I think this question could be a good complement to What royal title can an absolutistic ruler have?.

I have a republic, and I need to refer to its current actual leader somehow.

Two obvious choices are President or Prime Minister. If I refer to the leader as a President, I’ll automatically hint we’re talking about a presidential system. On the other hand, if I say Prime Minister, it will be clear this is a parliamentary system.

The issue is, I wouldn’t like to have to decide about the exact form of this republic yet. So, I need a different, probably more obscure title (this would be fitting since the republic in question doesn’t have a 1:1 resemblance to any real-world country). I was thinking about a Consul. Is it a good choice? What are the other possibilities?

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    $\begingroup$ There are hundreds of possible titles... The Optimum, the Second to Nobody, The Supreme Delegate, The Prime among Equals, the Senior Advisor, etc. etc. Also note that parliamentary systems also have a President. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Mar 9 '17 at 12:18
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    $\begingroup$ A title is just a title. Wether or not a president has any actual power depends on the rules your republic gave itself. The US president (apparently) wields more power than the german president. Other countries might call hm "leader of the central committee", others "massimo lider", and the next might call him "senior executive decisionmaker", or maybe even just "Paul". It's just a name for a job, so you can choose anything you like as long as you make sure it is understand what the word is supposed to mean in your setting. $\endgroup$ – Burki Mar 9 '17 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ As for an actual suggestion. Any history of that country? "Regent" is an official appointed to rule while next royal in line is too young, perhaps it used to be a monarchy, and way it transitioned caused "Regent" to stay as a legacy (for some bonus obfuscation of actual political system)? After all "minister" dates back to times of kings and "chancellor" dates back to Roman Republic (but meant something a bit different). A lot of titles are in fact a legacies of times long gone. $\endgroup$ – M i ech Mar 9 '17 at 12:31
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    $\begingroup$ To illustrate that any title is plausible you don't have to look much further than Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, where neither their president nor prime minister were considered the actual leaders, but the secretary of the central committee of the ruling party was; literally a historical outgrowth of a secretarial position initially (~1920) officially literally responsible with the secretarial duty documenting the decisions of that committee. $\endgroup$ – Peteris Mar 9 '17 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ Since this is the direct counterpart to an interesting, highly voted, and not closed question, I don't see how anyone can vote to close this question. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Mar 9 '17 at 14:12

With an assist from Wikipedia...

List of Elected Heads of State

President - United States, France, Germany, many others... (alternatively, Federal President in Austria)

Chairman of the Presidency - Bosnia. Here there are three heads of state (one Bosnian, one Serbian, one Croatian). They are elected together to 4 year terms, and the one with the most votes becomes chairman. However, the chair rotates every 8 months, so everyone gets to ride.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong - Malaysia. Means literally 'He Who Was Made Lord,' and is the elected monarch of Malaysia. Nine of the 13 Malaysian states have hereditary local rulers. From among them, a Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected every 5 years. I suppose you could use any other name for a King or Queen here as well. After all, they elected their monarchs on Naboo.

Supreme Leader - North Korea. The previous Kims were technically elected. However, Kim Jong-un has not yet been elected; there was supposed to be an election last year. I don't think anyone was surprised when it didn't happen.

Sovereign - Vatican City. The pope is elected, and in his capacity as the head of state (and absolute dictator, really) of the Vatican, his title is Sovereign.

Captain Regent - San Marino. Two are elected twice a year. Also serve as heads of government.

Note: Pretty much everyone has a President these days

List of Elected Heads of Government

Prime Minister - UK, Russia, Canada, Japan, many others. This is the most common name.

President - United States, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, others. In many countries there is no distinction between head of state and head of government.

Chief Executive Officer - Afghanistan. Also valid when mega-corporations become sovereign in a dystopian future.

Chancellor - Germany, and Federal Chancellor in Austria.

Chairman of the Council of Ministers - Bosnia.

Premier - Taiwan, China (if it counts), Niue. The Taiwanese head of government is also called the President of the Executive Yuan. Yuan means court, best I can tell.

Head of Government - Morocco, Tunisia. Booooring.

Federal Councilor - Switzerland. The Swiss have a seven member group with a President and Vice-President that acts as a collective Head of State and Head of Government. Since the senior member is the President, I didn't mention this in the Heads of State Section. There is also a Federal Chancellor who is a sort of Chief of Staff of the the federal bureacracy. Wikipedia insists that the Federal Chancellor is not a 'member of the government,' but I know duck when it quacks.

Captain Regent - San Marino.

Taoiseach - Irish. The Irish gotta be different.

Ambiguous titles from the Ancient World

Consul - Ancient Rome. Two were elected for one year terms. This is a little more confusing, since there were two consuls and multiple Praetors who all had imperium, the right to command armies, which is normally a thing associated with only a Head of State nowadays. To make it even more confusing, another official, the Censor was held in higher dignitity than the Consuls, yet had no imperium. I would say that if an Ancient Roman republican government were operating today, the Censor would be the head of state an the Consuls would be heads of government. The real power of the Consulship was that it was a pathway to the Senate, which was the dominant power in the legislature-first Roman republic.

Dictator - Ancient Rome. Ironically, the dictator was originally elected to a limited term to deal with a military emergency.

Tyrant - Ancient Greece. Also ironic, the Tyrants were usually (though not always) elected. I mean, Hitler was elected too, so I guess its not that ironic.

Archon - Ancient Greece. This is another confusing title, as there were usually multiple Archons in a given city-state. The Archon Eponymous was the chief Magistrate in Athens, while the Polemarch (senior to him) was the head of the army and the Archon Basileus was the most senior Archon, and something like a head of state. As with Rome, the real power of the Archons in Athens was admittance for life into the Areopagus, a Senatorial body which held most of the power from ~680-580 BC. There were too many variations of government both over time and between city state to mention here...

Ephors - Sparta. ...except for the Athenian's ancient rivals! How can we not mention them. Sparta had two kings, but also had five ephors. Again, its hard to tell exactly who was head of state and who was head of government. According the Plato, the ephors had the real power, while the Kings were glorified generals. I'm sure it shifted through time.

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  • $\begingroup$ Lord protector - same derivation as "captain regent", ie. the guy who runs the army instead of a king. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Mar 14 '17 at 6:43
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    $\begingroup$ The First (French) Republic had Directors (for a short while) and then Consuls (for another short while). Napoleon was First Consul before he made himself Emperor. Also, Roman dictators were appointed for many various reasons, not necessarily related to military emergenices; see the deliciously named dictators clavi figendi causâ (= to hammer a nail) and the longer list of dictators rei gerundae causâ (= to take care of things). $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 14 '17 at 21:27

Your title can be pretty much anything you want, but keep in mind that those kinds of titles are as much marketing as anything else. Fearless Leader invokes a banana republic nutjob, President for a career politician. Likewise with Prime Minister. We hear these titles and even though the political reality is different in each case, when we hear the title we get a mental image. With that in mind, and given your worlds political structure, the possible titles should winnow themselves down. Your leader may simply call himself the Tyrant. a simple, clean title that does evoke something sinister, but the evil is a little diffuse.

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Titles are cultural dependent and reflect a given society's history. For example, Supreme Leader might indicate a history where dictatorships or absolute rulers had been the norm. While First Among Equals is the result of a democratic tradition.

One suggestion that appeals is First Citizen because it sounds democratic, however, it does have an ancestry that suggests more absolutist power.

Princeps civitatis ("First Citizen") was an official title of a Roman Emperor as the title determining the leader in Ancient Rome at the beginning of the Roman Empire. It created the principate Roman imperial system.


On the positive side this does have the interesting ambiguity of seeming to be equalitarian and democratic yet conceals the iron hand of imperial power.

Answers to your question have thrown up a veritable wealth of possible titles. The other answerers are to be commended for their diligent research.

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I just ran two words for ruler together, for example:


Lord President

High Commodore

Supreme Governor

Chancellor Captain


Feel free to use any of these, hope this is helpful.

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