/prez"i deuhnt/, n.
1. (often cap.) the highest executive officer of a modern republic, as the Chief Executive of the United States.
2. an officer appointed or elected to preside over an organized body of persons.
3. the chief officer of a college, university, society, corporation, etc.
4. a person who presides.
[1325-75; ME < L praesident- (s. of praesidens), n. use of prp. of praesidere to PRESIDE, govern; see -ENT]

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In government, the officer who serves as head of state and sometimes also as chief executive.

In countries where the president is chief of state but not of government, the role is largely ceremonial, with few or no political powers. Presidents may be elected directly or indirectly, for a limited or unlimited number of terms. In the U.S., the president's chief duty is to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed, which he does through various executive agencies and with the aid of his cabinet. He also serves as commander in chief of the armed forces, nominates judges to the Supreme Court, and makes treaties with foreign governments (contingent on Senate approval). The office of president is used in governments in South and Central America, Africa, and elsewhere. In western Europe executive power is generally vested in a prime minister and his cabinet, and the president, where the office exists, has few responsibilities (though France is a significant exception).

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      card game of Chinese origin that suddenly appeared in the Western world during the 1980s. President is just one of many different names for the game, most of them vulgar and some scatological, and the game itself is played in many different forms with varying rules. Common to all, besides the basic object and method of play, is the distinctive feature of “social status,” whereby the players not only adopt different roles according to how well or how badly they are doing but also change their relative seating positions from deal to deal in accordance with their respective roles.

Game play
      Up to seven people can play, but four is the least and best number. The following account assumes four players and describes a very basic form of the game.

      Two jokers, if available, rank as the highest cards, and one outranks the other if they are distinguishable. (For example, black joker beats red joker.) Second highest are the 2s, which, like jokers, may also be used as wild cards to a limited extent. These are then followed downward by A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 in each suit. There is no trump suit, and no suit outranks any other (unless players agree otherwise).

      All the cards are dealt out one at a time to each player. It does not matter if some players get one more card than others. The aim is to play out all one's cards as soon as possible. Whoever holds the 3 of clubs starts by playing faceup to the table any single card or two, three, or four cards of the same rank (not necessarily including the 3 of clubs). Each person in rotation from the left of the leader may pass or play. Anyone who plays must put out the same number of cards as the leader, and these cards must all be of the same rank but higher in rank than the previous player's cards. Jokers, if present, may be used as wild cards in combination with one or more natural cards, but this is beaten by the equivalent natural combination. For example, 9-9-9 beats 9-9-joker or 9-joker-joker. Any singleton, however, is beaten by a joker, and any pair by a pair of jokers.

      Passing does not prevent a person from contributing to the same round of play if the turn reaches him again. Play therefore continues with all passing or playing in rotation, and the round ends only when one person plays and everyone else passes. The last person to play may not then beat his own cards but must turn all his played cards facedown and lead to the next round. If he has run out of cards, the lead passes to the next player who has any left. Play ceases when only one player has any cards left.

Gaming roles
      The first player to play his last card is designated president, the second vice president, the third (or second to last if more than four play) senator, and the last one left with any card in hand is the bum.

      The president scores two points and in the next round occupies the best seat (however agreed beforehand—for example, it may be the most comfortable chair). The vice president scores one point and takes the next best seat, which should be at the president's left. The others score nothing and occupy diminishingly desirable seats in rotation, leaving the bum seated at the president's right.

      The bum then gathers the cards, shuffles, and deals them, starting with the president. The bum, after examining his hand but before play begins, gives the highest card in his hand to the president, and any card the president does not want is given to the bum. Then the president leads to the next round. The second and subsequent rounds are played and scored as the first.

      The game is played to any agreed score or for any previously agreed number of deals. There should be at least eight deals to a game, though, in order to give players an opportunity to overcome the inequity introduced by the card-trading system.

      There are a vast number of variations, many of which include rules and features borrowed from related games. For example:

● Single or multiple sequences may be played. A variety called big two includes poker combinations.
● A given play may be followed by one containing more cards, provided that it is the same type of combination and higher in rank.
● The play of a given card or combination may induce a reversal in the rotation of play or in the ranking of subsequent combinations (each new one must be lower instead of higher), or both.
● Cards other than jokers may be declared wild.
● Suits may be ranked as in bridge.
David Parlett

Additional Reading
Reliable sources for rules include Joli Quentin Kansil (ed.), Bicycle Official Rules of Card Games (2002); David Parlett, The A–Z of Card Games, 2nd ed. (2004; 1st ed. published as Oxford Dictionary of Card Games, 1992); and Barry Rigal, Card Games for Dummies, 2nd ed. (2005).

▪ government official
      in government, the officer in whom the chief executive power of a nation is vested. The president of a republic is the chief of state, but his actual power varies from country to country; in the United States, Africa, and Latin America, the presidential office is charged with great powers and responsibilities, but the office is relatively weak and largely ceremonial in Europe and in many countries where the prime minister, or premier, functions as the chief executive officer.

      In North America (presidency of the United States of America), the title of president was first used for the chief magistrate of some of the British colonies (colonialism, Western). These colonial presidents were always associated with a colonial council to which they were elected, and the title of president carried over to the heads of some of the state governments (e.g., Delaware and Pennsylvania) that were organized after the start of the American Revolution in 1776. The title “President of the United States” was originally applied to the officer who presided over sessions of the Continental Congress and of the Congress established under the Articles of Confederation (Confederation, Articles of) (1781–89). In 1787–88 the framers of the new country's Constitution (Constitution of the United States of America) created the vastly more powerful office of the presidency of the United States (presidency of the United States of America). The president was vested with a variety of duties and powers, including negotiating treaties with foreign governments, signing into law or vetoing legislation passed by Congress, appointing high-ranking members of the executive and all judges of the federal judiciary, and serving as commander in chief of the armed forces.

      The office of president is also used in governments in South and Central America, Africa, and elsewhere. Much of the time these chief executives function in a democratic tradition as duly elected public officials. Throughout much of the 20th century, however, some elected presidents—under the pretense of emergency—continued in office beyond their constitutional terms. In other cases, military officers seized control of a government and afterward sought legitimacy by assuming the office of president. Still other presidents were virtual puppets of the armed forces or of powerful economic interests that put them in office. During the 1980s and '90s, many countries in these regions underwent a transition to democracy, which subsequently enhanced the legitimacy of the presidency in their governments. In most of these countries, the constitutionally defined powers of the office are similar to those of the president of the United States.

      In contrast to the Americas, most western European nations (Europe) have parliamentary systems of government in which executive authority is vested in cabinets responsible to parliaments. The cabinet's head, and the leader of the majority in parliament, is the prime minister, who is the actual chief executive officer of the nation. In most of these governments the president serves as a titular, or ceremonial, head of state (though in the constitutional monarchies—such as Spain, the United Kingdom, and the countries of Scandinavia—this role is performed by the king or queen). Various methods of selecting presidents have been adopted. For example, in Austria, Ireland, and Portugal the president is directly elected; Germany and Italy utilize an electoral college; while presidents are appointed by the parliament in Israel and Greece.

      At the behest of Charles de Gaulle (Gaulle, Charles de), the constitution of the Fifth Republic of France (1958) endowed the office of president with formidable executive powers, including the power to dissolve the national legislature and call national referenda. The elected French president appoints the premier, who must be able to command the support of a majority in the lower house of France's legislature, the National Assembly. When he is able to appoint a premier representing his own party or coalition, the president retains most political authority and the premier is charged with managing the president's legislative agenda. After the Socialist Party of President François Mitterrand (Mitterrand, François) was defeated in parliamentary elections in 1986, Mitterrand was forced to appoint a premier, Jacques Chirac (Chirac, Jacques), from the ranks of the opposition—a situation that came to be known as “cohabitation.” Although the French constitution had not anticipated the possibility of an executive divided by party, the two men informally agreed that the president would control foreign relations and national defense and the premier would handle domestic policy, an arrangement that was followed during subsequent cohabitational periods. After the fall of communism in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe (1989–91) a number of countries, including Russia, Poland, and Bulgaria, created presidential offices similar to that of the French.

Additional Reading
Comparative analyses of presidents and other executives include Jean Blondel, Political Executives in Comparative Perspective: A Cross-National Empirical Study, 3 vol. (1980–85); and Kurt von Mettenheim (ed.), Presidential Institutions and Democratic Politics: Comparing Regional and National Contexts (1997). Arend Lijphart (ed.), Parliamentary Versus Presidential Government (1992), compares the role of executives in different political systems.

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Universalium. 2010.

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