief executive officer, heading the executive branch of the state, and possessing limited executive power. In reality, however, following a process of constitutional evolution, powers are usually only exercised by direction of a cabinet, presided over by a head of government who is answerable to the legislature. This accountability and legitimacy requires that someone be chosen who has a majority support in the legislature (or, at least, not a majority opposition – a subtle but important difference). It also gives the legislature the right to vote down the head of government and their cabinet, forcing it either to resign or seek a parliamentary dissolution. The executive branch is thus said to be responsible (or answerable) to the legislature, with the head of government and cabinet in turn accepting constitutional responsibility for offering constitutional advice to the head of state.

    In parliamentary constitutional monarchies, the legitimacy of the unelected head of state typically derives from the tacit approval of the people via the elected representatives. Accordingly, at the time of the Glorious Revolution, the English parliament acted of its own authority to name a new king and queen (the joint monarchs Mary II and William III); likewise, Edward VIII's abdication required the approval of each of the six independent realms of which he was monarch. In monarchies with a written constitution, the position of monarch is a creature of the constitution and could quite properly be abolished through a democratic procedure of constitutional amendment, although there are often significant procedural hurdles imposed on such a procedure (as in the Constitution of Spain).

    In republics with a parliamentary system (such as India, Germany, Austria, Italy and Israel) the head of state is usually titled president and the principal functions of such presidents are mainly ceremonial and symbolic, as opposed to the presidents in a presidential or semi-presidential system.

    President Pranab Mukherjee, head of state of the Republic of India from July 2012 to July 2017

    In reality, numero

    An independent nation state normally has a head of state, and determines the extent of its head's executive powers of government or formal representational functions.[8] In terms of protocol: the head of a sovereign, independent state is usually identified as the person who, according to that state's constitution, is the reigning monarch, in the case of a monarchy; or the president, in the case of a republic.

    Among the state constitutions (fundamental laws) that establish different political systems, four major types of heads of state can be distinguished:

    In a federal constituent or a dependent territory, the same role is fulfilled by the holder of an office corresponding to that of a head of state. For example, in each Canadian province the role is fulfilled by the lieutenant governor, whereas in most British Overseas Territories the powers and duties are performed by the governor. The same applies to Australian states, Indian states, etc. Hong Kong's constitutional document, the Basic Law, for example, specifies the chief executive as the head of the special administrative region, in addition to their role as the head of government. These non-sovereign-state heads, nevertheless, have limited or no role in diplomatic affairs, depending on the status and the norms and practices of the territories concerned.

    Parliamentary system

    World's parliamentary states (as of 2020):
    parliamentary systems the head of state may be merely the nominal chief executive officer, heading the executive branch of the state, and possessing limited executive power. In reality, however, following a process of constitutional evolution, powers are usually only exercised by direction of a cabinet, presided over by a head of government who is answerable to the legislature. This accountability and legitimacy requires that someone be chosen who has a majority support in the legislature (or, at least, not a majority opposition – a subtle but important difference). It also gives the legislature the right to vote down the head of government and their cabinet, forcing it either to resign or seek a parliamentary dissolution. The executive branch is thus said to be responsible (or answerable) to the legislature, with the head of government and cabinet in turn accepting constitutional responsibility for offering constitutional advice to the head of state.

    In parliamentary constitutional monarchies, the legitimacy of the unelected head of state typically derives from the tacit approval of the people via the elected representatives. Accordingly, at the time of the Glorious Revolution, the English parliament acted of its own authority to name a new king and queen (the joint monarchs Mary II and William III); likewise, Edward VIII's abdication required the approval of each of the six independent realms of which he was monarch. In monarchies with a written constitution, the position of monarch is a creature of the constitution and could quite properly be abolished through a democratic procedure of constitutional amendment, although there are often significant procedural hurdles imposed on such a procedure (as in the Constitution of Spain).

    In republics with a parliamentary system (such as India, Germany, Austria, Italy and Israel) the head of state is usually titled president and the principal functions of such presidents are mainly ceremonial and symbolic, as opposed to the presidents in a presidential or semi-presidential system.

    President Pranab Mukherjee, head of state

    In parliamentary constitutional monarchies, the legitimacy of the unelected head of state typically derives from the tacit approval of the people via the elected representatives. Accordingly, at the time of the Glorious Revolution, the English parliament acted of its own authority to name a new king and queen (the joint monarchs Mary II and William III); likewise, Edward VIII's abdication required the approval of each of the six independent realms of which he was monarch. In monarchies with a written constitution, the position of monarch is a creature of the constitution and could quite properly be abolished through a democratic procedure of constitutional amendment, although there are often significant procedural hurdles imposed on such a procedure (as in the Constitution of Spain).

    In republics with a parliamentary system (such as India, Germany, Austria, Italy and Israel) the head of state is usually titled president and the principal functions of such presidents are mainly ceremonial and symbolic, as opposed to the presidents in a presidential or semi-presidential system.

    In reality, numerous variants exist to the position of a head of state within a parliamentary system. The older the constitution, the more constitutional leeway tends to exist for a head of state to exercise greater powers over government, as many older parliamentary system constitutions in fact give heads of state powers and functions akin to presidential or semi-presidential systems, in some cases without containing reference to modern democratic principles of accountability to parliament or even to modern governmental offices. Usually, the king had the power of declaring war without previous consent of the parliament.

    For example, under the 1848 constitution of the Kingdom of Italy, the Statuto Albertino—the parliamentary approval to the government appointed by the king—was customary, but not required by law. So, Italy had a de facto parliamentarian system, but a de jure "presidential" system.

    Examples of heads of state in parliamentary systems using greater powers than usual, either because of ambiguous constitutions or unprecedented national emergencies, include the decision by King Leopold III of the Belgians to surrender on behalf of his state to the invading German army in 1940, against the will of his government. Judging that his responsibility to the nation by virtue of his coronation oath required him to act, he believed that his government's decision to fight rather than surrender was mistaken and would damage Belgium. (Leopold's decision proved highly controversial. After World War II, Belgium voted in a referendum to allow him to resume his monarchial powers and duties, but because of the ongoing controversy he ultimately abdicated.) The Belgian constitutional crisis in 1990, when

    For example, under the 1848 constitution of the Kingdom of Italy, the Statuto Albertino—the parliamentary approval to the government appointed by the king—was customary, but not required by law. So, Italy had a de facto parliamentarian system, but a de jure "presidential" system.

    Examples of heads of state in parliamentary systems using greater powers than usual, either because of ambiguous constitutions or unprecedented national emergencies, include the decision by King Leopold III of the Belgians to surrender on behalf of his state to the invading German army in 1940, against the will of his government. Judging that his responsibility to the nation by virtue of his coronation oath required him to act, he believed that his government's decision to fight rather than surrender was mistaken and would damage Belgium. (Leopold's decision proved highly controversial. After World War II, Belgium voted in a referendum to allow him to resume his monarchial powers and duties, but because of the ongoing controversy he ultimately abdicated.) The Belgian constitutional crisis in 1990, when the head of state refused to sign into law a bill permitting abortion, was resolved by the cabinet assuming the power to promulgate the law while he was treated as "unable to reign" for twenty-four hours.[9][10]

    These officials are excluded completely from the executive: they do not possess even theoretical executive powers or any role, even formal, within the government. Hence their states' governments are not referred to by the traditional parliamentary model head of state styles of His/Her Majesty's Government or His/Her Excellency's Government. Within this general category, variants in terms of powers and functions may exist.

    The Constitution of Japan (日本国憲法, Nihonkoku-Kenpō) was drawn up under the Allied occupation that followed World War II and was intended to replace the previous militaristic and quasi-absolute monarchy system with a form of liberal democracy parliamentary system. The constitution explicitly vests all executive power in the Cabinet, who is chaired by the prime minister (articles 65 and 66) and responsible to the Diet (articles 67 and 69). The emperor is defined in the constitution as "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people" (article 1), and is generally recognised throughout the world as the Japanese head of state. Although the emperor formally appoints the prime minister to office, article 6 of the constitution requires him to appoint the candidate "as designated by the Diet", without any right to decline appointment. He is a ceremonial figurehead with no independent discretionary powers related to the governance of Japan.[11][12][13]

    Since the passage in Sweden of the 1974 Instrument of Government, the Swedish monarch no longer has many of the standard parliamen

    The Constitution of Japan (日本国憲法, Nihonkoku-Kenpō) was drawn up under the Allied occupation that followed World War II and was intended to replace the previous militaristic and quasi-absolute monarchy system with a form of liberal democracy parliamentary system. The constitution explicitly vests all executive power in the Cabinet, who is chaired by the prime minister (articles 65 and 66) and responsible to the Diet (articles 67 and 69). The emperor is defined in the constitution as "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people" (article 1), and is generally recognised throughout the world as the Japanese head of state. Although the emperor formally appoints the prime minister to office, article 6 of the constitution requires him to appoint the candidate "as designated by the Diet", without any right to decline appointment. He is a ceremonial figurehead with no independent discretionary powers related to the governance of Japan.[11][12][13]

    Since the passage in Sweden of the 1974 Instrument of Government, the Swedish monarch no longer has many of the standard parliamentary system head of state functions that had previously belonged to him or her, as was the case in the preceding 1809 Instrument of Government. Today, the speaker of the Riksdag appoints (following a vote in the Riksdag) the prime minister and terminates his or her commission following a vote of no confidence or voluntary resignation. Cabinet members are appointed and dismissed at the sole discretion of the prime minister. Laws and ordinances are promulgated by two Cabinet members in unison signing "On Behalf of the Government" and the government—not the monarch—is the high contracting party with respect to international treaties. The remaining official functions of the sovereign, by constitutional mandate or by unwritten convention, are to open the annual session of the Riksdag, receive foreign ambassadors and sign the letters of credence for Swedish ambassadors, chair the foreign advisory committee, preside at the special Cabinet council when a new prime minister takes office, and to be kept informed by the prime minister on matters of state.[14][15]

    In contrast, the only contact the president of Ireland has with the Irish government is through a formal briefing session given by the taoiseach (head of government) to the president. However, he or she has no access to documentation and all access to ministers goes through the Department of the Taoiseach. The president does, however, hold limited reserve powers, such as referring a bill to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality, which are used under the president's discretion.[16]

    The most extreme non-executive republican head of state is the president of Israel, which holds no reserve powers whatsoever[citation needed]. The least ceremonial powers held by the president are to appoint the prime minister, to approve the dissolution of the Knesset made by the prime minister, and to pardon criminals or to commute their sentence.

    Some parliamentary republics (like South Africa, Botswana and Myanmar) have fused the roles of the head of state with the head of government (like in a presidential system), while having the sole executive officer, often called a president, being dependent on the Parliament's confidence to rule (like in a parliamentary system). While also being the leading symbol of the nation, the president in this system acts mostly as a prime minister, since the incumbent must be a member of the legislature at the time of the election, answer question sessions in Parliament, avoid motions of no confidence, etc.

    Semi-presidential systems

    One of the most important roles of the modern head of state is being a living national symbol of the state; in hereditary monarchies this extends to the monarch being a symbol of the unbroken continuity of the state. For instance, the Canadian monarch is described by the government as being the personification of the Canadian state and is described by the Department of Canadian Heritage as the "personal symbol of allegiance, unity and authority for all Canadians".[26][27]

    In many countries, official portraits of the head of state can be found in government offices, courts of law, or other public buildings. The idea, sometimes regulated by law, is to use these portraits to make the public aware of the symbolic connection to the government, a practice that dates back to medieval times. Sometimes this practice is taken to excess, and the head of state becomes the principal symbol of the nation, resulting in the emergence of a personality cult where the image of the head of state is the only visual representation of the country, surpassing other symbols such as the flag.

    Other common representations are on coins, postage and other stamps and banknotes, sometimes by no more than a mention or signature; and public places, streets, monuments and institutions such as schools are named for current or previous heads of state. In monarchies (e.g., Belgium) there can even be a practice to attribute the adjective "royal" on demand based on existence for a given number of years. However, such political techniques can also be used by leaders without the formal rank of head of state, even party - and other revolutionary leaders without formal state mandate.

    Heads of state often greet important foreign visitors, particularly visiting heads of state. They assume a host role during a state visit, and the programme may feature playing of the national anthems by a military band, inspection of military troops, official exchange of gifts, and attending a state dinner at the official residence of the host.

    At home, heads of state are expected to render lustre to various occasions by their presence, such as by attending artistic or sports performances or competitions (often in a theatrical honour box, on a platform, on the front row, at the honours table), expositions, national day celebrations, dedication events, military parades and war remembrances, prominent funerals, visiting different parts of the country and people from different walks of life, and at times performing symbolic acts such as cutting a ribbon, groundbreaking, ship christening, laying the first stone. Some parts of national life receive their regular attention, often on an annual basis, or even in the form of official patronage.

    The Olympic Charter (rule 55.3) of the International Olympic Committee states that the Olympic summer and winter games shall be opened by the head of state of the host nation, by uttering a single formulaic phrase as determined by the charter.[28]

    As such invitations may be very numerous, such duties are often in part delegated to such persons as a spouse, a head of government or a cabinet minister or in other ca

    One of the most important roles of the modern head of state is being a living national symbol of the state; in hereditary monarchies this extends to the monarch being a symbol of the unbroken continuity of the state. For instance, the Canadian monarch is described by the government as being the personification of the Canadian state and is described by the Department of Canadian Heritage as the "personal symbol of allegiance, unity and authority for all Canadians".[26][27]

    In many countries, official portraits of the head of state can be found in government offices, courts of law, or other public buildings. The idea, sometimes regulated by law, is to use these portraits to make the public aware of the symbolic connection to the government,

    In many countries, official portraits of the head of state can be found in government offices, courts of law, or other public buildings. The idea, sometimes regulated by law, is to use these portraits to make the public aware of the symbolic connection to the government, a practice that dates back to medieval times. Sometimes this practice is taken to excess, and the head of state becomes the principal symbol of the nation, resulting in the emergence of a personality cult where the image of the head of state is the only visual representation of the country, surpassing other symbols such as the flag.

    Other common representations are on coins, postage and other stamps and banknotes, sometimes by no more than a mention or signature; and public places, streets, monuments and institutions such as schools are named for current or previous heads of state. In monarchies (e.g., Belgium) there can even be a practice to attribute the adjective "royal" on demand based on existence for a given number of years. However, such political techniques can also be used by leaders without the formal rank of head of state, even party - and other revolutionary leaders without formal state mandate.

    Heads of state often greet important foreign visitors, particularly visiting heads of state. They assume a host role during a state visit, and the programme may feature playing of the national anthems by a military band, inspection of military troops, official exchange of gifts, and attending a state dinner at the official residence of the host.

    At home, heads of state are expected to render lustre to various occasions by their presence, such as by attending artistic or sports performances or competitions (often in a theatrical honour box, on a platform, on the front row, at the honours table), expositions, national day celebrations, dedication events, military parades and war remembrances, prominent funerals, visiting different parts of the country and people from different walks of life, and at times performing symbolic acts such as cutting a ribbon, groundbreaking, ship christening, laying the first stone. Some parts of national life receive their regular attention, often on an annual basis, or even in the form of official patronage.

    The Olympic Charter (rule 55.3) of the International Olympic Committee states that the Olympic summer and winter games shall be opened by the head of state of the host nation, by uttering a single formulaic phrase as determined by the charter.[28]

    As such invitations may be very numerous, such duties are often in part delegated to such persons as a spouse, a head of government or a cabinet minister or in other cases (possibly as a message, for instance, to distance themselves without rendering offence) just a military officer or civil servant.

    For non-executive heads of state there is often a degree of censorship by the politically responsible government (such as the head of government). This means that the government discreetly approves agenda and speeches, especially where the constitution (or customary law) assumes all political responsibility by granting the crown inviolability (in fact also imposing political emasculation) as in the Kingdom of Belgium from its very beginning; in a monarchy this may even be extended to some degree to other members of the dynasty, especially the heir to the throne.

    Below follows a list of examples from different countries of general provisions in law, which either designate an office as head of state or define its general purpose.

    In the majority of states, whether republics or monarchies, executive authority is vested, at least notionally, in the head of state. In presidential systems the head of state is the actual, de facto chief executive officer. Under parliamentary systems the executive authority is exercised by the head of state, but in practice is done so on the advice of the cabinet of ministers. This produces such terms as "Her Majesty's Government" and "His Excellency's Government." Examples of parliamentary systems in which the head of state is notional chief executive include Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, India, Italy, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.

    Example 1 (parliamentary monarchy): According to Section 12 of the Constitution of Denmark 1953:
    Subject to the limitations laid down in this Constitution Act the King shall have the supreme authority in all the affairs of the Realm, and he shall exercise such supreme authority through the Ministers.[38]
    Example 2 (parliamentary absentee monarchy): Under Chapter II, Section 61 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900:
    The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth.[39]
    Example 3 (parliamentary republic): According to Article 26 (2) of the 1975 Constitution of Greece:
    The executive power shall be exercised by the President of the Republic and the Government.[40]
    Example 4 (parliamentary republic): According to Article 53 (1) of the Constitution of India:
    The executive power of the union shall be vested in the President and shall be exercised by him either directly or indirectly through the officers subordinate to him in accordance to the Constitution.[41]
    Example 5 (semi-presidential republic): Under Chapter 4, Article 80, Section 3 of the Constitution of Russia:
    The President of the Russian Federation shall, in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation and federal laws, determine the basic objectives of the internal and foreign policy of the State.[36]
    Example 6 (presidential republic): Title IV, Chapter II, Section I, Article 76 of the Constitution of Brazil:
    The Executive Power is exercised by the President of the Republic, assisted by the Ministers of State.[42]
    Example 7 (presidential republic): Article 2, Section 1 of the United States Constitution states:
    The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.[43]

    The few exceptions where the head of state is not even the nominal chief executive - and where supreme executive authority is according to the constitution explicitly vested in a cabinet - include the Czech Republic, Ireland, Israel, Japan and Sweden.[12][14]

    Appointment of senior officials

    The head of state usually appoints most or all the key officials in the government, including the head of government and other cabinet ministers, key judicial figures; and all major office holders in the civil service, foreign service and commissioned officers in the military. In many parliamentary systems, the head of government is appointed with the consent (in practice often decisive) of the legislature, and other figures are appointed on the head of government's advice.

    In practice, these decisions are often a formality. The last time the prime minister of the United Kingdom was unilaterally selected by the monarch was in 1963, when Queen Elizabeth II appointed Alec Douglas-Home on the advice of outgoing Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

    In presidential systems, such as that of the United States, appointments are nominated by the president's sole discretion, but this nomination is often subject to confirmation by the legislature; and specifically in the US, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Israel, Japan and Sweden.[12][14]

    Appointment of senior officials

    The head of state usually appoints most or all the key officials in the government, including the head of government and other cabinet ministers, key judicial figures; and all major office holders in the civil service, foreign service and commissioned officers in the military. In many parliamentary systems, the head of government is appointed with the consent (in practice often decisive) of the legislature, and other figures are appointed on the head of government's advice.

    In practice, these decisions are often a formality. The last time the prime minister of the United Kingdom was unilaterally selected by the monarch was in 1963, when Queen Elizabeth II appointed Alec Douglas-Home on the advice of outgoing Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

    In presidential systems, such as that of the United States, appointments are nominated by the president's sole discretion, but this nomination is often subject to confirmation by the legislature; and specifically in the US, the Senate has to approve senior executive branch and judicial appointments by a simple majority vote.[43]

    The head of state may also dismiss office-holders. There are many variants on how this can be done. For example, members of the Irish Cabinet are dismissed by the president on the advice of the taoiseach; in other instances, the head of state may be able to dismiss an office holder unilaterally; other heads of state, or their representatives, have the theoretical power to dismiss any office-holder, while it is exceptionally rarely used.[16] In France, while the president cannot force the prime minister to tender the resignation of the government, he can, in practice, request it if the prime minister is from his own majority.[44] In presidential systems, the president often has the power to fire ministers at his sole discretion. In the United States, the unwritten convention calls for the heads of the executive departments to resign on their own initiative when called to do so.

    Example 1 (parliamentary monarchy): Article 96 of the Constitution of Belgium:
    The King appoints and dismisses his ministers.
    The Federal Government offers its resignation to the King if the House of Representatives, by an absolute majority of its members, adopts a motion of no confidence propo

    The head of state usually appoints most or all the key officials in the government, including the head of government and other cabinet ministers, key judicial figures; and all major office holders in the civil service, foreign service and commissioned officers in the military. In many parliamentary systems, the head of government is appointed with the consent (in practice often decisive) of the legislature, and other figures are appointed on the head of government's advice.

    In practice, these decisions are often a formality. The last time the prime minister of the United Kingdom was unilaterally selected by the monarch was in 1963

    In practice, these decisions are often a formality. The last time the prime minister of the United Kingdom was unilaterally selected by the monarch was in 1963, when Queen Elizabeth II appointed Alec Douglas-Home on the advice of outgoing Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

    In presidential systems, such as that of the United States, appointments are nominated by the president's sole discretion, but this nomination is often subject to confirmation by the legislature; and specifically in the US, the Senate has to approve senior executive branch and judicial appointments by a simple majority vote.[43]

    The head of state may also dismiss office-holders. There are many variants on how this can be done. For example, members of the Irish Cabinet are dismissed by the president on the advice of the taoiseach; in other instances, the head of state may be able to dismiss an office holder unilaterally; other heads of state, or their representatives, have the theoretical power to dismiss any office-holder, while it is exceptionally rarely used.[16] In France, while the president cannot force the prime minister to tender the resignation of the government, he can, in practice, request it if the prime minister is from his own majority.[44] In presidential systems, the president often has the power to fire ministers at his sole discretion. In the United States, the unwritten convention calls for the heads of the executive departments to resign on their own initiative when called to do so.

    Some countries have alternative provisions for senior appointments: In Sweden, under the Instrument of Government of 1974, the Speaker of the Riksdag has the role of formally appointing the prime minister, following a vote in the Riksdag, and the prime minister in turn appoints and dismisses cabinet ministers at his/her sole discretion.[14]

    Diplomatic role

    Tekiso Hati, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Lesotho, presenting his credentials to Russian president Vladimir Putin
    Daniel B. Shapiro, U.S. ambassador to Israel, presents his credentials to Israeli president Shimon Peres on 3 August 2011
    A 1992 Letter of Credence, written in French, for the Czechoslovakian Ambassador to Lithuania, signed by the President of Czechoslovakia and addressed to his Lithuanian counterpart

    Although many constitutions, particularly from the 19th century and earlier, make no explicit mention of a head of state in the generic sense of several present day international treaties, the officeholders corresponding to this position are recognised as such by other countries.[11][46] In a monarchy, the monarch is generally understood to be the

    Although many constitutions, particularly from the 19th century and earlier, make no explicit mention of a head of state in the generic sense of several present day international treaties, the officeholders corresponding to this position are recognised as such by other countries.[11][46] In a monarchy, the monarch is generally understood to be the head of state.[11][47][48] The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which codified longstanding custom, operates under the presumption that the head of a diplomatic mission (i.e. ambassador or nuncio) of the sending state is accredited to the head of state of the receiving state.[49][46] The head of state accredits (i.e. formally validates) his or her country's ambassadors (or rarer equivalent diplomatic mission chiefs, such as high commissioner or papal nuncio) through sending formal a Letter of Credence (and a Letter of Recall at the end of a tenure) to other heads of state and, conversely, receives the letters of their foreign counterparts.[50] Without that accreditation, the chief of the diplomatic mission cannot take up their role and receive the highest diplomatic status. The role of a head of state in this regard, is codified in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations from 1961, which (as of 2017) 191 sovereign states has ratified.[46][51]

    However, there are provisions in the Vienna Convention that a diplomatic agent of lesser rank, such as a chargé d'affaires, is accredited to the minister of foreign affairs (or equivalent).[46]

    The head of state is often designated the high contracting party in international treaties on behalf of the state; signs them either personally or has them signed in his/her name by ministers (government members or diplomats); subsequent ratification, when necessary, may rest with the legislature. The treaties constituting the European Union and the European Communities are noteworthy contemporary cases of multilateral treaties cast in this traditional format, as are the accession agreements of new member states.[52][53][54] However, rather than being invariably concluded between two heads of state, it has become common that bilateral treaties are in present times cast in an intergovernmental format, e.g., between the Government of X and the Government of Y, rather than between His Majesty the King of X and His Excellency the President of Y.[52]

    Example 1 (parliamentary monarchy): Article 8 of the Constitution of the Principality of Liechtenstein states:
    1) The Reigning Prince shall represent the State in all its relations with foreign countries, without prejudice to the requisite participation of the responsible Government.
    2) Treaties by which territory of the State would be ceded, State property alienated, sovereign rights or prerogatives of the State affected, a new burden imposed on the Principality or its citizens, or an obligation assumed that would limit the rights of the citizens of Liechtenstein shall require the assent of Parliament to attain legal force.[22]
    Example 2 (parliamentary republic): Article 59 (1) of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany states:
    The Federal President shall represent the Federation in its international relations. He shall conclude treaties with foreign states on behalf of the Federation. He shall accredit and receive envoys..[55]
    Example 3 (semi-presidential republic): Title II, Article 14 of the chargé d'affaires, is accredited to the minister of foreign affairs (or equivalent).[46]

    The head of state is often designated the high contracting party in international treaties on behalf of the state; signs them either personally or has them signed in his/her name by ministers (government members or diplomats); subsequent ratification, when necessary, may rest with the legislature. The treaties constituting the European Union and the European Communities are noteworthy contemporary cases of multilateral treaties cast in this traditional format, as are the accession agreements of new member states.[52][53][54] However, rather than being invariably concluded between two heads of state, it has become common that bilateral treaties are in present times cast in an intergovernmental format, e.g., between the Government of X and the Government of Y, rather than between His Majesty the King of X and His Excellency the President of Y.[52]

    In Canada, these head of state powers belong to the monarch as part of the royal prerogative,[57][58][59][60] but the Governor General has been permitted to exercise them since 1947 and has done so since the 1970s.[60][61]

    Military role

    Albert II, King of the Belgians inspecting troops on Belgium's national day in 2011

    A head of state is often, by virtue of holding the highest executive powers, explicitly designated as the commander-in-chief of that nation's armed forces, holding the highest office in all military chains of command.

    In a constitutional monarchy or non-executive presidency, the head of state may de jure hold ultimate authority over the armed forces but will only normally, as per either written law or unwritten convention, exercise their authority on the advice of their responsible ministers: meaning that the de facto ultimate decision making on military manoeuvres is made elsewhere. The head of state will, regardless of actual authority, perform ceremonial duties related to the country's armed forces, and will sometimes appear in military uniform for these purposes; particularly in monarchies where also the monarc

    A head of state is often, by virtue of holding the highest executive powers, explicitly designated as the commander-in-chief of that nation's armed forces, holding the highest office in all military chains of command.

    In a constitutional monarchy or non-executive presidency, the head of state may de jure hold ultimate authority over the armed forces but will only normally, as per either written law or unwritten convention, exercise their authority on the advice of their responsible ministers: meaning that the de facto ultimate decision making on military manoeuvres is made elsewhere. The head of state will, regardless of actual authority, perform ceremonial duties related to the country's armed forces, and will sometimes appear in military uniform for these purposes; particularly in monarchies where also the monarch's consort and other members of a royal family may also appear in military garb. This is generally the only time a head of state of a stable, democratic country will appear dressed in such a manner, as statesmen and public are eager to assert the primacy of (civilian, elected) politics over the armed forces.

    In military dictatorships, or governments which have arisen from coups d'état, the position of commander-in-chief is obvious, as all authority in such a government derives from the application of military force; occasionally a power vacuum created by war is filled by a head of state stepping beyond his or her normal constitutional role, as King Albert I of Belgium did during World War I. In these and in revolutionary regimes, the head of state, and often executive ministers whose offices are legally civilian, will frequently appear in military uniform.

    Example 1 (parliamentary monarchy): Article III, Section 15 of the Constitution Act, 1867, a part of the Constitution of Canada, states:
    The Command-in-Chief of the Land and Naval Militia, and of all Naval and Military Forces, of and in Canada, is hereby declared to continue to be vested in the Queen.[62]
    Example 2 (parliamentary monarchy): Article 25 of the Constitution of Norway states:
    The King is Commander-in-Chief of the land and naval forces of the Realm. These forces may not be increased or reduced without the consent of the Storting. They may

    In a constitutional monarchy or non-executive presidency, the head of state may de jure hold ultimate authority over the armed forces but will only normally, as per either written law or unwritten convention, exercise their authority on the advice of their responsible ministers: meaning that the de facto ultimate decision making on military manoeuvres is made elsewhere. The head of state will, regardless of actual authority, perform ceremonial duties related to the country's armed forces, and will sometimes appear in military uniform for these purposes; particularly in monarchies where also the monarch's consort and other members of a royal family may also appear in military garb. This is generally the only time a head of state of a stable, democratic country will appear dressed in such a manner, as statesmen and public are eager to assert the primacy of (civilian, elected) politics over the armed forces.

    In military dictatorships, or governments which have arisen from coups d'état, the position of commander-in-chief is obvious, as all authority in such a government derives from the application of military force; occasionally a power vacuum created by war is filled by a head of state stepping beyond his or her normal constitutional role, as King Albert I of Belgium did during World War I. In these and in revolutionary regimes, the head of state, and often executive ministers whose offices are legally civilian, will frequently appear in military uniform.

    Some countries with a parliamentary system designate officials other than the head of state with command-in-chief powers.

    The armed forces of the Communist states are under the absolute control of the Communist party.

    Legislative roles

    It is usual that the head of state, particularly in parliamentary systems as part of the symbolic role, is the one who opens the annual sessions of the legislature, e.g. the annual State Opening of Parliament with the Speech from the Throne in Britain. Even in presidential systems the head of state often formally reports to the legislature on the present national status, e.g. the State of the Union address in the United States of America, or the State of the Nation Address in South Africa.

    Most countries require that all bills passed by the house or houses of the legislature be signed into law by the head of state. In some states, such as the United Kingdom, Belgium and Ireland, the head of state is, in fact, formally considered a tier of the legislature. However, in most parliamentary systems, the head of state cannot refuse to sign a bill, and, in granting a bill their assent, indicate that it was passed in accordance with the correct procedures. The signing of a bill into law is formally known as promulgation. Some monarchical states call this procedure royal assent.

    Example 1 (non-executive parliamentary monarchy): Chapter 1, Article 4 of the The armed forces of the Communist states are under the absolute control of the Communist party.

    Legislative roles

    It is usual that the head of state, particularly in parliamentary systems as part of the symbolic role, is the one who opens the annual sessions of the legislature, e.g. the annual State Opening of Parliament with the Speech from the Throne in Britain. Even in presidential systems the head of state often formally reports to the legislature on the present national status, e.g. the State Opening of Parliament with the Speech from the Throne in Britain. Even in presidential systems the head of state often formally reports to the legislature on the present national status, e.g. the State of the Union address in the United States of America, or the State of the Nation Address in South Africa.

    Most countries require that all bills passed by the house or houses of the legislature be signed into law by the head of state. In some states, such as the United Kingdom, Belgium and Ireland, the head of state is, in fact, formally considered a tier of the legislature. However, in most parliamentary systems, the head of state cannot refuse to sign a bill, and, in granting a bill their assent, indicate that it was passed in accordance with the correct procedures. The signing of a bill into law is formally known as promulgation. Some monarchical states call this procedure royal assent.

    Example 1 (non-executive parliamentary monarchy): Chapter 1, Article 4 of the Swedish Riksdag Act provides that:
    The formal opening of a Riksdag session takes place at a special meeting of the Chamber held no later than the third day of the session. At this

    Most countries require that all bills passed by the house or houses of the legislature be signed into law by the head of state. In some states, such as the United Kingdom, Belgium and Ireland, the head of state is, in fact, formally considered a tier of the legislature. However, in most parliamentary systems, the head of state cannot refuse to sign a bill, and, in granting a bill their assent, indicate that it was passed in accordance with the correct procedures. The signing of a bill into law is formally known as promulgation. Some monarchical states call this procedure royal assent.

    In some parliamentary systems, the head of state retains certain powers in relation to bills to be exercised at his or her discretion. They may have authority to veto a bill until the houses of the legislature have reconsidered it, and approved it a second time; reserve a bill to be signed later, or suspend it indefinitely (generally in states with royal prerogative; this power is rarely used); refer a bill to the courts to test its constitutionality; refer a bill to the people in a referendum.

    If he or she is also chief executive, he or she can thus politically control the necessary executive measures without which a proclaimed law can remain dead letter, sometimes for years or even forever.

    Summoning and dissolving the legislature

    A head of state is often empowered to summon and dissolve the country's legislature. In most parliamentary systems, this is often done on the advice of the head of government. In some parliamentary systems, and in some presidential systems, however, the head of state may do so on their own initiative. Some states have fixed term legislatures, with no option of bringing forward elections (e.g., Article II, Section 3, of the U.S. Constitution[43]). In other systems there are usually fixed terms, but the head of state retains authority to dissolve the legislature in certain circumstances. Where a head of government has lost support in the legislature, some heads of state may refuse a dissolution, where one is requested, thereby forcing the head of government's resignation.

    Example 1 (parliamentary non-executive republic): Article 13.2.2. of the Constitution of Ireland states:
    The President may in absolute discretion refuse to dissolve Dáil Éireann on the advice of a Taoiseach who has ceased to retain the support of a majority in Dáil Éireann.[16]
    Example 2 (semi-presidential republic): Title II, Article 12, first sentence of the French Constitution of 1958 states:
    The President of the Republic may, after consulting the Prime Minister and the Presidents of the Houses of Parliament, declare the National Assembly dissolved.[44]
    Example 3 (semi-presidential republic): Chapter 4, article 84 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation provides:
    The President of the Russian Federation:
    b) shall dissolve the State Duma in the cases and in accordance with the procedure provided for by the Constitution of the Russian Federation;[36]

    Other prerogatives

    Granting titles and honours

    Example 1 (parliamentary monarchy): Article 113 of the Constitution of Belgium states:
    The King may confer titles of nobility, without ever having the power to attach privileges to them.[45]
    Example 2 (parliamentary monarchy): Article 23 of the Constitution of Norway states:
    The King may bestow orders upon whomever he pleases as a reward for distinguished services, and such orders must be publicly announced, but no rank or title other than that attached to any office. The order exempts no one from the common duties and burdens of citizens, nor does it carry with it any preferential admission to senior official posts in the State. Senior officials honourably discharged from office retain the title and rank of their office. This does not apply, however, to Members of the Council of State or the State Secretaries.
    No personal, or mixed, hereditary privileges may henceforth be granted to anyone.
    [63]
    Example 3 (parliamentary republic): Title II, Article 87, 8th section of the Constitution of Italy states:
    The President shall confer the honorary distinctions of the Republic.[31]If he or she is also chief executive, he or she can thus politically control the necessary executive measures without which a proclaimed law can remain dead letter, sometimes for years or even forever.

    A head of state is often empowered to summon and dissolve the country's legislature. In most parliamentary systems, this is often done on the advice of the head of government. In some parliamentary systems, and in some presidential systems, however, the head of state may do so on their own initiative. Some states have fixed term legislatures, with no option of bringing forward elections (e.g., Article II, Section 3, of the U.S. Constitution[43]). In other systems there are usually fixed terms, but the head of state retains authority to dissolve the legislature in certain circumstances. Where a head of government has lost support in the legislature, some heads of state may refuse a dissolution, where one is requested, thereby forcing the head of government's resignation.

    Example 1 (parliamentary non-executive republic): Article 13.2.2. of the Constitution of Ireland states:
    The President may in absolute discretion refuse to dissolve republic, the head of state nowadays usually bears the title of President, but some have or had had other titles.[11][47] Titles commonly used by monarchs are King/Queen or Emperor/Empress, but also many other; e.g., Grand Duke, Prince, Emir and Sultan.

    Though president and various monarchical titles are most commonly used for heads of state, in some nationalistic regimes, the leader adopts, formally or de facto, a unique style simply meaning "leader" in the national language, e.g., Germany's single national socialist party chief and combined head of state and government, Adolf Hitler, as the Führer between 1934 and 1945.

    In 1959, when former British crown colony Singapore gained self-government, it adopted the Malay style Yang di-Pertuan Negara (literally means "head of state" in Malay) for its governor (the actual head of state remained the British monarch). The second and last incumbent of the office, Yusof bin Ishak, kept the style at 31 August 1963 unilateral declaration of independence and after 16 September 1963 accession to Malaysia as a state (so now as a constituent part of the federation, a non-sovereign level). After its expulsion from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, Singapore became a sovereign Commonwealth republic and installed Yusof bin Ishak as its first president.

    In 1959 after the resignation of Vice-President of Indonesia Mohammad Hatta, President Sukarno abolished the position and title of vice-president, assuming the positions of Prime Minister and Head of Cabinet. He also proclaimed himself president for life (Indonesian: Presiden Seumur Hidup Panglima Tertinggi; "panglima" meaning "commander or martial figurehead", "tertinggi" meaning "highest"; roughly translated to English as "Supreme Commander of the Revolution"). He was praised as "Paduka Yang Mulia", a Malay honorific originally given to kings; Sukarno awarded himself titles in that fashion due to his noble ancestry.

    There are also a few nations in which the exact title and definition of the office of head of state have been vague. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, following the downfall of Liu Shaoqi, who was State Chairman (Chinese President), no successor was named, so the duties of the head of state were transferred collectively to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. This situation was later changed: the Head of State of the PRC is now the President of the People's Republic of China. Although the presidency is a largely ceremonial office with limited power, the symbolic role of a Head of State is now generally performed by Xi Jinping, who is also General Secretary of the Communist Party (Communist Party leader) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (Supreme Military Command), making him the most powerful person in China.

    In North Korea, the late Kim Il-sung was named "Eternal President" 4 years after his death and the presidency was abolished. As a result, some of the duties previously held by the president are constitutionally delegated to the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, who performs some of the roles of a head of state, such as accrediting foreign ambassadors and undertaking overseas visits. However, the symbolic role of a Head of State is generally performed by Kim Jong-un, who as the leader of the party and military, is the most powerful person in North Korea.

    There is debate as to whether Samoa was an elective monarchy or an aristocratic republic, given the comparative ambiguity of the title O le Ao o le Malo and the nature of the head of state's office.

    In some states the office of head of state is not expressed in a specific title reflecting that role, but constitutionally awarded to a post of another formal nature. Thus in March 1979 Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who kept absolute power (until his overthrow in 2011 referred to as "Guide of the Revolution"), after ten years as combined Head of State and Head of government of the Libyan Jamahiriya ("state of the masses"), styled Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, formally transferred both qualities to the General secretaries of the General People's Congress (comparable to a Speaker) respectively to a Prime Minister, in political reality both were his creatures.

    Sometimes a head of state assumes office as a state becomes legal and political reality, before a formal title for the highest office is determined; thus in the since 1 January 1960 independent republic Cameroon (Cameroun, a former French colony), the first president, Ahmadou Babatoura Ahidjo, was at first not styled président but 'merely' known as chef d'état - (French 'head of state') until 5 May 1960. In Uganda, Idi Amin the military leader after the coup of 25 January 1971 was formally styled military head of state till 21 February 1971, only from then on regular (but unconstitutional, not elected) president.

    In certain cases a special style is needed to accommodate imperfect statehood, e.g., the title Sardar-i-Riyasat was used in Kashmir after its accession to India, and the Palestine Liberation Organization leader, Yasser Arafat, was styled the first "President of the Palestinian National Authority" in 1994. In 2008, the same office was restyled as "President of the State of Palestine".[69]

    Historical European perspectives

    • The polis in Greek Antiquity and the equivalent city states in the feudal era and later, (many in Italy, the Holy Roman Empire, the Moorish taifa in Iberia, essentially tribal-type but urbanised regions throughout the world in the Maya civilisation, etc.) offer a wide spectrum of styles, either monarchic (mostly identical to homonyms in larger states) or republican, see Chief magistrate.
    • Doges were elected by their Italian aristocratic republics from a patrician nobility, but "reigned" as sovereign dukes.
    • The paradoxical term crowned republic refers to various state arrangements that combine "republican" and "monarchic" characteristics.
    • The Netherlands historically had officials called stadholders and stadholders-general, titles meaning "lieutenant" or "governor", originally for the Habsburg monarchs.

    In medieval Europe, it was universally accepted that the Pope ranked first among all rulers and was followed by the Holy Roman Emperor.[70] The Pope also had the sole right to determine the precedence of all others.[70][71] This principle was first challenged by a Protestant ruler, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and was later maintained by his country at the Congress of Westphalia.[70] Great Britain would later claim a break of the old principle for the Quadruple Alliance in 1718.[70][note 2] However, it was not until the 1815 Congress of Vienna, when it was decided (due to the abolition of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 and the weak position of France and other catholic states to assert themselves) and remains so to this day, that all sovereign states are treated as equals, whether monarchies or republics.[73] On occasions when multiple heads of state or their representatives meet, precedence is by the host usually determined in alphabetical order (in whatever language the host determines, although French has for much of the 19th and 20th centuries been the lingua franca of diplomacy) or by date of accession.[73] Contemporary international law on precedence, built upon the universally admitted principles since 1815, derives from the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (in particular, articles 13, 16.1 and Appendix iii).[74]

    Niccolò Machiavelli used Prince (Italian: Principe) as a generic term for the ruler, similar to contemporary usage of head of state, in his classical treatise The Prince, originally published in 1532: in fact that particular literary genre it belongs to is known as Mirrors for princes. Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan (1651) used the term Sovereign. In Europe the role of a monarchs has gradually transitioned from that of a sovereign ruler—in the sense of Divine Right of Kings as articulated by Jean Bodin, Absolutism and the "L'etat c'est moi"—to that of a constitutional monarch; parallel with the conceptual evolution of sovereignty from merely the personal rule of a single person, to Westphalian sovereignty (Peace of Westphalia ending both the Thirty Years' War & Eighty Years' War) and popular sovereignty as in president and various monarchical titles are most commonly used for heads of state, in some nationalistic regimes, the leader adopts, formally or de facto, a unique style simply meaning "leader" in the national language, e.g., Germany's single national socialist party chief and combined head of state and government, Adolf Hitler, as the Führer between 1934 and 1945.

    In 1959, when former British crown colony Singapore gained self-government, it adopted the Malay style Yang di-Pertuan Negara (literally means "head of state" in Malay) for its governor (the actual head of state remained the British monarch). The second and last incumbent of the office, Yusof bin Ishak, kept the style at 31 August 1963 unilateral declaration of independence and after 16 September 1963 accession to Malaysia as a state (so now as a constituent part of the federation, a non-sovereign level). After its expulsion from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, Singapore became a sovereign Commonwealth republic and installed Yusof bin Ishak as its first president.

    In 1959 after the resignation of Vice-President of Indonesia Mohammad Hatta, President Sukarno abolished the position and title of vice-president, assuming the positions of Prime Minister and Head of Cabinet. He also proclaimed himself president for life (Indonesian: Presiden Seumur Hidup Panglima Tertinggi; "panglima" meaning "commander or martial figurehead", "tertinggi" meaning "highest"; roughly translated to English as "Supreme Commander of the Revolution"). He was praised as "Paduka Yang Mulia", a Malay honorific originally given to kings; Sukarno awarded himself titles in that fashion due to his noble ancestry.

    There are also a few nations in which the exact title and definition of the office of head of state have been vague. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, following the downfall of Liu Shaoqi, who was State Chairman (Chinese President), no successor was named, so the duties of the head of state were transferred collectively to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. This situation was later changed: the Head of State of the PRC is now the President of the People's Republic of China. Although the presidency is a largely ceremonial office with limited power, the symbolic role of a Head of State is now generally performed by Xi Jinping, who is also General Secretary of the Communist Party (Communist Party leader) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (Supreme Military Command), making him the most powerful person in China.

    In North Korea, the late Kim Il-sung was named "Eternal President" 4 years after his death and the presidency was abolished. As a result, some of the duties previously held by the president are constitutionally delegated to the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, who performs some of the roles of a head of state, such as accrediting foreign ambassadors and undertaking overseas visits. However, the symbolic role of a Head of State is generally performed by Kim Jong-un, who as the leader of the party and military, is the most powerful person in North Korea.

    There is debate as to whether Samoa was an elective monarchy or an aristocratic republic, given the comparative ambiguity of the title O le Ao o le Malo and the nature of the head of state's office.

    In some states the office of head of state is not expressed in a specific title reflecting that role, but constitutionally awarded to a post of another formal nature. Thus in March 1979 Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who kept absolute power (until his overthrow in 2011 referred to as "Guide of the Revolution"), after ten years as combined Head of State and Head of government of the Libyan Jamahiriya ("state of the masses"), styled Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, formally transferred both qualities to the General secretaries of the General People's Congress (comparable to a Speaker) respectively to a Prime Minister, in political reality both were his creatures.

    Sometimes a head of state assumes office as a state becomes legal and political reality, before a formal title for the highest office is determined; thus in the since 1 January 1960 independent republic Cameroon (Cameroun, a former French colony), the first president, Ahmadou Babatoura Ahidjo, was at first not styled président but 'merely' known as chef d'état - (French 'head of state') until 5 May 1960. In Uganda, Idi Amin the military leader after the coup of 25 January 1971 was formally styled military head of state till 21 February 1971, only from then on regular (but unconstitutional, not elected) president.

    In certain cases a special style is needed to accommodate imperfect statehood, e.g., the title Sardar-i-Riyasat was used in Kashmir after its accession to India, and the Palestine Liberation Organization leader, Yasser Arafat, was styled the first "President of the Palestinian National Authority" in 1994. In 2008, the same office was restyled as "President of the State of Palestine".[69]

    In medieval Europe, it was universally accepted that the Pope ranked first among all rulers and was followed by the Holy Roman Emperor.[70] The Pope also had the sole right to determine the precedence of all others.[70][71] This principle was first challenged by a Protestant ruler, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and was later maintained by his country at the Congress of Westphalia.[70] Great Britain would later claim a break of the old principle for the Quadruple Alliance in 1718.[70][note 2] However, it was not until the 1815 Congress of Vienna, when it was decided (due to the abolition of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 and the weak position of France and other catholic states to assert themselves) and remains so to this day, that all sovereign states are treated as equals, whether monarchies or republics.[73] On occasions when multiple heads of state or their representatives meet, precedence is by the host usually determined in alphabetical order (in whatever language the host determines, although French has for much of the 19th and 20th centuries been the lingua franca of diplomacy) or by date of accession.[73] Contemporary international law on precedence, built upon the universally admitted principles since 1815, derives from the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (in particular, articles 13, 16.1 and Appendix iii).[74]

    Niccolò Machiavelli used Prince (Italian: Principe) as a generic term for the ruler, similar to contemporary usage of head of state, in his classical treatise The Prince, originally published in 1532: in fact that particular literary genre it belongs to is known as Mirrors for princes. Niccolò Machiavelli used Prince (Italian: Principe) as a generic term for the ruler, similar to contemporary usage of head of state, in his classical treatise The Prince, originally published in 1532: in fact that particular literary genre it belongs to is known as Mirrors for princes. Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan (1651) used the term Sovereign. In Europe the role of a monarchs has gradually transitioned from that of a sovereign ruler—in the sense of Divine Right of Kings as articulated by Jean Bodin, Absolutism and the "L'etat c'est moi"—to that of a constitutional monarch; parallel with the conceptual evolution of sovereignty from merely the personal rule of a single person, to Westphalian sovereignty (Peace of Westphalia ending both the Thirty Years' War & Eighty Years' War) and popular sovereignty as in consent of the governed; as shown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England & Scotland, the French Revolution in 1789, and the German Revolution of 1918–1919. The monarchies who survived through this era were the ones who were willing to subject themselves to constitutional limitations.

    Whenever a head of state is not available for any reason, constitutional provisions may allow the role to fall temporarily to an assigned person or collective body. In a republic, this is - depending on provisions outlined by the constitution or improvised - a vice-president, the chief of government, the legislature or its presiding officer. In a monarchy, this is usually a regent or collegial regency (council). For example, in the United States the vice-president acts when the president is incapacitated, and in the United Kingdom the queen's powers may be delegated to counselors of state when she is abroad or unavailable. Neither of the two co-princes of Andorra is resident in Andorra; each is represented in Andorra by a delegate, though these persons hold no formal title.

    There are also several methods of head of state succession in the event of the removal, disability or death of an incumbent head of state.

    In exceptional situations, such as war, occupation, revolution or a coup d'état<

    There are also several methods of head of state succession in the event of the removal, disability or death of an incumbent head of state.

    In exceptional situations, such as war, occupation, revolution or a coup d'état, constitutional institutions, including the symbolically crucial head of state, may be reduced to a figurehead or be suspended in favour of an emergency office (such as the original Roman dictator) or eliminated by a new "provisionary" regime, such as a collective of the junta type, or removed by an occupying force, such as a military governor (an early example being the Spartan Harmost).[citation needed]

    In early modern Europe, a single person was often monarch simultaneously of separate states. A composite monarchy is a retrospective label for those cases where the states were governed entirely separately. Of contemporary terms, a personal union had less government co-ordination than a real union. One of the two co-princes of Andorra is the president of France.

    Commonwealth realms