The President of the United Federation of Planets is the democratically elected head of state and head of government of the United Federation of Planets. As leader of the Federation, the president is widely considered the most powerful person in the known Alpha and Beta Quadrants. (TOS movies: The Voyage Home, The Undiscovered Country, DS9 episodes: "Homefront", "Paradise Lost")
Election and Term of Office
The President ascends to the position through a popular election, serving an unlimited number of four-year terms. Presidential candidates are declared by the Council of the United Federation of Planets, which reviews anonymously-submitted petitions for candidacy before declaring that a given individual qualifies for the office. When a president unexpectedly resigns, dies, or is otherwise unable to discharge the powers of the office, the Federation Council declares a councillor to be President Pro Tempore; the President Pro Tempore then serves for a short term length set by law, while a special election is then called by the Council. (TNG novel: A Time for War, A Time for Peace, ST novel: Articles of the Federation.)
While a presidential term of office is normally four standard years long, this can sometimes change. The first presidential election after President Nanietta Bacco's special election in 2379 was scheduled for 2385, a full six years later. (TNG - Cold Equations novel: Silent Weapons)
- The reason for Bacco's lengthened term is unestablished. It may be the result of the momentous disaster the Federation suffered as a result of the Borg Invasion of 2381.
The president's office is on Floor Fifteen of the Federation's seat of government, the Palais de la Concorde, in Paris, Earth. Fifteen also features a private study for the president, an office room and waiting room for the president's secretary and guests, the Presidential Transporter Room, a large hallway, and two large meeting rooms named after former presidents: the Ra-ghoratreii Room and the Wescott Room. (TNG novel: A Time to Kill, ST novel: Articles of the Federation.)
The fourteenth and thirteenth floors house the president's staff, with the Presidential Chief of Staff's office and the offices of the cabinet members located on the outer rim of Floor Fourteen, while the presidential support staff, including the various deputy chiefs of staff, speechwriters, and other presidential employees, are housed on Floor Thirteen and the innermost rim of Fourteen's offices. It is customary for each administration to redecorate the Presidential Office and the top three floors of the Palais as that president sees fit. (ST novel: Articles of the Federation)
The official residence of the President of the United Federation of Planets is Château Thelian, located in the Vallée de la Loire in France and built to the specifications of other such famous châteaux in the valley. Château Thelian is as large as the Château de Saint Brisson, which itself served as the residence of former presidential Chief of Staff Koll Azernal. Built during the term of Thelianaresth "Thelian" th'Vorothishria in the early 24th Century to serve as his residence, Château Thelian features a sitting room with the portraits of each president since Thelian. Château Thelian also features a private transporter room, typically used for quick transit between the château and the Palais. (ST novel: Articles of the Federation)
Until 2381, the president was protected at all times by members of Starfleet Security and its special presidential protection division. The Security officers were typically dressed in standard Federation Starfleet duty uniforms; on formal occasions, they would sometimes wear Starfleet dress uniforms or the formal dress of their homeworld. Starfleet Security maintained a continuous physical presence within the Palais adjacent to the president, and also was responsible for general security in the Palais. (ST novel: Articles of the Federation.) In 2381, a division of the Federation Security Agency called the Protection Detail took over the duty of guarding the President. Protection Detail agents were not members of Starfleet and wore dark civilian uniforms. (ST - Destiny novel: Gods of Night, TNG - Cold Equations novel: Silent Weapons)
For short-range interplanetary transport, the president has use of three private Starfleet shuttlecraft. For interstellar journeys, the President has use of a civilian ship known as Paris One. Federation starships such as the Galaxy-class USS Venture sometimes serve for presidential transport as well. (ST novels: Articles of the Federation, A Singular Destiny.)
In the early 2160s, vessels of the new Federation Starfleet carrying the Federation Council President (an ancestral office) were known as Starfleet One. (ENT - Rise of the Federation novel: A Choice of Futures) This tradition had been maintained as of 2385, when the then-President Pro Tempore boarded a ship designated Starfleet One in order to campaign for the 2385 Special Federation Presidential Election on the planet Betazed. (ST - The Fall novel: A Ceremony of Losses) In the 2280s of an alternate timeline, even Starfleet shuttlecraft ferrying the Federation President received this designation. (TOS novel: The Chimes at Midnight.)
- Starfleet craft carrying the President in Articles of the Federation and in The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice were not established to assume any special designations.
- See: Presidential Transport.
Form of Address
The proper form of address for a President of the United Federation of Planets depends upon the nomenclature used by that individual's culture for their gender identity. Common forms of address for Federation presidents include:
- "Mister President" if a man (multiple cultures) (TOS movie: The Undiscovered Country)
- "Madam President" if a woman (multiple cultures) (ST novel: Articles of the Federation)
- "Zha President" if a zhen (Andorian) (DS9 novel: Andor: Paradigm, ST - The Fall novel: Peaceable Kingdoms)
- "Sha President" if a shen (Andorian) (DS9 novel: Andor: Paradigm)
- "Cha President" if a chan (Andorian) (DS9 novel: Andor: Paradigm)
- "Tha President" if a thaan (Andorian) (DS9 novel: Andor: Paradigm)
- "Shir President" if intersex (Hermat) (NF novel: House of Cards)
The duties of the President of the United Federation of Planets are numerous. As the Federation lacks a strict separation of powers found in many governments, the president not only serves as head of the executive branch, but also serves as the head of the legislature. As such, the Articles of the Federation hold that the president is required to preside over all full sessions of the Council of the United Federation of Planets "barring special circumstances." The president "has the option, but is not required, to preside over meetings of the various sub-councils;" if the president chooses not to preside over a sub-council, then the chair of said council serves as the presiding officer. The president is also required to nominate Federation Councillors to the various sub-councils, with the full Council then being responsible for ratifying such nominations. While presiding over a Council or sub-council session, the president reserves the right to determine who may or may not speak to the council from the speaker's floor, and may also determine when voting on a bill or resolution is to take place, even though the president may not vote. (ST novel: Articles of the Federation)
The president is generally expected to solicit the participation of councillors from the appropriate sub-councils when dealing with issues pertaining to that sub-council's jurisdiction, and a full sub-council sometimes is capable of exercising authority nearly equal to that of the president's over an issue. For instance, the Federation Security Council has the right to order Starfleet Operations to issue orders to subordinate Starfleet agencies such as the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, a right shared only by the admiralty and the president, though an order from the president does over-ride an order from a sub-council in executive issues. (ST novel: Articles of the Federation, TNG novel: A Time to Heal)
The president has the right to executive review of legislation passed by the Federation Council, and may veto a bill. From there, the bill may be sent back to the Council, which may override the veto if a sufficiently large number of councillors vote as such. The president may also introduce bills and resolutions to the Council. (TNG novel: A Time to Heal)
The president serves as the commander-in-chief of the Federation's armed forces (DS9 episodes: "Homefront", "Paradise Lost"), although the specific post of "Commander-in-Chief of the Federation Starfleet" is held by the highest-ranking Starfleet officer (TOS movie: The Undiscovered Country).
The president has the right to declare a state of emergency on a Federation Member State, a political subdivision of a Member State, or in a political subdivision of the Federation itself. In 2372, for instance, former president Jaresh-Inyo of Grazer declared a state of emergency on Earth (the primary planetary political subdivision of United Earth, a founding Member, and capital planet of the UFP itself) in response to concerns about Changeling infiltration when that planet's power distribution system was sabotaged. This state of emergency entailed deploying large numbers of Federation Starfleet personnel across the planetary surface; President Jaresh-Inyo had originally criticized the measure as tantamount to a declaration of martial law before being convinced of its necessity. (DS9 episodes: "Homefront", "Paradise Lost")
The president may preside over special sessions of the Federation Judiciary Council which serve as courts-martial of Starfleet officers; former President Hiram Roth, for instance, presided over the council session that served as the court-martial of Starfleet officers James T. Kirk, Leonard McCoy, Montgomery Scott, Pavel Chekov, Hikaru Sulu, and Nyota Uhura in 2286, following the destruction of the first USS Enterprise in orbit of the Genesis Planet. (TOS movie: The Voyage Home)
The president is responsible for the appointment of Federation ambassadors to foreign nations, a responsibility apparently wielded unilaterally, without requiring the authorization of the Federation Council. (TNG novel: A Time for War, A Time for Peace)
The president also sets the course for Federation foreign policy, though the Council can override the president's foreign policy directives if such a resolution has a sufficiently large majority of councillors behind it. (TTN novel: Taking Wing, TOS movie: The Undiscovered Country)
The president often presides over state dinners, such as the abortive state dinner held in the Roth Dining Room of the Palais in 2380 to welcome the Trinni/ek delegation to Earth. (ST novel: Articles of the Federation)
The president also has the power to pardon criminals. In 2257, the president - noting former Starfleet Commander Michael Burnham's heroic service during the Federation-Klingon War of 2256-2257 - ordered Burnham's criminal record erased, and she was reinstated to full rank. (DSC episode: "Will You Take My Hand?")
History of the Role
When the Federation was first founded, there was no Federation presidency. Rather, there existed an ancestral office called the President of the Council of the United Federation of Planets. The office of Council President was created six months after the Council first convened, and there existed controversy over what kinds of powers the Council President would exercise, with some Federates even advocating for a yearly rotating Council presidency. As the Federation Council only met twice a year in the early 2160s, the Council President was expected to act for the Council the rest of the time. The Federation Council President was addressed as "Mister/Madam President," and was considered to be the commander-in-chief of the new Federation Starfleet. The first Federation Council President, Thomas Vanderbilt of United Earth, operated out of a structure in Paris known as the Federation Executive Building. (ENT - Rise of the Federation novel: A Choice of Futures)
By 2164, the Council had voted to establish a full Federation presidency, popularly elected with a four-year term. The 2164 Federation Presidential Election took place in October of that year, and Haroun al-Rashid of United Earth became the first popularly-elected President of the United Federation of Planets, for a term set to begin in January 2165. (ENT - Rise of the Federation novel: Tower of Babel)
The USS Enterprise finished its famous five-year mission under Captain James T. Kirk on an election year. Fearing that the Originalist faction might win the upcoming election, Areel Shaw tried to convinced Kirk to run for the presidency, only for him to convince her to run. (TOS - Year Five - Weaker Than Man comics: "Issue 13", "Issue 14")
The Federation presidency has traditionally been an office considerably less autonomous than the presidencies of many planetary governments. In the wake of the Zife Administration and the Dominion War, however, the presidency has become a considerably more autonomous office with much less overview from the Federation Council. The president, however, nonetheless serves as the political and inspirational leader of the United Federation of Planets, and is still looked up to for guidance and leadership by the people of the Federation. Notable presidents who have taken strong steps in defining the role of the presidency include Haroun al-Rashid, Avaranthi sh'Rothress, Kenneth Wescott, Ra-ghoratreii, Thelianaresth th'Vorothishria, Zife (ST novel: Articles of the Federation), and Nanietta Bacco (ST - The Fall novel: Peaceable Kingdoms).
- According to Decipher RPG module: Starfleet Operations Manual, there has never been a Tellarite President due to the species' argumentative nature not being popular amongst average citizens. Articles of the Federation, however, refers to Madza Bral as having been the first Federation President from a Federation Member other than the five founding Members, which may imply that there have been Tellarite Presidents. The later DTI novel: Forgotten History establishes that a Tellarite from Mars named Chab jav Lorg served as Federation President in the 2270s.
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- Presidential Timeline - List of presidents organized by year