Term of office

Term of office

Term of office or term in office refers to the length of time a person (usually a politician) serves in a particular office.


United Kingdom

Prime Minister

In the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister has no term limits. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Monarch and remains in office so long as he/she can command the confidence of the House of Commons, which in practice equals being the leader of the party with the most number of seats. The current incumbent, David Cameron has a working majority of 30 seats in the current House of Commons.

Parliament has to be elected every five years at a maximum though elections often take place more frequently, most usually every four years, such as 1979, 1983 and 1987, or 1997, 2001 and 2005.

The longest serving First Lord of the Treasury in Britain is Robert Walpole serving between 4 April 1721-11 February 1742. The longest serving leader to be called Prime Minister is Margaret Thatcher serving from May 4 1979 to November 28 1990, while the shortest serving Prime Minister is Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who was Prime Minister for 363 days, from 18 October 1963 to his defeat at the polls on 16 October 1964.

Devolved Administrations

The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are a variation on the system of government used at Westminster.

The office of the leader of the devolved administrations has no numeric term limit imposed upon it. However, in the case of the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government there are fixed terms for which the legislatures can sit. This is imposed at four years. Elections may be held before this time but only if no administration can be formed, which has not happened yet.

United States


In the United States, the president of the United States is elected indirectly through the United States Electoral College to a four-year term, with a term limit of two terms (totaling eight years) or a maximum of ten years if the president acted as president for two years or less in a term where another was elected as president, imposed by the Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1951.

U.S. Representatives serve two-year terms. U.S. Senators serve six-years terms. Members of Congress of both chambers have no term limit.

Federal judges have different terms in office. Article I judges—such as those that sit on the United States bankruptcy courts, United States Tax Court, and United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and certain other federal courts and other forms of adjudicative bodies serve limited terms: The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces for 15 years, bankruptcy courts for 14. However, the majority of the federal judiciary—Article III judges, such as those of the Supreme Court, courts of appeal, and federal district courts—serve for life.

State and territories

The terms of office for officials in state governments varies according to the provisions of state constitutions and state law.

The term for state governors is four years in all states but Vermont and New Hampshire; the Vermont and New Hampshire governors serve for two years.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reported in January 2007 that among state legislatures [1]:

Among territories of the United States:

Members of Council of the District of Columbia serves a four-year term.

See also

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