Head of State vs Head of Government: Difference and Comparison

Every state, whether democratic, republic, monarch or dictator, is ruled and governed by certain people who have terms and importance that differ from the state and the system they follow.

They are generally referred to as the head of state and head of government, depending on the number of officials in the system. Sometimes, they can be the same person as well or is answerable to one another.

Key Takeaways

  1. The head of state represents the unity and sovereignty of a country, while the head of government manages the daily operations of the government.
  2. The head of state is often a ceremonial figurehead with limited political power, while the head of government is responsible for the country’s policies and decisions.
  3. In some countries, the roles of head of state and head of government are combined, while in others, they are separate positions with different responsibilities.

Head of State vs Head of Government

The difference between the Head of State and the Head of Government is that in parliamentary systems, the head of state can be anyone from the general public. Still, the head of government has to be someone from the legislative assembly or a member of the parliament.

Head of State vs Head of Government

The head of the state is the individual responsible for maintaining the integrity and representing the unity of a state. Depending on the democratic system, their roles and importance vary from state to state.

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The head of government is the individual responsible for the state’s law-making and is answerable to the head of state in most cases. Usually, they are the highest or second-highest official of the state.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHead of StateHead of Government
MeaningIs an individual who is the chief executive of the countryIs the individual who is responsible for all the decisions taken and is the chief of the executive branch
Represented byMostly by the president of the countryThe prime minister of the country
Who are they?They can be common public and not necessarily a member of the parliament.Elected from the member of the parliament.
Role playedThey do not play any role in government matters but are generally to show unity among different parts of the country.They deal with government law-making and breaking processes and are responsible for all the decisions taken in their period of rule.
PowerThe head of government can be removed by the head of stateThe head of state cannot be removed by them

Who is the Head of State?

The head of the state is a non-parliamentary member in the case of a parliamentary system in the country. They are selected based on their contribution to the country and their nationality.

In countries with parliamentary systems, they are called the President. But in countries with a presidential system, the head of state is the head of government. They are responsible for maintaining unity and representing the country’s unity.

In India, they are in charge of the Union Territories that do not come under the powers of the government. They are also responsible for the approval of the new laws made.

In some parliamentary systems like Africa, the head of state and head of government are the same and called the executive president. They only have a symbolic role in the legislative assembly. The head of state is only required during the opening ceremony of a legislative assembly.

head of state

Who is the Head of Government?

The head of government is a member of parliament elected to be in charge of all the decisions being taken during his time of power. They do not have authority over the head of state and cannot remove them.

Usually, they are the highest or second highest executive branch officials. The roles of the head of government and their relation with the head of state or other parliamentary members vary from country to country.

The head of government is the head of a political party in the case of parliamentary systems, like in the case of India. They are called the country’s Prime ministers until their time of rule.

In some cases, like in semi-presidential systems, the head of government is answerable to both the head of state and legislature. In dictatorial systems, the roles of the head of government are divided and played by a group of people who are apt for their respective jobs.

head of government

Main Differences Between Head of State and Head of Government

  1. The head of state is the individual who is the chief executive of the country. In contrast, the head of government is the person who is considered to be the executive of the chief branch and is responsible for all the decisions made under their command.
  2. A parliamentary system’s president can be considered the head of state, whereas the Prime Minister is seen to play the role of the head of government.
  3. The head of state need not be a person from parliament and does not need to be a member. They can be chosen among the common people. But the head of government has to be a member of the parliament before they get elected as head of government.
  4. As we have seen, the president or the head of state does not play any role in the country’s decision-making but is seen as a sign of unity among different parts of the country. The head of government deals with the government’s law-making and is responsible for all the decisions taken while they are still in power.
  5. The head of state holds authority overhead of government. They can remove them at their will, but the reverse is impossible. The head of government cannot remove the head of state.
Difference Between X and Y 2023 04 19T155914.900
References
  1. Head of State and Head of Government in Comparative Perspective (jstor.org)
  2. The Resolution of the Institute of International Law on the Immunities of Heads of State and Government (jstor.org)
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