The President

The executive branch is represented by the President and 13 executive departments. The official residence of the President is the White House in Washington D.C. The President, together with his Vice-President is chosen in nation-wide elections every four years and he can be re-elected for only a second term. The only President who was elected four times was Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1932, 1936, 1940, 1944). The President must be a natural-born U.S. citizen and must be at least 35 years old. The Vice-President takes over president in case of death, resignation or sickness, which happened so far in eight occasions. However, the role of a Vice-President is not well-definied in the Constitution.

The national presidential elections play a significant role in the citizens' lives and they are held on the first Tuesday in November (the Election day). The President is inaugurated on 20 January the following year. Anyone who is an American citizen, at least 18 years of age, and is registered to vote may vote. The President is elected by electors (electoral college) pledged in advance to one presidential candidate. The candidate who wins the most votes within a state recieves all its electoral college votes, no mater how small majority there is. The only exception are the states of Maine and Nebraska, where the votes are counted proportionaly. Such a principle caused, for example, the election paradox in 2000. The number of electors depends on how populous the state is, but at least there have to be three electors per state. Altogether, there are 538 electors in the whole USA With the principle that the winner takes it all, the candidate who wins at least 270 electors becomes the president. Since 1960 there was no president without having won elections in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Presidential powers are rather big. Just to mention some, he proposes bills, he can veto or refuse a bill, he is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he makes treaties with foreign countries (with the approval of the Senate), he appoints federal judges and ambassadors.

Under the President there are 13 executive departments. The heads of these departments form a council known as the President's cabinet. The head of each department is appointed by the president and is directly responsible to him. Secretaries, as the department heads are usually called, serve as long as the President wants them to. Currently these are the departments of State, Treasury, Defence, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy, Education and Housing and Urban development.