[US Institution] the PresidentPosted: December 7, 2010
This post will – at least for now – close the series on US institutions
Who’s POTUS ?
The POTUS – acronym for President of The United States – is well known around the world, some even argue he is the most powerful man on earth, but before we go into that, let’s see how to get the position.
First, to become president one must be a natural citizen of the USA, i.e. born on US soil; if you acquired the US nationality when you were a one-year old baby and spent the rest of your life in Wahsington DC, you’re out. The candidate must also be at least 35 years old and have been a permanent resident of the United States for the last 14 years. The constitution limits the number of presidential term (of a length of 4 years) to 2.
The election for the office of President is quite complicated in real life – however on the paper it is not supposed to be that complex. First, we have to remind ourselves that the Presidential election is indirect. Citizens vote for an electoral college, which then votes for the President. This is a way of doing that is consistent with the situation of the USA when the constitution was written (1787) when people had to travel by horse to Washington… a direct election was not practical at the time. In fact, the election process, thought still following the constitution, as been change in the making as the citizen votes are enough to get a clear idea of who is going to be the president. The election campaign goes for 1 to as much as 4,5,… years long.
The powers of the President span over different aspect of the federal institutions. The president has a legislative power by signing of vetoing the laws passed by congress. Also an executive power, in particular in the domain of foreign and military affair – the President is the Commander In Chief. Administrative and Judicial power. The president names the top executives officer (with the consent of the Senate) and the federals judge. He does not have a direct power over the judicial branch, but have an influence by naming Supreme Justices (among others).
Any other power attributed to the president is just customary and depend on the good will of the other actors. For example, the president has no influence upon the economy. Most of the actual power of the President comes from its popularity and that can change very fast. As a leader of one of the two parties, the president can take upon him to work out legislative deals with the opposition, however and again, the outcome depends on the good will of the other party.
In Europe ?
To say things short: nothing like that in the EU because there is nothing comparable with the US federal government. To go ore in the details, there is no top position in the European Union that is directly (or quasi-directly) elected by the citizens and that limits the influence of anybody in the high levels of the Union, making the EU even more distant to the citizen at the same time.