Term limit

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A term limit is a legal restriction that limits the number of terms an officeholder may serve in a particular elected office. When term limits are found in presidential and semi-presidential systems they act as a method of curbing the potential for monopoly, where a leader effectively becomes "president for life". This is intended to protect a democracy from becoming a de facto dictatorship. Sometimes, there is an absolute or lifetime limit on the number of terms an officeholder may serve; sometimes, the restrictions are merely on the number of consecutive terms he or she may serve.

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The incumbent is the current holder of an office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent(s). For example, in the 2017 Hungarian presidential election, János Áder was the incumbent, because he had been the president in the term before the term for which the election sought to determine the president. A race without an incumbent is referred to as an open seat.

Presidential system form of government

A presidential system is a democratic and republican system of government where a head of government leads an executive branch that is separate from the legislative branch. This head of government is in most cases also the head of state, which is called president.

Contents

History

Ancient

Term limits have a long history. Ancient Athens and Ancient Rome, two early classic republics, had term limits imposed on their elected offices as did the city-state of Venice. [1]

Ancient Rome History of Rome from the 8th-century BC to the 5th-century

In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.

Election Process by which a population chooses the holder of a public office

An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations.

In ancient Athenian democracy, only offices selected by sortition were subject to term limits (one term of one year for each office, except members of the council of 500 (boule), where it was possible to serve two one-year terms, non-consecutively). Elected offices were all subject to possible re-election, although they were minoritarian, these positions were more prestigious and those requiring the most experience, such as military generals and the superintendent of springs.

Athenian democracy democracy

Athenian democracy developed around the sixth century BC in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, and is often described as the first known democracy in the world. Other Greek cities set up democracies, most following the Athenian model, but none are as well documented as Athens'.

In governance, sortition is the selection of political officials as a random sample from a larger pool of candidates, a system intended to ensure that all competent and interested parties have an equal chance of holding public office. It also minimizes factionalism, since there would be no point making promises to win over key constituencies if one was to be chosen by lot, while elections, by contrast, foster it.  In ancient Athenian democracy, sortition was the traditional and primary method for appointing political officials, and its use was regarded as a principal characteristic of democracy.

In cities of ancient Greece, the boule was a council of over 500 citizens appointed to run daily affairs of the city. Originally a council of nobles advising a king, boulai evolved according to the constitution of the city: In oligarchies boule positions might have been hereditary, while in democracies members were typically chosen by lot, and served for one year. Little is known about the workings of many boulai, except in the case of Athens, for which extensive material has survived.

In the Roman Republic, a law was passed imposing a limit of a single term on the office of censor. The annual magistratestribune of the plebs, aedile, quaestor, praetor, and consul—were forbidden reelection until a number of years had passed. [2] (see cursus honorum , Constitution of the Roman Republic). Also there was a term limit of 6 months for a dictator.

Roman Republic Period of ancient Roman civilization (509–27 BC)

The Roman Republic was the era of classical Roman civilization beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom, traditionally dated to 509 BC, and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire. It was during this period that Rome's control expanded from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world.

Roman censor Roman magistrate responsible for the census and monitoring public morality

The censor was a magistrate in ancient Rome who was responsible for maintaining the census, supervising public morality, and overseeing certain aspects of the government's finances.

Roman magistrate elected official in Ancient Rome

The Roman magistrates were elected officials in Ancient Rome.

Modern

Many modern presidential republics employ term limits for their highest offices. The United States placed a limit of two terms on its presidency by means of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1951. There are no term limits for Vice Presidency, Representatives and Senators, although there have been calls for term limits for those offices. Under various state laws, some state governors and state legislators have term limits. Formal limits in America date back to the 1682 Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties, and the colonial frame of government of the same year, authored by William Penn and providing for triennial rotation of the Provincial Council, the upper house of the colonial legislature. [3] (See also term limits in the United States).

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution establishes presidential term limits of at most 2.5 terms

The Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution sets a limit on the number of times an individual is eligible for election to the office of President of the United States, and also sets additional eligibility conditions for presidents who succeed to the unexpired terms of their predecessors.

United States Constitution Supreme law of the United States of America

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. The Constitution, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress ; the executive, consisting of the President ; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Articles Four, Five and Six embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, and the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article Seven establishes the procedure subsequently used by the thirteen States to ratify it. It is regarded as the oldest written and codified national constitution in force.

The Russian Federation has a rule for the head of state that allows the President of Russia to serve more than two terms if not consecutive (as in the case of Vladimir Putin). For governors of federal subjects, the same two-term limit existed until 2004, but now there are no term limits for governors.

President of Russia head of state of the RSFSR (office established in 1991) and Russia

The President of Russia, officially the President of the Russian Federation, is the head of state of the Russian Federation, as well as holder of the highest office in Russia and commander-in-chief of the Russian Armed Forces.

Vladimir Putin Russian politician, 2nd and 4th President of Russia

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is a Russian politician and former intelligence officer serving as President of Russia since 2012, previously holding the position from 2000 until 2008. In between his presidential terms he was also the Prime Minister of Russia under his close associate Dmitry Medvedev.

Federal subjects of Russia Official constitutional top-level political division of Russia

The federal subjects of Russia, also referred to as the subjects of the Russian Federation or simply as the subjects of the federation, are the constituent entities of Russia, its top-level political divisions according to the Constitution of Russia. Since March 18, 2014, the Russian Federation constitutionally has consisted of 85 federal subjects, although the two most recently added subjects are recognized by most states as part of Ukraine.

Term limits are also common in Latin America, where most countries are also presidential republics. Early in the last century, the Mexican revolutionary Francisco Madero popularized the slogan Sufragio Efectivo, no Reelección (effective suffrage, no reelection). In keeping with that principle, members of the Congress of Mexico (the Chamber of Deputies and Senate) cannot be reelected for the next immediate term under article 50 and 59 of the Constitution of Mexico, adopted in 1917. Likewise, the President of Mexico is limited to a single six-year term, called the Sexenio. This makes every presidential election in Mexico a non-incumbent election.

Countries that operate a parliamentary system of government are less likely to employ term limits on their leaders. This is because such leaders rarely have a set "term" at all: rather, they serve as long as they have the confidence of the parliament, a period which could potentially last for life. Many parliaments can be dissolved for snap elections which means some parliaments can last for mere months while others can continue until their expiration dates. Nevertheless, such countries may impose term limits on the holders of other offices—in republics, for example, a ceremonial presidency may have a term limit, especially if the office holds reserve powers.

Types

Term limits may be divided into two broad categories: consecutive and lifetime. With consecutive term limits, an officeholder is limited to serving a particular number of terms in that particular office. Upon hitting the limit in one office, an officeholder may not run for the same office again (though he/she may run for any other elective office). After a set period of time (usually one term), the clock resets on the limit, and the officeholder may run for election to his/her original office and serve up to the limit again.

With lifetime limits, once an officeholder has served up to the limit, he/she may never again run for election to that office. Lifetime limits are much more restrictive than consecutive limits.

Notable examples

Relaxed term limits

Names indexed by surnames ImageCountries and localitiesOfficial positionsEarlier term limitsLater term limits
Bloomberg, Michael Mayor Michael Bloomberg (cropped).jpg United States; New York City Mayor (2002–13)2 terms of 4 years3 terms of 4 years from 2008 to 2010; 2 terms of 4 years since 2010
Cardoso, Fernando Henrique Fhc-color.jpg Brazil President of Brazil (1995–2003)1 term of 4 years2 terms of 4 years since 1997
Chávez, Hugo Hugo Chavez (02-04-2010).jpg Venezuela President of Venezuela (1999–2013)2 terms of 6 yearsUnlimited terms of 6 years since the 2009 amendment of the 1999 Venezuelan constitution
Clinton, Bill Bill Clinton.jpg United States; Arkansas Governor of Arkansas (1979–81, 1983–92)2 consecutive terms of 2 years2 consecutive terms of 2 years until 1986, then 2 consecutive terms of 4 years
Chiang Kai-shek Chiang Kai-shek(Jiang Zhong Zheng ).jpg China, Republic of (Mainland and Taiwan Eras)President (1948–49, 1950–75)2 terms of 6 yearsUnlimited terms of 6 years since 1960 [4]
Lukashenko, Alexander Alexander Lukashenko crop.jpeg Belarus President (1994–present)2 terms of 5 yearsUnlimited terms of 5 years since 2004
Menem, Carlos Menem con banda presidencial.jpg Argentina President of Argentina (1989–99)1 term of 6 years, re-eligible after 6 years2 terms of 4 years, re-eligible after 4 years; Menem was banned to reelection in 1999 because his first term was counted as one of 4
Museveni, Yoweri Yoweri Museveni September 2015.jpg Uganda President of Uganda (1986–present)2 terms of 5 yearsServed 2 terms of 5 years before 1995 constitution imposed 2-term limit. Served 2 additional terms of 5 years; constitution was revised in 2005, removing term limits
Park Chung-hee Park Chung-hee 1963's.png South Korea President of South Korea (1962-1979)2 terms of 4 years3 terms of 4 years 1969-1972; unlimited terms of 6 years since 1972
Patton, Paul E. Paul E. Patton 2013.jpg United States; Kentucky Governor of Kentucky (1995–2003)1 term of 4 years2 terms of 4 years
Perón, Juan Domingo Juan Domingo Peron.jpg Argentina President of Argentina (1946–55, 1973–74)1 term of 6 years, re-eligible after 6 yearsUnlimited terms of 6 years. In 1973 he was elected to 1 term of 4 years.
Putin, Vladimir Putin with flag of Russia.jpg Russia President of Russia (1999–2008, 2012–present)2 terms of 4 years2 terms of 6 years since 2008
Rahmon, Emomali Tajikistan President of Tajikistan (1994–present)1 terms of 5 years1 term of 7 years since 1999, 2 terms of 7 years since 2003, term count reset in 2006, all term limits removed in 2016. [5] [6]
Rhee Syngman Rhee Syng-Man in 1956.jpg South Korea President of South Korea (1948-1960)2 terms of 4 yearsUnlimited terms of 4 years since 1954
Sharif, Nawaz Nawaz Sharif January 2015.jpg Pakistan Prime Minister of Pakistan (1990–93, 1997–99, 2013–2017)2 terms of 5 yearsUnlimited terms of 5 years since 2011
Uribe, Álvaro Alvaro Uribe Velez (cropped).jpg Colombia President (2002–10)1 term of 4 years2 terms of 4 years since 2004
Xi Jinping Xi Jinping October 2013 (cropped) (cropped).jpg China; Communist Party President (2013–present)2 terms of 5 yearsUnlimited terms of 5 years since 2018 [7]
Yuan Shikai Yuan shikai.jpg China, Republic of (Beiyang Government)President (1912–15, 1916)2 terms of 5 years [8] Unlimited terms of 10 years since 1914 [9]

Tightened term limits

Names indexed by surnames ImageCountries and localitiesOfficial positionsEarlier term limitsLater term limits
Brown, Jerry Edmund G Brown Jr.jpg United States; California Governor (1975–83) (2011–2019)No term limit2 terms of 4 years
Castro, Raúl Raul Castro, July 2012.jpeg Cuba; Communist Party President of Cuba (2008–2018)No term limit2 terms of 5 years since 2013
dos Santos, José Eduardo Jose Eduardo dos Santos 3.jpg Angola President of Angola (1979–2017)No term limit2 terms of 5 years since 2010
Mugabe, Robert Mugabecloseup2008.jpg Zimbabwe President of Zimbabwe (1987–2017)No term limit2 terms of 5 years since 2013
Sall, Macky Macky Sall .jpg Senegal President of Senegal (2012–present)2 terms of 7 years2 terms of 5 years since 2016
Santos, Juan Manuel Juan Manuel Santos in 2018.jpg Colombia President of Colombia (2010–2018)2 terms of 4 years1 term of 4 years since 2018

People who would have run afoul of modern term limits

Names indexed by surnames ImageCountries and localitiesOfficial positionsEarlier term limitsLater term limits
Ben-Zvi, Yitzhak Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.jpg Israel President of Israel (1952–63)No term limit2 consecutive terms of 5 years from 1964 to 1998; 1 term of 7 years since 1998
Carmona, Óscar Carmona.jpg Portugal President of Portugal (1926–51)No term limit2 consecutive terms of 5 years since 1976
Mitterrand, François Reagan Mitterrand 1984 (cropped 2).jpg France President of France (1981–95)No term limit2 terms of 5 years since 2008
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano FDR 1944 Color Portrait.jpg United States President of the United States (1933–45)No term limitGenerally 2 terms of 4 years since 1951, but see Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution for details of even greater restriction.
Suharto President Suharto, 1993.jpg Indonesia President of Indonesia (1968–98)No term limit2 terms of 5 years since 1999
Tomás, Américo AmericoThomaz.png Portugal President of Portugal (1958–74)No term limit2 consecutive terms of 5 years since 1976

See also

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References

  1. O'Keefe, Eric (2008). "Term Limits". In Hamowy, Ronald (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE; Cato Institute. pp. 504–06. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n308. ISBN   978-1-4129-6580-4. LCCN   2008009151. OCLC   750831024. ... Political scientist Mark Petracca has outlined the importance of rotation in the ancient Republics of Athens, Rome, Venice, and Florence. The Renaissance city-state of Venice [also] required rotation....
  2. Robert Struble, Jr., Treatise on Twelve Lights, chapter six, part II, "Rotation in History." Archived 11 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Francis N. Thorpe, ed., The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and other Organic Laws..., 7 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1909) 5:3048, 3055–56, 3065.
  4. Based on the amended Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion until it was abolished in 1991.
  5. Konstantin Parshin (23 April 2013). "Tajikistan: Can Rahmon Keep Running?". Eurasianet. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  6. Peter Leonard (23 May 2016). "Tajikistan Vote Allows President to Rule Indefinitely". ABC News. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  7. Liangyu, ed. (25 February 2018). "CPC proposes change on Chinese president's term in Constitution". Xinhuanet . Archived from the original on 25 October 2018. Retrieved 25 October 2018.