A president is the leader of a country or a division or part of a country, typically a republic, a democracy, or a dictatorship. The title "president" is sometimes used by extension for leaders of other groups.
Etymologically, a ''president'' is one who presides (from Latin ''prae-'' "before" + ''sedere'' "to sit"; giving the term ''praeses''). Originally, the term referred to the presiding officer of a ceremony or meeting (i.e., chairman), but today it most commonly refers to an executive official. Among other things, "President" today is a common title for the heads of state of most republics, whether presidential republics, semi-presidential republics or parliamentary republics.
== Title ==
The title ''President'' is derived from the Latin ''prae-'' "before" + ''sedere'' "to sit." As such, it originally designated the officer who presides over or "sits before" a gathering and ensures that debate is
conducted according to the rules of order (''see also'' chairman and speaker). Early examples are from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge (from 1464) and the founding President of the Royal Society William Brouncker in 1660. This usage survives today in the title of such offices as "President of the Board of Trade" and "Lord President of the Council" in the United Kingdom, as well as "President of the Senate" (one of the roles constitutionally assigned to the Vice-President of the United States). The officiating priest at certain Anglican religious services, too, is sometimes called the "President" in this sense. However the most common modern usage is as the title of a head of state in a republic.
In pre-revolutionary France, the president of a ''Parlement'' evolved into a powerful magistrate, a member of the so-called ''noblesse de robe'' ("nobility of the gown"), with considerable judicial as well as administrative authority. The name referred to his primary role of presiding over trials and other hearings. In the 17th and 18th centuries, seats in the ''Parlements,'' including presidencies, became effectively hereditary, since the holder of the office could ensure that it would pass to an heir by paying the crown a special tax known as the ''paulette''. The post of "first president" (''premier président''), however, could only be held by the King's nominees. The ''Parlements'' were abolished by the French Revolution. In modern France the chief judge of a court is known as its president (''président de la cour'').
The first usage of the word 'president' to denote the highest official in a government was during the Commonwealth of England. After the abolition of the monarchy the English Council of State, whose members were elected by the House of Commons, became the executive government of the Commonwealth. The Council of State was the successor of the Privy Council, which had previously been headed by the Lord President; its successor the Council of State was also headed by a Lord President, the first of which was John Bradshaw. However, the Lord President alone was not head of state, because that office was vested in the council as a whole.
The modern usage of the term 'president' to designate a single person who is the head of state of a republic can be traced directly to the United States Constitution of 1787, which created the office of President of the United States. Previous American governments had included "presidents" (such as the president of the Continental Congress or the president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress), but these were presiding officers in the older sense, with no executive authority. It has been suggested that the executive use of the term was borrowed from early American colleges and universities, which were usually headed by a ''president.'' British universities were headed by an official called the "Chancellor" (typically a ceremonial position) while the chief administrator held the title of "Vice-Chancellor". But America's first institutions of higher learning (such as Harvard University and Yale University) didn't resemble a full-sized university so much as one of its constituent colleges. A number of colleges at Cambridge University featured an official called the "President". The head, for instance, of Magdalene College, Cambridge was called the ''master'' and his second the ''president.'' The first president of Harvard, Henry Dunster, had been educated at Magdalene. Some have speculated that he borrowed the term out of a sense of humility, considering himself only a temporary place-holder. The presiding official of Yale College, originally a "Rector" (after the usage of continental European universities), became "President" in 1745.
A common style of address for presidents, "Mr. President," is borrowed from British Parliamentary tradition, in which the presiding Speaker of the House of Commons is referred to as "Mr. Speaker." Coincidentally, this usage resembles the older French custom of referring to the president of a ''parlement'' as "''Monsieur le Président''", a form of address that in modern France applies to both the President of the Republic and to chief judges. Similarly, the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons is addressed by francophone parliamentarians as "''Monsieur/Madame Président(e)''". In Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's novel ''Les Liaisons Dangereuses'' of 1782, the character identified as ''Madame la Présidente de Tourvel'' ("Madam President of Tourvel") is the wife of a magistrate in a ''parlement''. The fictional name Tourvel refers not to the ''parlement'' in which the magistrate sits, but rather, in imitation of an aristocratic title, to his private estate.
Once the United States adopted the title of "President" for its republican Head of State, many other nations followed suit. Haiti became the first presidential republic in Latin America when Henri Christophe assumed the title in 1807. Almost all of the American nations that became independent from Spain in the early 1810s and 1820s chose a US-style president as their chief executive. The first European president was the President of the French Second Republic of 1848. (The First Republic had harkened back to the ancient Roman Republic by appointing several consuls at its head.) The first African President was the President of Liberia (1848), while the first Asian president was the President of the Republic of China (1912).
In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the powers of presidencies have varied from country to country. The spectrum of power has included presidents-for-life and hereditary presidencies to ceremonial heads of state.
Presidents in the countries with a democratic or representative form of government are usually elected for a specified period of time and in some cases may be re-elected by the same process by which they are appointed, i.e. in many nations, periodic popular elections. The powers vested in such presidents vary considerably. Some presidencies, such as that of Ireland, are largely ceremonial, whereas other systems vest the President with substantive powers such as the appointment and dismissal of prime ministers or cabinets, the power to declare war, and powers of veto on legislation. In many nations the President is also the Commander-in-Chief of the nation's armed forces, though once again this can range from a ceremonial role to one with considerable authority.
In states with a presidential system of government, the president exercises the functions of head of state and head of government, i.e. She or he directs the executive branch of government.
Presidents in this system are either ''directly'' elected by popular vote or ''indirectly'' elected by an electoral college or some other democratically elected body.
In the United States, the President is ''indirectly'' elected by the Electoral College made up of electors chosen by voters in the presidential election. In most U.S. states, each elector is committed to voting for a specified candidate determined by the popular vote in each state, so that the people, in voting for each elector, are in effect voting for the candidate. However, for various reasons the numbers of electors in favour of each candidate are unlikely to be proportional to the popular vote. Thus in four close U.S. elections (1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000), the candidate with the most popular votes still lost the election.
In Mexico, the president is ''directly'' elected for a six-year term by popular vote. The candidate who wins the most votes is elected president even without an absolute majority. The president may never get another term. The 2006 Mexican elections had a fierce competition, the electoral results showed a minimal difference between the two most voted candidates and such difference was just about the 0.58% of the total vote. The Federal Electoral Tribunal declared an elected President after a controversial post-electoral process.
In Brazil, the president is ''directly'' elected for a four-year term by popular vote. A candidate has to have more than 50% of the valid votes. If no candidates achieve a majority of the votes, there is a runoff election between the two candidates with most votes. Again, a candidate needs a majority of the vote to be elected. In Brazil, a president cannot be elected to more than two consecutive terms, but there is no limit on the number of terms a president can serve.
Many South American, Central American, and African nations follow the presidential model.
抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』