Term of office

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A term of office is the length of time a person serves in a particular elected office. In many jurisdictions there is a defined limit on how long terms of office may be before the officeholder must be subject to re-election. Some jurisdictions exercise term limits, setting a maximum number of terms an individual may hold in a particular office.

United Kingdom[edit]

Being the origin of the Westminster system, aspects of the United Kingdom's system of government are replicated in many other countries.

Monarch[edit]

The monarch serves as head of state until their death or abdication.

House of Commons[edit]

In the United Kingdom Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons are elected for the duration of the parliament. Following dissolution of the Parliament, a general election is held which consists of simultaneous elections for all seats. For most MPs this means that their terms of office are identical to the duration of the Parliament, though an individual's term may be cut short by death or resignation. An MP elected in a by-election mid-way through a Parliament, regardless of how long they have occupied the seat, is not exempt from facing re-election at the next general election.

The Septennial Act 1715 provided that a Parliament expired seven years after it had been summoned; this maximum period was reduced to five years by the Parliament Act 1911. Prior to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 parliaments had no minimum duration. Parliaments could be dissolved early by the monarch at the Prime Ministers request. Early dissolutions occurred when the make-up of Parliament made forming government impossible (as occurred in 1974), or, more commonly, when the incumbent government reasoned an early general election would improve their re-election chances (e.g. 2001). The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 mandated that Parliaments should last their full five years. Early dissolution is still possible, but under much more limited circumstances.

Because the government and Prime Minister are effectively indirectly elected through the Commons, the terms of Parliaments and MPs do not directly apply to offices of government, though in practice these are affected by changes in Parliament. While, strictly speaking, a Prime Minister whose incumbency spans multiple Parliaments only serves one, unbroken, term of office, some writers may refer to the different Parliaments as separate terms.[1]

House of Lords[edit]

Hereditary peers and life peers retain membership of the House of Lords for life, though members can resign or be expelled. Lords Spiritual hold membership of the House of Lords until the end of their time as bishops, though a senior bishop may be made a life peer upon the end of their bishopric (e.g. George Carey, made Baron Carey of Clifton the day after he ceased being Archbishop of Canterbury).

Devolved administrations[edit]

The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are variations on the system of government used at Westminster.

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.

Other elected offices[edit]

Offices of local government other regional elected officials follow similar rules to the national offices discussed above, with persons elected to fixed terms of a few years.

United States[edit]

Federal[edit]

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.

U.S. Representatives serve two-year terms. U.S. Senators serve six-years terms.

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[edit]

The terms of office for officials in state governments varies according to the provisions of state constitutions and state law.

The term for state governors is four years in all states but Vermont and New Hampshire; the Vermont and New Hampshire governors serve for two years.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reported in January 2007 that among state legislatures [2]:

Among territories of the United States:

Members of Council of the District of Columbia serves a four-year term.

Canada[edit]

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.[2]

Terms of office by country[edit]

Heads of state or Heads of Government
Terms of office of heads of state.svg
Upper houses
Terms of office of upper houses.svg
Lower houses
Terms of office of lower houses.svg
Legend
Not applicable Varies Until removed
<3 3 4 5 6 7 >7

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
 Albania 5 N/A 4
 Algeria 5 N/A 5
 Andorra Until removed from office (Bishop of Urgel); 5 (President of France) N/A 4
 Angola 5 N/A 4
 Antigua and Barbuda Until removed from office 5 5
 Argentina 4 6 4
 Armenia 5 N/A 5
 Australia Until removed from office 6 3
 Austria 6 4 to 6 5
 Azerbaijan 5 N/A 5
 Bahamas Until removed from office 5 5
 Bahrain Until removed from office N/A 4
 Bangladesh 5 N/A 5
 Barbados Until removed from office 5 5
 Belarus 5 4 4
 Belgium Until removed from office 5 4
 Benin 5 N/A 5
 Bhutan Until removed from office 5 5
 Bolivia 5 5 5
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 4 4 4
 Botswana 5 N/A 5
 Brazil 4 8 4
 Bulgaria 5 N/A 4
 Burkina Faso 5 N/A 5
 Burundi 5 5 5
 Brunei Until removed from office N/A Until removed from office
 Cambodia Until removed from office 6 5
 Cameroon 7 N/A 5
 Canada Until removed from office Until removed from office 5
 Cape Verde 5 N/A 5
 Central African Republic 6 N/A 5
 Chad 5 N/A 4
 Chile 4 8 4
 China 5 N/A 5
 Colombia 4 4 4
 Congo 7 6 5
 Comoros 7 N/A 5
 Ivory Coast 5 N/A 5
 Costa Rica 4 N/A 4
 Croatia 5 N/A 4
 Cuba 5 N/A 5
 Cyprus 5 N/A 5
 Czech Republic 5 6 4
 Democratic Republic of the Congo 5 5 4
 Denmark Until removed from office N/A 4
 Djibouti 6 N/A 5
 Dominica 5 N/A 5
 Dominican Republic 4 4 4
 Ecuador 4 N/A 4
 Egypt 4 N/A 5
 El Salvador 5 N/A 3
 Equatorial Guinea 7 N/A 5
 Estonia 5 N/A 4
 Ethiopia 6 N/A 5
 Fiji 5 5 5
 Finland 6 N/A 4
 France 5 6 5
 Gabon 7 6 5
 Gambia 5 N/A 5
 Georgia 5 N/A 4
 Germany 5 4 to 5 4
 Ghana 4 N/A 4
 Greece 5 N/A 4
 Grenada Until removed from office 5 5
 Guatemala 4 N/A 4
 Guinea 7 N/A 5
 Guinea-Bissau 5 N/A 5
 Guyana 5 N/A 5
 Haiti 5 6 4
 Honduras 4 N/A 4
 Hungary 5 N/A 4
 Iceland 4 N/A 4
 India 5 6 5
 Indonesia 5 5 5
 Iran Until removed from office N/A 4
 Iraq 4 N/A 4
 Ireland 7 5 5
 Israel 7 N/A 4
 Italy 7 5 5
 Jamaica Until removed from office 5 5
 Japan Until removed from office 6 4
 Jordan Until removed from office 4 4
 Kazakhstan 7 6 5
 Kenya 5 5 5
 Kiribati 4 N/A 4
 Kuwait Until removed from office N/A 4
 Kyrgyzstan 6 N/A 5
 Laos 5 N/A 5
 Latvia 4 N/A 4
 Lebanon 4 N/A 4
 Lesotho Until removed from office 5 5
 Liberia 6 9 6
 Liechtenstein Until removed from office N/A 4
 Lithuania 5 N/A 4
 Luxembourg Until removed from office N/A 5
 Macedonia 5 N/A 4
 Madagascar 5 4 4
 Malawi 5 N/A 5
 Malaysia 5 3 5
 Maldives 5 N/A 5
 Mali 5 N/A 5
 Malta 5 N/A 5
 Marshall Islands 4 N/A 4
 Mauritania 5 N/A 5
 Mauritius 5 N/A 5
 Mexico 6 6 3
 F.S. Micronesia 4 N/A 2, 4
 Monaco Until removed from office N/A 5
 Mongolia 4 N/A 4
 Moldova 4 N/A 4
 Montenegro 5 N/A 4
 Morocco Until removed from office N/A 5
 Mozambique 5 N/A 5
 Myanmar 5 5 5
 Namibia 5 N/A 5
 Nauru 4 N/A 3
   Nepal 5 N/A Until removed from office
 Netherlands Until removed from office 4 4
 New Zealand Until removed from office N/A 3
 Nicaragua 5 N/A 5
 Nigeria 5 N/A 5
 Niger 4 4 4
 North Korea 5 N/A 5
 Norway Until removed from office N/A 4
 Oman Until removed from office 4 4
 Pakistan 5 6 5
 Palau 4 4 4
 Palestine 4 N/A 4
 Panama 5 N/A 5
 Papua New Guinea Until removed from office N/A 5
 Paraguay 5 5* 5
 Peru 5 N/A 5
 Philippines 6 6 3
 Poland 5 4 4
 Portugal 5 N/A 4
 Qatar Until removed from office N/A N/A
 Romania 5 4 4
 Russia 6 N/A 5
 Rwanda 7 N/A 5
 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
 Senegal 5 5 5
 Serbia 5 N/A 4
 Seychelles 5 N/A 5
 Sierra Leone 5 N/A 5
 Singapore 6 N/A 5
 Slovakia 5 N/A 4
 Slovenia 5 5 4
 Solomon Islands Until removed from office N/A 4
 Somalia In transition N/A In transition
 South Africa 5 5 5
 South Korea 5 N/A 4
 South Sudan 5  ?  ?
 Spain Until removed from office 4 4
 Sri Lanka 5 N/A 5
 Sudan 5 6 6
 Suriname 5 N/A 5
 Swaziland Until removed from office 5 5
 Sweden Until removed from office N/A 4
  Switzerland 4 4 4
 Syria 7 N/A 4
 Taiwan 4 N/A 4
 Tajikistan 7 5 5
 Tanzania 5 N/A 5
 Thailand Until removed from office 6 4
 Timor-Leste 5 N/A 5
 Togo 5 N/A 5
 Tonga Until removed from office N/A 5
 Trinidad and Tobago 5 5 5
 Tunisia 5 6 5
 Turkey 5 N/A 4
 Turkmenistan 5 N/A 5
 Tuvalu Until removed from office N/A 4
 Uganda 5 N/A 5
 Ukraine 5 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
 United States 4 6 2
 Uruguay 5 5 5
 Uzbekistan 7 5 5
 Vanuatu 5 N/A 4
  Vatican City Until removed from office N/A Until removed from office
 Venezuela 6 N/A 5
 Vietnam 5 N/A 5
 Yemen 7 N/A 6
 Zambia 5 N/A 5
 Zimbabwe 5 5 5

*Excludes senators for life.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Margaret Thatcher". Biography.com. Retrieved 5 February 2016. During her three terms… 
  2. ^ [1]