Opinions on Head of state

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This article is about the political term. For other uses, see Head of state (disambiguation).

A head of state is the highest-ranking constitutional position in a sovereign state and is vested with powers to act as the chief public representative of that state. In most countries, the head of state is a natural person, but the position is held by a body of persons in the Federal Council of Switzerland and the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and, in two other United Nations member states, the position is held by two persons jointly: the Co-Princes of Andorra and the Captains Regent of San Marino. The role and functions of the office of head of state may range from purely ceremonial or symbolic to the real executive power in a state.

The office is usually distinct from a head of government. For example, the distinction is made in article 7 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, article 1 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents and the United Nations protocol list. In parliamentary systems like the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Federal Republic of Germany, for examples, the monarch and the president are recognized as their respective heads of state, while the prime minister and the chancellor are recognized as the heads of government. However, in republics with a presidential system, as in the United States and the Federative Republic of Brazil, their presidents are recognized as being both heads of state and heads of government.

The role of the head of state generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the functions and duties granted to the head of state in the country's constitution, laws, unwritten customs, or by their traditions, including the appointment of members of the government and ambassadors. Before the enactment of the modern French constitution, Charles de Gaulle described the role he envisaged for the French presidency by stating the head of state should embody "the spirit of the nation" for the nation itself and the world and embody "a certain idea about France" (French: une certaine idée de la France). Today, many countries expect their head of state to carry out their duties with dignity in a similar fashion.



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