Difference Between Head of State and Head of Government

Head of State vs Head of Government
 

Head of State and Head of Government are posts that are mostly held by different persons in countries around the world. However, there are exceptions with the most prominent being the sole economic and military superpower of the world, the United States of America. In countries where two different individuals hold these two different posts, one person is often more important and influential than the other as there cannot be two parallel power centers in the political system of a country. This article attempts to find out and discuss the differences between a Head of State and a Head of Government.

Head of State

In political terms, the highest ranking official of a country is labeled as the Head of the State of that country. In parliamentary democracies across the world that follow the Westminster model of governance, the head of the state is a person who holds this post according to the provision of the constitution though he is merely a ceremonial head and the real power vests in the head of the government. There are many duties and responsibilities of a head of the state though most of these are pertaining to the protocol and diplomacy and not pertaining to the policy making that remains the sole prerogative of the head of the government.

In more ways than one, the head of the state embodies the spirit of the nation and people outside the country have an idea about the country by knowing about him. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the state of the United Kingdom though she is recognized as a symbolic head more than being a real power center. India, that follows the parliamentary system of democracy also has a separate head of the state in the form of its President. In monarchies such as Japan and Sweden, the emperors are heads of state. In the US though, the power vests in its President who happens to be both the head of the state as well as the head of the government.

Head of Government

Head of the government is the leader of the government whether a President or a Prime Minister. He is the leader of the Cabinet which is the body that decides upon policy matters. Head of the government is the most important post in a parliamentary form of democracy where there is also ceremonial head called the head of the state. Running the day to day affairs may be the handiwork of a system of bureaucracy, but the head of the government is the person who is the most powerful and influential in a parliamentary form of democracy.

Head of State vs Head of Government

In the parliamentary system of democracy as practiced in UK and the rest of the commonwealth, the head of the state and the head of the government are two posts held by different persons. Head of the government is the most powerful and influential person who presides over the Cabinet while the head of the sate is a ceremonial head who is the face of the country for the rest of the world though he has some functions and responsibilities that are political in nature.

In monarchies, emperor happens to be the head of the state, but the head of the government happens to be another person running the functioning of the government. In United States, the sole superpower of the world, the President is the head of the state as well as head of government as he heads the executive branch of the government.