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Prime Minister
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Prime Minister

Alternate meaning: Prime Minister (band)

A prime minister is the chief member of the cabinet in a parliamentary system of government, or alternatively an official in a presidential system or semi-presidential system whose duty is to execute the directives of the President and manage the civil service.

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1940-1945, 1951-1955)]]

In a parliamentary system, such as the Westminster System, generally the Prime Minister is, in practice, the head of the government while the head of state is largely a ceremonial position. In some monarchies the prime minister exercises powers (known as the Royal Prerogative) which are constitutionally vested in the monarch and which can be exercised without the approval of parliament. As well as being Head of Government, a prime minister may have other roles or titles - the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, for example, is also First Lord of the Treasury. Sometimes they may combine the post with another ministerial office - for example during the Second World War Winston Churchill was also Minister of Defence.

Table of contents
1 Prime Ministers in both Republics & Monarchies
2 Method of Entry into Office
3 Prime Ministers in Constitutions
4 Exit from Office
5 Title of Prime Minister
6 Articles on prime ministers
7 Lists of prime ministers
8 External links
9 See also

Prime Ministers in both Republics & Monarchies

, Prime Minister of Norway 1981-1986]]

Prime Ministers can be found in both constitutional monarchies (as is the case in the United Kingdom, Norway and Japan), and in republics, where the head of state is an elected or unelected official with varying degrees of real power. This contrasts with a presidential system, where the President (or equivalent) is both the head of state and the head of the government. See also "First Minister", "Premier" which are distinct from "prime minister."

In some presidential or semi-presidential systems such as France, Russia, South Korea or Taiwan the prime minister is an official generally appointed by the President but approved by the legislature and responsible for carrying out the directives of the President and managing the civil service. In these systems, it is possible for the president and the prime minister to be from different political parties if the legislature is controlled by a party different than that of the president. This is a situation which is known as cohabitation.

Method of Entry into Office

In parliamentary systems a prime minister can enter into office by a number of means.

The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President of the Republic after consultation and with the parties represented in the Assembly of the Republic, due regard being had to the [general] election results.

Though most prime ministers are 'appointed', they are generally if inaccurately described as 'elected'.

Prime Ministers in Constitutions

Prime Minister of Australia in the 1970s]]

The position, power and status of prime ministers differ depending on the age of the constitution in individuals.

Britain's constitution, being uncodified and largely unwritten, makes no mention of a prime minister. Though it had de facto existed for centuries, its first official mention in official state documents did not occur until the first decade of the twentieth century.

Australia's Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (1900) makes no mention of a prime minister of Australia. The office has a de facto existence at the head of the Executive Council.

Ireland's constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann (1937) provided for the office of taoiseach in detail, listing powers, functions and duties.

Germany's Basic Law (1949) lists the powers, functions and duties of the federal Chancellor.

Exit from Office

Contrary to popular and journalistic myth, most prime ministers in parliamentary systems are not appointed for a specific term of office and in effect may remain in power through a number of elections and parliaments. For example, Margaret Thatcher was only ever appointed prime minister on one occasion, in 1979. She remained continually in power until 1990, though she used the assembly of each House of Commons after a general election to reshuffle her cabinet. Some states, however, do have a term of office of the prime minister linked to the period in office on the parliament. Hence the Irish Taoiseach is formally 'renominated' after every general election. (Some constitutional experts have questioned whether this process is actually in keeping with the provisions of the Irish constitution, which appear to suggest a taoiseach should remain in office, without the requirement of a renomination, unless s/he has clearly lost the general election.)

Prime Minister of India from 1966-1977 and 1980-1984]]

In parliamentary systems, governments are generally required to have the confidence of the lower house of parliament (though a small minority of parliaments, by giving a right to block Supply to upper houses, in effect make the cabinet responsible to both houses, though in reality upper houses, even when they have the power, rarely exercise it). Where they lose a vote of confidence, have a motion of no confidence passed against them, or where they lose Supply, most constitutional systems require either:

The latter in effect allows the government to appeal the opposition of parliament to the highest court in the land, the court of public opinion through an election. However in many jurisdictions a head of state may refuse a parliamentary dissolution, requiring the resignation of the prime minister and his or her government. In most modern parliamentary systems, the Prime Minister is the person who decides when to request a parliamentary dissolution. Older constitutions often vest this power in the cabinet. (In Britain, for example, the tradition whereby it is the prime minister who requests a dissolution of parliament dates back to 1918. Prior to then, it was the entire government that made the request. Similarly, though the modern 1937 Irish constitution grants to the Taoiseach the right to make the request, the earlier 1922 Irish Free State Constitution vested the power in the Executive Council (the then name for the Irish cabinet).

Title of Prime Minister

The current
Taoiseach of Ireland]]

A number of different terms are used to describe prime ministers. The German prime minister is actually titled "Federal Chancellor" while the Irish Prime Minister is called the Taoiseach. In many cases, though commonly used, "prime minister" is not the official title of the office-holder; the British prime minister is (usually) "First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service", and the Spanish prime minister is the "President of the Government" (Presidente del Gobierno). Other common forms include president (or chairman) of the Council of Ministers, or of the Executive Council (&c.), or "Minister-President".

Articles on prime ministers

Lists of prime ministers

The following table groups the list of past and present prime ministers and details information available in those lists.

Country  List starts   Table shows 
 Term given by 
 years or dates? 
Present Incumbent
Afghanistan 1953
years None
Albania 1914
years Fatos Nano
Algeria 1962 yes years Ahmed Ouyahia
Angola 1975
dates Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos
Antigua and Barbuda 1981
years Lester Bird
Armenia 1918 yes dates Andranik Markaryan
Australia 1901 yes dates John Howard
Bahamas 1967
dates Perry Christie
Bangladesh 1971 yes dates Andranik Markaryan
Barbados 1954
years Owen Arthur
Belgium 1918
dates Guy Verhofstadt
Belize 1973 yes years Said Musa
Bulgaria 1879
dates Simeon Sakskoburggotski
Burkina Faso 1971
dates Paramanga Ernest Yonli
Cameroon 1960
dates Peter Mafany Musonge
Canada 1867 yes dates Paul Martin
Cape Verde 1975
dates José Maria Neves
Central African Republic 1958
dates Célestin Gaombalet
Chad 1978
dates Moussa Faki
Cook Islands 1965 yes dates Robert Woonton
Croatia 1990
dates Ivo Sanader
Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia 1969
years Vladimír Špidla
Denmark 1848
years Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Djibouti 1977
dates Dileita Mohamed Dileita
Dominica 1960
dates Roosevelt Skerrit
Egypt 1878
years Ahmed Nazif
Equatorial Guinea 1963
dates Miguel Abia Biteo Borico
Fiji 1966
dates Laisenia Qarase
Finland 1917 yes years Matti Vanhanen
France 1815
years Jean-Pierre Raffarin
Georgia 1918 yes dates Zurab Zhvania
Greece 1833
dates Kostas Karamanlis
Greenland 1979
years Hans Enoksen
Grenada 1954
years Keith Mitchell
Guinea 1972
dates François Lonseny Fall
Guyana 1953
dates Sam Hinds
Hungary 1848
dates Péter Medgyessy
Iceland 1904
years Davíð Oddsson
India 1947 yes dates Manmohan Singh
Iraq 1920
years Iyad Allawi
Ireland 1937 yes years Bertie Ahern
Israel 1948
years Ariel Sharon
Italy 1861
years Silvio Berlusconi
Jamaica 1959
years Percival Patterson
Japan 1885
years Junichiro Koizumi
Latvia 1990 yes dates Indulis Emsis
Lebanon 1926
dates Rafiq Hariri
Lithuania 1990 yes dates Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas
Luxembourg 1959
years Jean-Claude Juncker
Malaysia 1957 yes years Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Malta 1921 yes years Lawrence Gonzi
Mongolia 1912 yes dates Nambaryn Enkhbayar
Myanmar (Burma) 1948 yes dates Khin Nyunt
Netherlands 1945 yes dates Jan Peter Balkenende
New Zealand 1856 yes dates Helen Clark
North Korea 1948 n/a years Pak Pong-ju
Norway 1814
years Kjell Magne Bondevik
Pakistan 1947
dates Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain
Papua New Guinea 1975
years Michael Somare
Poland 1917
dates Marek Belka
Portugal 1980 yes dates Pedro Santana Lopes
Romania 1862
years Adrian Năstase;
Russia 1991 yes dates Mikhail Fradkov
Saint Kitts and Nevis 1960
dates Denzil Douglas
Saint Lucia 1960
dates Kenny Anthony
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1956
dates Ralph Gonsalves
São Tomé and Principe 1974 yes dates Maria das Neves
Serbia 1805
years Vojislav Kostunica
Slovakia 1918
dates MikulᚠDzurinda
Slovenia 1990 yes years Anton Rop
South Africa 1910
dates (Post Abolished)
Spain 1902 yes years José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
Sri Lanka 1948
dates Mahinda Rajapakse
Sweden 1876 yes years Göran Persson
Thailand 1932
years Thaksin Shinawatra
Trinidad and Tobago 1956
dates Patrick Manning
Turkey 1923
years Recep Tayyip Erdoğan;
Tuvalu 1975 n/a dates Saufatu Sopoanga
United Arab Emirates 1971
years Maktoum Bin Rashid al-Maktoum
United Kingdom 1721 yes dates Tony Blair
Vietnam 1976 yes dates Phan Van Khai
Yemen 1990 yes years Abdul Qadir Bajamal

External links

See also