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Unit 2

2.4 Executive Term Limits

5 min readโ€ขnovember 15, 2020

Topics 2.4 and Topics 2.5

These 2 topics are going to explore term limits and removal โ›” of executives. When exploring term limits, we will focus ๐Ÿ” on the advantages and disadvantages of promoting stability and effective policies in our Comp Gov countries. In regards to the removal of executives, Comp Gov focuses on how leaders can be removed and how this process of removal controls the abuse of power in each of course countries ๐Ÿฅผ

Topic 2.4: Executive Term Limits

Key Terms ๐Ÿ“‡:
  1. Executive Term Limits: institutional rules that limit the amount of time that an executive can serve in that office. Example: In Mexico, ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ the executive may only serve one 6 year term and is not eligible for re-election and this is set out in the Mexican Constitution.
  1. Fixed Term Election System: a system in which fixed dates are set for elections. These dates are announced and scheduled. Example: A good example of this term would be the UK ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡งand parliamentary elections.. In 2011, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act set in legislation a default or set election day for general elections for Parliament. Elections are to be held every 5 years.
We are going to focus our attention on Topic 2.4 Executive Term Limits first. The CED (Course and Exam Description) notes that you should be able to first 1๏ธโƒฃ identify if there are term limits and what they are in each of our course counties (UK ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง, Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ, Iran ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท, Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ, China ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ, and Nigeria ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ). Then secondly 2๏ธโƒฃ, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of executive term limits in regards to promoting stability ๐ŸŽ–๏ธ and effective policies in the Comp Gov course countries.
๐Ÿ’กTEST TIP: Topic 2.4 lends itself really well to an argumentative FRQ. You may be asked to make an argument on why term limits in one country are far more effective than another course country and you would need to have examples of stability and effective policymaking. When we get to the end of our discussion of Topic 2.4 and 2.5 we will revisit this.
So it seems to me we should begin with how term limits are structured in each of our course countries, and I think that the best way to do this would be in the form of a comparison chart!

Executive Term Limits

Course CountryExecutive Term LimitsWhere EstablishedNotes/Explanations
UKNO Formal Time/Term LimitCommon Law (No written Constitution)There is no formal term limit, Monarchy serves for life; Prime Minister-If a confidence motion is lost then the Government is obliged to resign or seek a dissolution of Parliament and call a General Election; also every 5 years fixed election
Mexico1 - 6 Year Term Limit (Sexenio)ConstitutionCan only serve the one term; this changed from 4 years to 6 in 1928 for good.
Nigeria2 Consecutive-4 Year Term LimitConstitutionCoup d' etatโ€™s have removed Presidents over the history of the country as well.
China10 Year Term LimitConstitutionUnder President Xi, the Chinese National Party Congress changed the Constitution in 2018 to allow the president to serve indefinitely.
Iran10 Year Term Limit: S.L. has 2 consecutive-4 Year TermsIranian LawSupreme Leader has a 10 Year Term Limit; however, neither S.L. has ever been removed after 10 years by the Assembly of Experts. President is limited to 2 consecutive 4-year terms.
Russia2 consecutive-6 year termsConstitutionChanged from 4 years to 6 years by Constitutional amendment in 2012. Putin went from President to Prime Minister after his 2 consecutive terms and was re-elected president in 2012 and 2016.
The first key concept of Topic 2.4 is simple, be able to discuss executive term limits in each of the course countries.
๐Ÿ˜” However, there is a second key concept that we need to discuss and that is what are the advantages and disadvantages of term limits in each of the course countries in 2๏ธโƒฃ two specific ways:
  1. 1๏ธโƒฃ political stability
  2. 2๏ธโƒฃ effective policies
Let us first look at what the CED (Course and Exam Description) says about advantages and disadvantages ๐Ÿ˜ค:
1. Advantages: There are several advantages to having executive term limits among them are:
  • Checks the power of the executive branch and prevents dictators and/or personality rule.
  • Helps to focus the attention of the executive on governing rather than winning elections.
  • Provide more opportunities for new leaders, new ideas, new policies, and new goals.
2. Disadvantages: There are several disadvantages to having executive term limits, among them are:
  • Force good executives to leave office.
  • Insufficient time for office holders to implement policy
  • Impede policy continuity
  • Weaken accountability
  • Lame duck period
  • Prevents the executive from building experience
  • Can cause poorly designed policy
What is interesting is that the CED (Course and Exam Description) does not ask students to apply advantages and disadvantages to any specific Comp Gov course countries. However, let us look at a sample Argument FRQ โœ๏ธ question that College Board shared during a recent review ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ session online that points to how this key concept of advantages and disadvantages could appear on an exam ๐Ÿ“:

Sample Argument FRQ โœ๏ธ

Different countries have different rules regarding executive term limits. Are executive term limits an effective constraint of executive power? In your response, be sure to address one of the following course concepts: democratic regimes, authoritarian regimes, political legitimacy.


Executive term limits are not an effective constraint of power, because they don't effectively limit how much power the branch or an individual can gain over time. There is evidence of this particular claim in both a democratic regime, such as Mexico and an authoritarian regime like Russia.
In Mexico all Presidents can only serve, 1, 6-year term often referred to as the sexenio, and all Presidents have adhered to this term limit throughout the course of Mexican history. However, despite the term limit, the power of the office has continued to grow over time. An example of this power in Mexico is the President's ability to appoint or remove cabinet members and heads of executive branch employees without opposition.
In Russia, an example of an authoritarian regime where there is a 2 consecutive, 4-year term limit, Vladimir Putin's power has been unchecked. Putin, in fact, manipulated the system in 2008 moving from President to Prime Minister and back to President and the power of the office has only continued to grow under his.
๐Ÿ’กTEST TIP I want you to take notice of a few things in my response. 1st, 1๏ธโƒฃ keep the same argument going in both examples, in this case, we discussed that even with term limits, the power of the executive branch or the individual both times. 2nd, 2๏ธโƒฃ be sure to incorporate the term that was required, in this case, I was able to discuss both authoritarian ๐Ÿ‘‘ and democratic ๐Ÿ™‹ regimes.

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