The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Science

Authors: Bogdanor
Summary: In slightly less than 1500 words, this entry defines president and presidential system, discusses presidential limits and the constitutional relationships between the president and Congress, and considers some comparisons between the United States and other systems.
The presidential system is most closely identified with the United States under the constitution adopted in 1789. The president is an individual elected to serve as chief of state and government. Although they have been growing steadily since the second world war, the president's domestic powers are limited by federalism, judicial independence, and Congress.
American government has a special character due to the particular relationship between Congress and the president. This relationship's character
stems in large part from eighteenth century reactions and ideas. One special aspect of the president-Congress relationship is 'checks and balances,' which essentially means the two branches share in each other's constitutional authority. Thus, the president and Congress can both claim they represent the people, and this may be one feature contributing to the sustained relationship between the two branches. At the same time, each of the branches has a different political base and this helps keep the president and Congress institutionally independent. In other countries like Britain, the institutional and political separation between government branches is bridged by political parties.