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How important is the position of Head of State in contemporary European democracies - Essay Example

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How important is the position of Head of State in contemporary European democracies

The concept of Head of State arises as a way of differentiating it from the Head of Government. In parliamentary democracies like Germany and the United Kingdom, the head of state refers to the respective presidents while the Chancellor and the Prime Minister are regarded as the heads of government. However in presidential systems of government, the president is normally recognized as both the head of state and head of government. France The President of France is an important position as the head of state and the commander in chief of the armed forces of the republic of France. Compared to most democracies in contemporary Europe, the position of the head of state in France is normally considered much important given the semi-unitary presidential republic. After the referendum of 1962 on the direct election of the president of France, the president has been elected directly through universal suffrage. In the previous cases, the president was normally elected through Electoral College. After the referendum of 2000 on the reduction of the mandate of the president of France, the length of the term was reduced from 7 to 5 years. After a change of constitution in 2008, the president cannot serve for more than two terms. Before the amendment of the constitution, there was no limit to the number of terms that a person could hold office as the president and hence the head of state. France has a semi-presidential system of government and the position of the president is very powerful. Unlike in many other European countries where parliament conducts much of the activities of the government, the president wields much influence and authority in France (Godfrey, 2001). Much of this authority is realized in the areas of foreign policy and national security. As the head of state, one of the roles of the French president is to choose the prime minister of the republic. The selection of the president has to be supported with the majority of the national assembly. The president is also mandated to promulgate laws and dissolve the national assembly. The attribution so the president of France is well outlined in the constitution of France. The president ensures that the constitution is observed and guarantees national independence, observance of treaties and territorial integrity. The powers of the president can be diminished in instances where the majority of the national assemblies hold opposite political views to those of the president. This is normally referred to as political cohabitation. In such a case, much of the de facto power will lie with the prime minister and the national assembly. However, when the president holds similar political views with a majority of the national assembly, he/she takes a very active duty as the head of state and directly influences government policy. The president has limited form of sespensive veto considering that when presented with a law he or she can request the law to be read again by the national assembly (Dolan, 2005). However, this power is only limited to one reading per law. In the same way, the president might choose to refer the review of the law to the Constitutional Council. As in most situations, one of the most important roles of the head of state in the French government is being the national symbol of the state. Even in instances of cohabitation, the president is allowed to make policy in relation to sensitive issues like security and foreign affairs while the Prime minister runs the domestic affairs. In ...Show more


Name: University Course: Instructor: Date: The Importance of Head of State The importance of the position of head of state varies considerably in most contemporary European democracies. The term is normally used to refer to the person who holds the highest position in sovereign states…
Author : xzavier75
How important is the position of Head of State in contemporary European democracies essay example
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