Differences Between a President vs a Prime Minister

Last Updated on December 2, 2021 by QCity Editorial Stuff

In the United States, we have a President. In Canada and other countries, we have a Prime Minister. What is the difference? Well for starters they are both in charge of different things. A President is mainly focused on politics and legislation while a Prime Minister focuses more on day-to-day operations and legislation as well as diplomacy with neighboring countries. The biggest difference between the two positions is that you don’t need to be elected to become president but you do need to be elected to become prime minister. Another big difference between them is how long their terms last: Presidents serve four years whereas prime ministers generally serve three years before needing re-election or reelection after an unsuccessful term in office (e.g., if they fail at their duties). There are arguments out there that their terms need to be equal in length otherwise you have a president who has less power than the prime minister.

The president and the prime minister are both heads of their respective governments, but they have very different responsibilities. Their roles in government can be compared to that of a CEO and an executive vice president. 

A President is the chief executive officer (CEO) for their country’s federal government. A prime minister is the equivalent of an executive vice president or vice-president in most companies. Both positions require a lot of leadership skills and charisma, as well as experience in political affairs and knowledge about global issues such as terrorism, education, economics, etc., but there are also some key differences between these two high-ranking officials.

Comparison between a President and a Prime Minister

Parameters of ComparisonPresidentPrime Minister
HeadA president is the head of a republicwhereas a prime minister is the head of parliamentary democracy.  
VetoThe President can veto legislation passed by Congressbut the Prime Minister cannot
Cabinet15 members22  members
AppointPresident appoints judges to federal courts with approval from Congresswhile they are appointed directly by Parliament in Canada
ElectedPresidents are elected by popular voteprime ministers are selected from within parliament

What is a president?

The president is the head of the executive branch and leads the country as its chief diplomat, military leader, and representative to other nations. The President also appoints members of their Cabinet with Senate approval. Presidents are elected through a process that begins with nominations from a primary election within their party.

The President serves for four years at a time and can be re-elected up to two times. A new president will take office on January 20th every year following an election year until 2020 when no presidential candidate was winning more than 50% of electoral votes in 2016 which resulted in Donald Trump being inaugurated as our 45th President on January 20th, 2017.  President Trump has been making many changes including withdrawing from global treaties such as the Paris Agreement, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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What is Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister is the first minister of a country, and often they are also the head of government. In some countries, such as Canada and Israel, the title refers to both these roles. They can be called by other titles too: for example in France, they are known as President of the Council of Ministers or simply President of the Government. It’s important to know who your prime minister is—whether you’re Canadian or not—because he has an impact on your daily life! For instance, if you live in Toronto or Montreal then you’ll have to pay attention because those cities belong to Ontario and Quebec respectively. If either province becomes unruly under their prime ministers (or presidents) it will affect everyone who lives in those provinces.

The Prime Minister is the leader of a political party and also the head of government. The person who holds this position is responsible for implementing policy, appointing ministers, and negotiating with other countries. To become Prime Minister, one must be elected by their country’s House of Commons or appointed by the monarch based on where they live.

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10 Differences Between a President and a Prime Minister

1. A president is the head of a republic, whereas a prime minister is the head of parliamentary democracy.

2. The President can veto legislation passed by Congress, but the Prime Minister cannot.

3. The President’s cabinet consists of 15 members, whereas the Prime Minister’s cabinet has 22 members.

4. The President appoints judges to federal courts with approval from Congress, while they are appointed directly by Parliament in Canada.

5. In America, elections for both offices occur every four years on November 3rd and October 20th respectively; in Canada, there are no term limits for either office and elections take place on October 19th every five years.

6. In America it takes 270 electoral votes to become president or vice-president; in Canada, it takes 338 seats to form a majority government.

7. Presidents are elected by popular vote, while prime ministers are selected from within parliament.

8. In some countries, such as Canada or India, the president, and prime minister have different roles.

9. A President appoints cabinet members to lead various departments in their administration; a Prime Minister selects ministers who will serve in their cabinet based on party affiliation. 

10. Presidents usually give an inauguration speech outlining their goals for office; this type of speech does not exist with prime ministers.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of President

1. President Obama is the first president to have a Twitter account.

2. The White House has 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels.

3. He is also the first African American president of the United States.

4. Barack Obama’s favorite food is chili dogs with mustard and onions.

5. He was born in Hawaii on August 4th, 1961.

6. His father was Kenyan-born economist Barack Obama Sr., his mother was Ann Dunham (American anthropologist).

Interesting Statistics or Facts of Prime Minister

1. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government.

2. The Prime Minister has been a member of parliament since 1979.

3. Theresa May became Prime Minister in July 2016.

4. She was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II on 13 July 2016. 

5. Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the Labour Party and Leader of Opposition to Theresa May’s Conservative Government.

6. He has been a Member of Parliament for Islington North since 1983, serving as a backbencher throughout most of this time before becoming Labour’s Leader in 2015.


A president is the head of a country and has complete control over its affairs. In contrast, a prime minister’s job is to lead their nation as part of a coalition government or within the framework set by an existing parliamentary system. As you can see from these definitions, there are many differences between being President and Prime Minister in different countries around the world. Do any of those sounds like your current role? Let us know! We’ll help you determine which position would be best for your skill sets and ambitions so that you can make informed decisions about the next steps for your career.

They are elected by popular vote but must be a United States citizen to qualify for this position. Presidents can serve up to two four-year terms in office before they have to step down.  Prime Minister: A prime minister is not an American title per se; it’s simply the leader of one political party who has been appointed as head of government by the Monarch or other governing body within their country. For example, Theresa May was recently named prime minister after David Cameron stepped down following last year’s Brexit referendum that he spearheaded on behalf of his Conservative Party.


Resource 01: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/
Resource 02: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_minister#:~:text

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