Difference Between President and Prime Minister

President vs Prime Minister

The difference between President and Prime Minister changes according to the structure of the government. This can very well be seen between a country with either a President or a Prime Minister as the head of government and country where both exist. There are various political structures in place in different countries. While there are Presidential forms of governments, there are also democracies and even dictatorships. But, we are here to discuss the differences between President and Prime Minister. There are countries where President is the all powerful head of the state, but there are also democracies where he is a mere rubber stamp or a ceremonial head. It all depends upon the polity of the country. Also, the system of election of the President and the Prime Minister decides who is at the helm of affairs. Let us take up examples to understand the relation between a President and the Prime Minister.

Who is a President?

There are countries where the head of the government is a president. The US, which is a big democracy of the world, has a Presidential form of democracy where there is no Prime Minister, and the President has all the powers in his hands. However, there is a proper system of checks and balances in place as he is answerable to the Congress for his actions. The President is elected directly by the people, which means that he cannot be ousted by the senate or the Congress unless there are grim charges leveled against him. The President is at liberty to appoint ministers, and there have been cases of Presidents picking up people from various parties depending upon their capabilities.

Difference Between President and Prime Minister

Barack Obama – President of US (2015)

It is a fact that in countries with a Presidency in place, Prime Ministers are weak. For example, in France, though the system is similar to the polity in the US, the President has to appoint a Prime Minister. Of course, he chooses a person from his own political party who remains loyal to him and has less say in the governance. However, this is not the case with every country with a President and a Prime Minister.

Who is a Prime Minister?

In some countries, the Prime Minister is the head of state. To understand how a Prime Minister with full power works, let us look at India. The largest democracy of the world, India, has a parliamentary system of democracy modeled along Britain from which it learnt the importance of democratic institutions. Here, neither Prime Minister nor the President is directly elected by the people. President is the head of the state, while the Prime Minister is the head of the government. The President is chosen by a college of electorates while Prime Minister is appointed by the President from the party having majority in the lower house of the parliament which is Lok Sabha. President in India is a ceremonial head while all executive powers are vested in the Prime Minister.

President vs Prime Minister

Narendra Modi – Prime Minister of India (2015)

In UK, there is no President in place and the Prime Minister from the party having majority in the parliament is appointed by the Queen, as the Queen is the ceremonial head of the government. All the power of governance is with the Prime Minister.

What is the difference between President and Prime Minister?

• It is clear that even in countries with both the President and a Prime Minister, one of the posts is dominant which is better than to have two power centers.

• Whether democracy or not, it is the system of election of President and the Prime Minister that decides relations between the two.

• In countries like US and France, President is the most powerful executive. While there is no Prime Minister in US, in France, the President appoints a Prime Minister.

• In a country like India, there is a President as well as a Prime Minister. However, here, the President is only a ceremonial head as all the executive power is with the Prime Minister. Then there are countries like Sri Lanka where the President holds all the executive power while the Prime Minister is the one with less power.


Images Courtesy:

  1. President Barack Obama via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Prime Minister Narendra Modi by Narendra Modi (CC BY 2.0)
  • IronScruffy

    The US is a Constitutional Federal Republic. We may have representative democracy, but we’re not a true democracy.