Term of office
Term of office or term in office refers to the length of time a person (usually a politician) serves in a particular office.
In the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister has no term limits. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Monarch and remains in office so long as he/she can command the confidence of the House of Commons, which in practice equals being the leader of the party with the most number of seats. The current incumbent, David Cameron has a working majority of 30 seats in the current House of Commons.
The longest serving First Lord of the Treasury in Britain is Robert Walpole serving between 4 April 1721 – 11 February 1742. The longest serving leader to be called Prime Minister is Margaret Thatcher serving from May 4, 1979 to November 28, 1990, while the shortest serving Prime Minister is Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who was Prime Minister for 363 days, from 18 October 1963 to his defeat at the polls on 16 October 1964.
The office of the leader of the devolved administrations has no numeric term limit imposed upon it. However, in the case of the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government there are fixed terms for which the legislatures can sit. This is imposed at four years. Elections may be held before this time but only if no administration can be formed, which has not happened yet.
In the United States, the president of the United States is elected indirectly through the United States Electoral College to a four-year term, with a term limit of two terms (totaling eight years) or a maximum of ten years if the president acted as president for two years or less in a term where another was elected as president, imposed by the Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1951.
Federal judges have different terms in office. Article I judges—such as those that sit on the United States bankruptcy courts, United States Tax Court, and United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and certain other federal courts and other forms of adjudicative bodies serve limited terms: The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces for 15 years, bankruptcy courts for 14. However, the majority of the federal judiciary—Article III judges, such as those of the Supreme Court, courts of appeal, and federal district courts—serve for life.
State and territories
- 44 states had terms of office for the lower house of the state legislature (often termed the state House of Representatives) at two years. Five (Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, and North Dakota) had terms of office at four years. (The Nebraska Legislature is an exception and has a unicameral legislature with members elected for two years.)
- 37 states had terms of office for the upper house of the state legislature (often termed the state Senate) at four years. Twelve (Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont) had terms of office at two years.
- In the American Samoa Fono, members of the House serve two-year terms while members of the Senate serve six-year terms.
- Members of both chambers of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico have four-year terms.
- Members of both chambers of the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature have two-year terms.
- The Legislature of Guam and Legislature of the Virgin Islands are unicameral and Senators have two-year terms.
Members of Council of the District of Columbia serves a four-year term.
Currently, as in any other elected public office holder position in Canada, there is no limit on the number of times a Prime Minister can run for office. There is a recent article in the Hill Times advocating term limits for such positions, including the PM one.
Terms of office by country
|Heads of states|
|Not applicable||Varies||Until removed from office|
Numbers in years unless stated otherwise. Note that some countries where fixed-term elections are uncommon, the legislature is almost always dissolved earlier than its expiry date. "Until removed from office" refers to offices that don't have fixed terms; in these cases, the officeholder(s) may serve indefinitely until death, abdication, resignation, retirement, or forcible removal from office (such as impeachment).
|Country||Head(s) of state||Members of the upper house*||Members of the lower (or sole) house|
|Afghanistan||5||3, 4 and 5||5|
|Andorra||Until removed from office (Bishop of Urgel); 5 (President of France)||N/A||4|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Until removed from office||5||5|
|Australia||Until removed from office||6||3|
|Austria||6||4 to 6||5|
|Bahamas||Until removed from office||5||5|
|Bahrain||Until removed from office||N/A||4|
|Barbados||Until removed from office||5||5|
|Belgium||Until removed from office||5||4|
|Bhutan||Until removed from office||5||5|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||4||4||4|
|Brunei||Until removed from office||N/A||Until removed from office|
|Cambodia||Until removed from office||6||5|
|Canada||Until removed from office||Until removed from office||5|
|Central African Republic||6||N/A||5|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||5||5||4|
|Denmark||Until removed from office||N/A||4|
|Germany||5||4 to 5||4|
|Grenada||Until removed from office||5||5|
|Iran||Until removed from office||N/A||4|
|Jamaica||Until removed from office||5||5|
|Japan||Until removed from office||6||4|
|Jordan||Until removed from office||4||4|
|Kuwait||Until removed from office||N/A||4|
|Lesotho||Until removed from office||5||5|
|Liechtenstein||Until removed from office||N/A||4|
|Luxembourg||Until removed from office||N/A||5|
|Federated States of Micronesia||4||N/A||2, 4|
|Monaco||Until removed from office||N/A||5|
|Morocco||Until removed from office||N/A||5|
|Nepal||5||N/A||Until removed from office|
|Netherlands||Until removed from office||4||4|
|New Zealand||Until removed from office||N/A||3|
|Norway||Until removed from office||N/A||4|
|Oman||Until removed from office||4||4|
|Papua New Guinea||Until removed from office||N/A||5|
|Qatar||Until removed from office||N/A||N/A|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Until removed from office||N/A||5|
|Saint Lucia||Until removed from office||N/A||5|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Until removed from office||N/A||5|
|Samoa||Until removed from office||N/A||5|
|San Marino||0.5 (6 months)||N/A||5|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||5||N/A||4|
|Solomon Islands||Until removed from office||N/A||4|
|Somalia||In transition||N/A||In transition|
|Spain||Until removed from office||4||4|
|Swaziland||Until removed from office||5||5|
|Sweden||Until removed from office||N/A||4|
|Thailand||Until removed from office||6||4|
|Tonga||Until removed from office||N/A||5|
|Trinidad and Tobago||5||5||5|
|Tuvalu||Until removed from office||N/A||4|
|United Arab Emirates||Until removed from office||Until removed from office||5|
|United Kingdom||Until removed from office||Until removed from office||5|
|Vatican City||Until removed from office||N/A||Until removed from office|
*Excludes senators for life.