What European Country Has No Head of State?
Want a bit of trivia? There is one European country with no head of state. Do you know which one?
The answer: Switzerland!
That’s right, Switzerland has no direct head of state. Instead, executive power is held by a Federal Council, which is made up of seven power-sharing Federal Councillors. These Councillors are elected by the nation’s federal legislature to 4-year terms.
It is the Federal Council as a whole that is responsible for the federal administration of Switzerland, not one single individual. Each Councillor is responsible for leading one of the seven federal executive departments. It should be noted that Switzerland does have a Federal President, a position that rotates among the seven Councillors each year. This Federal President has virtually no power over the other six Councillors however, and it is largely a ceremonial position.
Ueli Maurer is the current president of the Federal Council as of January 1st, 2019. But he is not considered to be the country’s sole head of state.
Further reading: Why Is Bern the Capital of Switzerland?
Bosnia and Herzegovina
According to the constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the presidency is made up of three members: one Bosniak, one Serb, and one Croat. These three individuals serve 4-year terms. Although they all serve collectively to exercise executive powers, one member is designated as Chairperson for an 8-month term that rotates among the three presidents. This person functions as the head of state.
Further reading: The Former Yugoslavian Countries
Andorra actually has two heads of state, with the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell serving as co-princes. However, executive power in Andorra is held by the Prime Minister of the country. The co-princes are largely figureheads with limited powers. Each are represented in Andorra by a personal representative.
Every six months, the legislature of San Marino elects two Captains Regent to be the heads of state in a tradition that dates back to 1243 AD. The Captains Regent have limited powers, with their main duties being to represent the country and preserve constitutional order. Typically, the Regents are chosen from an opposing political parties.
Further reading: What Are the Oldest Countries in Europe?
What Is a Head of State in the First Place?
Wondering about what a head of state is in the first place? Heads of state are public figures who officially represent the national unity and legitimacy of a country. The role of each head of state is different depending on the country’s form of government and their separation of powers. Sometimes, heads of state are simply ceremonial figures. In other cases, they might serve as the actual head of government. In essence, a head of state is the chief public representative of a country, both at home and abroad.
Okay, you know which European country has no head of state, but what about those that do? Test your knowledge of Europe’s heads of state in this fun quiz.