Difference Between Head of State vs. Head of Government

Advertisement

Primary Difference

There are various forms of rulers which run the country on the basis of their peoples will, political power or other factors. Countries have different powers and ways of running a country and the two among these are Head of State and Head of Government. These two are the country leaders in different parts of the world and have various differences among them which will be detailed in this article. The main difference is that; head of the government is the head of a parliamentary form of government while head of the state is the head in the presidential form of government. There is no requirement of having a head of government when the presidential system is intact while there is always a head of state even when parliamentary system is implemented. Head of state keeps the main powers of passing a legislation with itself in both the systems while the head of government does not have these power in the presidential system. Usually a head of government is appointed by elected group of people or by another head of state such as Queen in the United Kingdom but a head of state is always the leader of its party and selected with the consent of parliament. Meeting the head of states in most cases is the responsibility of the head of state while head of government may or may not perform these activities. From this, it can be concurred that a president is the head of state as well as the head of government while a prime minister is the head of the government. The responsibility of head of government includes making policies, trade agreements and other daily matters while the head of state has the duty to approve these actions in due course. When the head of government takes the main role in a parliamentary system the head of state becomes just a symbol while the same case happens if head of state appoints head of government in a presidential system. Brief descriptions on both these types of leaders is given in the next two paragraphs while differences will be discussed again at the end.

Advertisement

Comparison Chart

Head of StateHead of Government
DefinitionHead of state is the name given to the president of the country who does not always deal in the government matter but is seen as a sign of unity between different parts of the country.The head of government which is also known as the Prime Minister is a person who is responsible for all the decisions which are taken during the time he is in the office.
SystemIn most parliamentary systems head of government is the head of statein the presidential system, head of the state is the head of government.
Dutiesapproving the agreements and laws is the duty of head of the state.Making trade agreements and other deals
PowerHead of the state can remove head of governmenthead of government cannot remove head of the state
Advertisement

Definition of Head of Government

The head of government which is also known as the Prime Minister is a person who is responsible for all the decisions which are taken during the time he is in the office. It is the responsibility of the head of the government to assure that the best interests of the state are taken into consideration. The PM is required to meet different leaders of the world, people from different fields of live along with the part where he is to take decisions regarding trade and defense. In addition to that a head of government announces new laws which the government had assured people before coming in power and all the other promises that they made. Mostly he is free of any external pressures but in some cases, when appointed by the head of state, especially in the monarch or dictatorial system his contribution towards the country is left minimum. In real democracy though, he is the head of government which comes into power after winning majority of the seats in elections. They can be removed anytime by the president and have the duty to appoint different people in key positions to run the system in a proper way.

Advertisement

Definition of Head of State

Head of state is the name given to the president of the country who does not always deal in the government matter but is seen as a sign of unity between different parts of the country. This is not the most famously followed political leader role since most of the power and working capacity lies with the prime minster but he is considered the head of country and no law can be passed without their signature. They also have the power to appoint a prime minister or remove them if the work is not satisfactory. There are some cases in which roles are changed and the best example of this is the United Sates where President holds the power throughout its reign and acts as the head of state as well as head of the government. Many other countries appoint this post as a ceremonial and a person who does not actually have the right criteria since there is no obligation to appoint a president from the member of parliaments anyone who belongs to the county can be appointed at this post in a parliamentary system. This system is not that common in the world but has the main source of power with one person just like monarchy.

Differences in a Nutshell

  1. A prime minster is the head of a government while a president is the head of the state.
  2. The head of government has to be the member of parliament while head of the state can be selected from a non-parliament member.
  3. In most parliamentary systems head of government is the head of state while in the presidential system, head of the state is the head of government.
  4. In general terms, a head of the state signs off the official documents while the head of government actually makes those documents.
  5. The head of government and country in America is the president while in the UK, the prime minister is appointed as head of the government by the queen who is the head of state.
  6. Making trade agreements and other deals is the responsibility of the head of government while approving these is the duty of head of the state.
  7. Head of the state can remove head of government of a country while the head of government cannot remove head of the state and can only be done so with the help of parliament.
  8. In case of army takeover, the army chief can assume the post of head of the state while he cannot become head of the government.

Conclusion

There are many differences between the two terms, that have been listed down in detail with a broader explanation. They may be related in a way that the aim is to provide details to others but their usage and the context in which they are spoken are variable. Expectantly, you can easily make the difference.