The word "impeachment" derives from Latin roots expressing the idea of becoming caught or entrapped, and has analogues in the modern French
verb empêcher (to prevent) and the modern English
1804 The Democratic-Republican-controlled United States Senate begins an impeachment trial against Federalist-partisan Supreme Court of the United States Justice Samuel Chase.
1805 Justice Samuel Chase is acquitted at the end of his impeachment trial by the U.S. Senate.
1868 Andrew Johnson becomes the first President of the United States to be impeached by the United States House of Representatives. He is later acquitted in the Senate.
1868 A court of impeachment is organized in the United States Senate to hear charges against President Andrew Johnson.
1868 President Andrew Johnson is acquitted in his impeachment trial by one vote in the United States Senate.
1868 The impeachment trial of U.S. President Andrew Johnson ends with Johnson being found not guilty by one vote.
1871 In North Carolina, William Woods Holden becomes the first governor of a U.S. state to be removed from office by impeachment.
1974 Watergate Scandal: The United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee opens formal and public impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon.
1974 Watergate Scandal: the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee votes 27 to 11 to recommend the first article of impeachment (for obstruction of justice) against President Richard Nixon.
1988 Governor Evan Mecham of Arizona is convicted in his impeachment trial and removed from office.
The word "impeachment" derives from Latin roots expressing the idea of becoming caught or entrapped, and has analogues in the modern French
verb empêcher (to prevent) and the modern English
impede. Medieval popular etymology also associated it (wrongly) with derivations from the Latin impetere (to attack). (In its more frequent and more technical usage, impeachment
of a person in the role of a witness
is the act of challenging the honesty or credibility of that person.)
The process should not be confused with a recall election
. A recall election is usually initiated by voters and can be based on "political charges", for example mismanagement, whereas impeachment is initiated by a constitutional body (usually a legislative body) and is usually, but not always, based on an indictable offense. The process of removing the official is also different.
Impeachment was first used in the British political system. More specifically, the process was first used by the English "Good Parliament" against Baron Latimer
in the second half of the 14th century. Following the British example, the constitutions of Virginia (1776) and Massachusetts (1780) and other states thereafter adopted the impeachment doctrine, however they restricted the punishment to removal of the official from office. In private organizations, a motion to impeach can be used to prefer charges.
United KingdomIn the United Kingdom
, all persons, whether peers or commoners, may be prosecuted and tried by the two Houses
for any crimes whatever. The first recorded impeachment is that of William Latimer, 4th Baron Latimer
during the Good Parliament
of 1376. The last was that of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville
ProcedureIn the United Kingdom
, it is the House of Commons that holds the power of initiating an impeachment. Any member may make accusations of any crime. The member must support the charges with evidence and move
for impeachment. If the Commons carries the motion, the mover receives orders to go to the bar at the House of Lords
and to impeach the accused "in the name of the House of Commons, and all the commons of the United Kingdom."
The mover must tell the Lords that the House of Commons will, in due time, exhibit particular articles against the accused, and make good the same. The Commons then usually selects a committee to draw up the charges and create an "Article of Impeachment" for each. (In the case of Warren Hastings
, however, the drawing up of the articles preceded the formal impeachment.) Once the committee has delivered the articles to the Lords, replies go between the accused and the Commons via the Lords. If the Commons have impeached a peer, the Lords take custody of the accused, otherwise custody goes to Black Rod. The accused remains in custody unless the Lords allow bail. The Lords set a date for the trial while the Commons appoints managers, who act as prosecutors in the trial. The accused may defend by counsel.
The House of Lords
hears the case. The procedure used to be that the Lord Chancellor
presided (or the Lord High Steward
if the defendant was a peer
). However since the Lord Chancellor today is no longer a judge, it is not certain who would preside over an impeachment trial today. If Parliament is not in session, then the trial is conducted by a "Court of the Lord High Steward" instead of the House of Lords (even if the defendant is not a peer). The differences between this court and the House of Lords are that in the House all of the peers are judges of both law and fact, whereas in the Court the Lord High Steward is the sole judge of fact and the peers decide the facts only; and the bishops are not entitled to sit and vote in the Court.
The hearing resembles an ordinary trial: both sides may call witnesses and present evidence. At the end of the hearing the lords vote on the verdict, which is decided by a simple majority, one charge at a time. Upon being called, a lord must rise and declare "guilty, upon my honour" or "not guilty, upon my honour". After voting on all of the articles has taken place, and if the Lords find the defendant guilty, the Commons may move for judgment; the Lords may not declare the punishment until the Commons have so moved. The Lords may then decide whatever punishment they find fit, within the law. A royal pardon
cannot excuse the defendant from trial, but a pardon may reprieve a convicted defendant. However, a pardon cannot override a decision to remove the defendant from the public office they hold.
HistoryParliament has held the power of impeachment since mediæval times. Originally, the House of Lords held that impeachment could only apply to members of the peerage
(nobles), as the nobility (the Lords) would try their own peers, while commoners ought to try their peers (other commoners) in a jury
. However, in 1681, the Commons declared that they had the right to impeach whomsoever they pleased, and the Lords have respected this resolution.
After the reign of Edward IV
, impeachment fell into disuse, the bill of attainder
becoming the preferred form of dealing with undesirable subjects of the Crown. However, during the reign of James I
and thereafter, impeachments became more popular, as they did not require the assent of the Crown, while bills of attainder did, thus allowing Parliament to resist royal attempts to dominate Parliament. The most recent cases of impeachment dealt with Warren Hastings
, Governor-General of India between 1773 and 1786 (impeached in 1788
; the Lords found him not guilty in 1795), and Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville
, First Lord of the Admiralty, in 1806 (acquitted). The last attempted impeachment occurred in 1848, when David Urquhart
accused Lord Palmerston of having signed a secret treaty with Imperial Russia and of receiving monies from the Tsar
. Palmerston survived the vote in the Commons; the Lords did not hear the case.
Impeachment in modern politicsThe procedure has, over time, become rarely used and some legal authorities (such as Halsbury's Laws of England
) consider it to be probably obsolete. The principles of "responsible government" require that the Prime Minister
and other executive officers answer to Parliament, rather than to the Sovereign. Thus the Commons can remove such an officer through a motion of no confidence
without a long, drawn-out impeachment. However, it is argued by some that the remedy of impeachment remains as part of British constitutional law, and that legislation would be required to abolish it. Furthermore, impeachment as a means of punishment for wrongdoing, as distinct from being a means of removing a minister, remains a valid reason for accepting that it continues to be available, at least in theory.
In April 1977 the Young Liberals
' annual conference unanimously passed a motion to call on the Liberal
leader (David Steel
) to move for the impeachment of Ronald King Murray
QC, the Lord Advocate
. Mr. Steel did not call the motion but Murray (now Lord Murray, a former Senator of the College of Justice of Scotland) agrees that the Commons still have the right to initiate an impeachment motion. On 25 August 2004, Plaid Cymru
MP Adam Price
announced his intention to move for the impeachment
of Tony Blair
for his role in involving Britain in the 2003 invasion of Iraq
. In response Peter Hain
, the Commons Leader
, insisted that impeachment was obsolete, given modern government's responsibility to parliament. Ironically, Peter Hain
had served as president of the Young Liberals when they called for the impeachment of Mr. Murray in 1977.
In 2006, General
revived the call for the impeachment of Tony Blair
, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
, for leading the country into the invasion of Iraq in 2003 under allegedly false justification.
gives the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments. Unlike the British system, impeachment is only the first of two stages, and conviction requires a two-thirds vote. Impeachment does not necessarily result in removal from office; it is only a legal statement of charges, parallel to an indictment
in criminal law
. An official who is impeached faces a second legislative vote (whether by the same body or another), which determines conviction, or failure to convict, on the charges embodied by the impeachment. Most constitutions require a supermajority
to convict. Although the subject of the charge is criminal action, it does not constitute a criminal trial; the only question under consideration is the removal of the individual from office, and the possibility of a subsequent vote preventing the removed official from ever again holding political office in the jurisdiction where he was removed. Impeachment with respect to political office should not be confused with witness impeachment
Impeachable offensesIn the United States
, impeachment can occur both at the federal and state level. The Constitution defines impeachment at the federal level and limits impeachment to "The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States" who may only be impeached and removed for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors". Several commentators have suggested that Congress
alone may decide for itself what constitutes a "high crime or misdemeanor". In 1970, then-House Minority Leader
Gerald R. Ford defined the criterion as he saw it: "An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history." Four years later, Gerald Ford
would become president when President Richard Nixon
resigned under the threat of impeachment.
Article III of the Constitution states that judges remain in office "during good behavior", implying that Congress may remove a judge for bad behavior via impeachment and conviction. The House has impeached 14 federal judges and the Senate has convicted six of them.
Officials subject to impeachmentThe central question regarding the Constitutional dispute about the impeachment of members of the legislature is whether members of Congress are officers of the United States. The Constitution grants the House the power to impeach "The President, the Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States." It has been suggested that members of Congress are not officers of the United States. Others, however, believe that members are civil officers and are subject to impeachment.
The House of Representatives did impeach a senator once: Senator William Blount
, in 1798. The Senate expelled Senator Blount and, after initially hearing his impeachment, dismissed the charges for lack of jurisdiction. Left unsettled was the question whether members of Congress were civil officers of the United States. The House has not impeached a Member of Congress since Blount. As each House has the authority to expel its own members without involving the other chamber, expulsion has been the method used for removing Members of Congress.
, which is integral to the Rules of the House of Representatives, states that impeachment is set in motion by charges made on the floor, charges preferred by a memorial, a member's resolution referred to a committee, a message from the president, charges transmitted from the legislature of a state or territory or from a grand jury, or from facts developed and reported by an investigating committee of the House. It further states that a proposition to impeach is a question of high privilege in the House and at once supersedes business otherwise in order under the rules governing the order of business.
ProcessThe impeachment process is a two-step procedure. The House of Representatives
must first pass by a simple majority articles of impeachment, which constitute the formal allegation or allegations. Upon their passage, the defendant has been "impeached". Next, the Senate
tries the accused. In the case of the impeachment of a president, the Chief Justice of the United States
presides over the proceedings. For the impeachment of any other official, the Constitution is silent on who shall preside, suggesting that this role falls to the Senate's usual presiding officer. This may include the impeachment of the vice president, although legal theories suggest that allowing a defendant to be the judge in his own case would be a blatant conflict of interest
. If the Vice President did not preside over an impeachment (of anyone besides the President), the duties would fall to the President pro tempore of the Senate
To convict the accused, a two-thirds majority of the senators present is required. Conviction automatically removes the defendant from office. Following conviction, the Senate may vote to further punish the individual by barring him from holding future federal office, elected or appointed. Conviction by the Senate does not bar criminal prosecution. Even after an accused has left office, it is possible to impeach to disqualify the person from future office or from certain emoluments of his prior office (such as a pension). If there is no charge for which a two-thirds majority of the senators present vote "guilty", the defendant is acquitted and no punishment is imposed.
History of Federal Impeachment Proceedings in the United StatesCongress regards impeachment as a power to be used only in extreme cases; the House has initiated impeachment proceedings only 64 times since 1789 (most recently against Judge Thomas Porteous
of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
) with only the following 19 of these proceedings actually resulting in the House passing Articles of Impeachment:
- Two presidents:
- Andrew JohnsonAndrew JohnsonAndrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...
, Democrat/National Union, was impeached in 1868 after violating the then-newly created Tenure of Office Act. President Johnson was acquitted by the Senate, falling one vote short of the necessary 2/3 needed to remove him from office, voting 35-19 to remove him. The Tenure of Office Act would later be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United StatesSupreme Court of the United StatesThe Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...
in dictaObiter dictumObiter dictum is Latin for a statement "said in passing". An obiter dictum is a remark or observation made by a judge that, although included in the body of the court's opinion, does not form a necessary part of the court's decision...
- Bill ClintonBill ClintonWilliam Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...
, Democrat, was impeachedImpeachment of Bill ClintonBill Clinton, President of the United States, was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice on December 19, 1998, but acquitted by the Senate on February 12, 1999. Two other impeachment articles, a second perjury charge and a charge of abuse of...
on December 19, 1998, by the House of Representatives on articles charging perjuryPerjuryPerjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...
(specifically, lying to a federal grand juryGrand juryA grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...
) by a 228–206 vote, and obstruction of justiceObstruction of justiceThe crime of obstruction of justice, in United States jurisdictions, refers to the crime of interfering with the work of police, investigators, regulatory agencies, prosecutors, or other officials...
by a 221–212 vote. The House rejected other articles. One was a count of perjuryPerjuryPerjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...
in a civil deposition in Paula JonesPaula JonesPaula Corbin Jones is a former Arkansas state employee who sued U.S. President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment. The lawsuit was dismissed before trial on the grounds that Jones failed to demonstrate any damages...
's sexual harassmentSexual harassmentSexual harassment, is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. In some contexts or circumstances, sexual harassment is illegal. It includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and...
lawsuit against Clinton (by a 205–229 vote) and an article which accused Clinton of abuse of powerAbuse of PowerAbuse of Power is a novel written by radio talk show host Michael Savage.- Plot :Jack Hatfield is a hardened former war correspondent who rose to national prominence for his insightful, provocative commentary...
by a 48–285 vote. President Clinton was acquitted by the Senate on February 12, 1999. The Senate vote fell short of the necessary 2/3 needed to remove him from office, voting 45-55 to remove him on obstruction of justice and 50-50 on perjury.
- Andrew Johnson
- One cabinetCabinet (government)A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...
officer, William W. BelknapWilliam W. BelknapWilliam Worth Belknap was a United States Army general, government administrator, and United States Secretary of War. He was the only Cabinet secretary ever to have been impeached by the United States House of Representatives.-Birth and early years:Born in Newburgh, New York to career soldier...
(Secretary of War). He resigned before his trial, and was later acquitted. Allegedly most of those who voted to acquit him believed that his resignation had removed their jurisdiction.
- One SenatorUnited States SenateThe United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...
, William BlountWilliam BlountWilliam Blount, was a United States statesman. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention for North Carolina, the first and only governor of the Southwest Territory, and Democratic-Republican Senator from Tennessee . He played a major role in establishing the state of Tennessee. He was the...
, in 1797. He was expelled by the Senate, which declined to try the impeachment.
- One Justice of the Supreme Court of the United StatesSupreme Court of the United States
, Samuel ChaseSamuel ChaseSamuel Chase was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and earlier was a signatory to the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Maryland. Early in life, Chase was a "firebrand" states-righter and revolutionary...
in 1804. He was acquitted by the Senate.
- Fourteen other federal judgeFederal judgeFederal judges are judges appointed by a federal level of government as opposed to the state / provincial / local level.-Brazil:In Brazil, federal judges of first instance are chosen exclusively by public contest...
s, including Alcee HastingsAlcee HastingsAlcee Lamar Hastings is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1993. He is a member of the Democratic Party.-Early life, education and career:...
, who was impeached and convicted for taking over $150,000 in bribe money in exchange for sentencing leniency. The Senate did not bar Hastings from holding future office, and Hastings won election to the House of Representatives from Florida. Hastings's name was mentioned as a possible Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, but was passed over by House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, presumably because of his previous impeachment and removal. Source U.S. Senate
, Republican, was never impeached. While the House Judiciary Committee did approve articles of impeachment against him and did report those articles to the House of Representatives, Nixon resigned before the House could consider the impeachment resolutions and was subsequently pardoned by President Ford
PakistanThe country's ruling coalition said on August 7, 2008, that it would seek the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf
, alleging the U.S.-backed former general had "eroded the trust of the nation" and increasing pressure on him to resign. He resigned on 18 August 2008. Another kind of impeachment in Pakistan is known as the vote of less-confidence or vote of mis-understanding and has been practiced by provincial assemblies to weaken the national assembly.
Impeaching a president requires a two-thirds majority support of lawmakers in a joint session of both houses of Parliament.
PhilippinesImpeachment in the Philippines follows procedures similar to the United States
. Under Sections 2 and 3, Article XI, Constitution of the Philippines
, the House of Representatives of the Philippines
has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment against the President
, Vice President
, members of the Supreme Court
, members of the Constitutional Commissions (Commission on Elections
,Civil Service Commission Commission on Audit), and the Ombudsman
. When a third of its membership has endorsed the impeachment articles, it is then transmitted to the Senate of the Philippines
which tries and decide, as impeachment tribunal, the impeachment case. A main difference from US proceedings however is that only 1/3 of House members are required to approve the motion to impeach the President (as opposed to 50%+1 members in their US counterpart). In the Senate, selected members of the House of Representatives act as the prosecutors and the Senators act as judges with the Senate President presiding over the proceedings (the Chief Justice jointly presides with the Senate President if the President is on trial). Like the United States, to convict the official in question requires that a minimum of 2/3 (i.e., 16 of 24 members) of all the Members of the Senate vote in favor of conviction. If an impeachment attempt is unsuccessful or the official is acquitted, no new cases can be filed against that impeachable official for at least one full year.
Impeachable offenses and officialsThe 1987 Philippine Constitution says the grounds for impeachment include culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, graft and corruption, and betrayal of public trust. These offenses are considered "high crimes and misdemeanors" under the Philippine Constitution.
The President, Vice President, Supreme Court justices, and members of the Constitutional Commission and Ombudsman are all considered impeachable officials under the Constitution.
Impeachment proceedings and attemptsJoseph Estrada
was the first Philippine president impeached by the House in 2000, but the trial ended prematurely due to outrage over a vote to open an envelope where that motion was narrowly defeated by his allies.
In 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, impeachment complaints were filed against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
, but none of the cases reached the required endorsement of 1/3 of the members for transmittal to, and trial by, the Senate.
In 2011, the House successfully impeached
Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, becoming the second person to be impeached.
Republic of IrelandIn the Republic of Ireland
formal impeachment only applies to the Irish president
. Article 12 of the Irish Constitution
provides that, unless judged to be "permanently incapacitated" by the Supreme Court, the president can only be removed from office by the houses of the Oireachtas
(parliament) and only for the commission of "stated misbehaviour". Either house of the Oireachtas may impeach the president, but only by a resolution approved by a majority of at least two-thirds of its total number of members; and a house may not consider a proposal for impeachment unless requested to do so by at least thirty of its number.
Where one house impeaches the president, the remaining house either investigates the charge or commissions another body or committee to do so. The investigating house can remove the president if it decides, by at least a two-thirds majority of its members, both that they are guilty of the charge of which they stand accused, and that the charge is sufficiently serious as to warrant their removal. To date no impeachment of an Irish president has ever taken place. The president holds a largely ceremonial office, the dignity of which is considered important, so it is likely that a president would resign from office long before undergoing formal conviction or impeachment.
The Republic's Constitution and law also provide that only a joint resolution of both houses of the Oireachtas may remove a judge. Although often referred to as the 'impeachment' of a judge, this procedure does not technically involve impeachment.
- Austria: The Austrian Federal PresidentPresident of AustriaThe President of Austria is the federal head of state of Austria. Though theoretically entrusted with great power by the constitution, in practice the President acts, for the most part, merely as a ceremonial figurehead...
can be impeached by the Federal AssemblyFederal Assembly of AustriaThe Federal Assembly is the name given to a formal joint session of the two houses of the Austrian federal parliament, the National Council and the Federal Council....
(Bundesversammlung) before the Constitutional Court. The constitution also provides for the recall of the president by a referendumReferendumA referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...
. Neither of these courses has ever been taken, likely because the President is an unobtrusive and largely ceremonial figurehead who, having little power, is hardly in a position to abuse it.
- Brazil: The President of Federative Republic of BrazilBrazilBrazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...
can be impeached. This happened to Fernando Collor de MelloFernando Collor de MelloFernando Affonso Collor de Mello was the 32nd president of Brazil from 1990 to 1992, when he resigned in a failed attempt to stop his trial of impeachment by the Brazilian Senate...
, due to evidence of bribery and misappropriation. State governors and mayors can also be impeached, though only the latter have actually been impeached.
- Croatia: President of CroatiaPresident of CroatiaThe President of Croatia , officially styled the President of the Republic represents the Republic of Croatia in the country and abroad as the head of state, maintains the regular and coordinated operation and stability of the national government system, and safeguards the independence and...
Sabor starts the impeachment process with two-thirds majority in favor of impeachment and then Constitutional Court has to accept that with two-thirds majority of justices in favor of impeachment. This has never happened in the history of the Republic of CroatiaCroatiaCroatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...
- Czech Republic: President of the Czech RepublicPresident of the Czech RepublicThe President of the Czech Republic is the head of state of the Czech Republic. Unlike his counterparts in Austria and Hungary, who are generally considered figureheads, the Czech President has a considerable role in political affairs...
can be impeached only for an act of high treason (which is not specified in the Constitution of the Czech Republic itself). The process has to start Senate of the Czech RepublicSenate of the Czech RepublicThe Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic , usually referred to as Senát, is the upper chamber of the Parliament of the Czech Republic...
which only has the right to impeach resident, this passes case to the Constitutional Court of the Czech RepublicConstitutional Court of the Czech RepublicThe Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic is a specialized type of court which primarily works to protect the people of the Czech Republic against violations of the constitution. In this respect, it is similar in functionality to the US Supreme Court, but is distinct from the Supreme Court of...
which has to decide whether the President is guilty or not. If the Court decides that the President is guilty than the President loses his office and the ability to be elected President of the Czech Republic ever again. No Czech president has ever been impeached.
- Germany: The Federal President of GermanyPresident of GermanyThe President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...
can be impeached both by the BundestagBundestagThe Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...
and by the BundesratBundesrat of GermanyThe German Bundesrat is a legislative body that represents the sixteen Länder of Germany at the federal level...
for willfully violating German law. Once the Bundestag or the Bundesrat impeaches the president, the Federal Constitutional CourtFederal Constitutional Court of GermanyThe Federal Constitutional Court is a special court established by the Grundgesetz, the German basic law...
decides whether the President is guilty as charged and, if this is the case, whether to remove him or her from office. No such case has yet occurred, not the least because the President's functions are mostly ceremonial and they seldom make controversial decisions. The Federal Constitutional Court also has the power to remove federal judges from office for willfully violating core principles of the federal constitution or a stateStates of GermanyGermany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...
- India: The President of IndiaPresident of IndiaThe President of India is the head of state and first citizen of India, as well as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. President of India is also the formal head of all the three branches of Indian Democracy - Legislature, Executive and Judiciary...
can be impeached by the ParliamentParliament of IndiaThe Parliament of India is the supreme legislative body in India. Founded in 1919, the Parliament alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all political bodies in India. The Parliament of India comprises the President and the two Houses, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha...
before the expiry of his term for violation of the Constitution. Other than impeachment, no other penalty can be given to the President for the violation of the Constitution. No Indian President has faced impeachment proceedings. Hence, the provisions for impeachment have never been tested.
- Iran: Member of Majlis representatives and the Leader can remove the President. In January 1980, Abolhassan BanisadrAbolhassan BanisadrAbulhassan Banisadr is an Iranian politician, economist and human rights activist who served as the first President of Iran from 4 February 1980 after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the abolition of the monarchy until his impeachment on 21 June 1981 by the Parliament of Iran...
, then the president of Iran, was impeached by the Majlis representatives in June, 1981. The Assembly of ExpertsAssembly of ExpertsThe Assembly of Experts of Iran , also translated as Council of Experts, is a deliberative body of 86 Mujtahids that is charged with electing and removing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities.Members of the assembly are elected from a government-screened list of candidates by...
can impeach the LeaderSupreme Leader of IranThe Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The post was established by the constitution in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...
- Italy: The President of the Republic can be impeached through a majority vote of the Parliament in joint session only for high treason and for attempting to overthrow the Constitution. Then, he is tried by the Constitutional Court, integrated with sixteen citizens older than forty chosen by lot from a list compiled by the Parliament every nine years.
- Norway: Members of government, representatives of the national assembly (Stortinget) and Supreme Court judges can be impeached for criminal offences tied to their duties and committed in office, according to the Constitution of 1814, §§ 86 and 87. The procedural rules were modelled on the US rules and are quite similar to them. Impeachment has been used eight times since 1814, last in 1927. Many argue that impeachment has fallen into desuetudeDesuetudeIn law, desuetude is a doctrine that causes statutes, similar legislation or legal principles to lapse and become unenforceable by a long habit of non-enforcement or lapse of time. It is what happens to laws that are not repealed when they become obsolete...
- Romania: The President can be impeached by Parliament and is then suspended. A referendum then follows to determine whether the suspended President should be removed from office. President Traian Băsescu was recently impeached by the Parliament. A referendum was held on May 19, 2007. A large majority of the electorate voted against removing the president from office.
- Russia: The President of Russia can be impeached if both the State DumaState DumaThe State Duma , common abbreviation: Госду́ма ) in the Russian Federation is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia , the upper house being the Federation Council of Russia. The Duma headquarters is located in central Moscow, a few steps from Manege Square. Its members are referred to...
(which initiates the impeachment process through the formation of a special investigation committee) and the Federation Council of RussiaFederation Council of RussiaFederation Council of Russia ) is the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia , according to the 1993 Constitution of the Russian Federation...
vote by a two-thirds majority in favor of impeachment and, additionally, the Supreme CourtSupreme Court of the Russian FederationThe Supreme Court of the Russian Federation is the court of last resort in Russian administrative law, civil law and criminal law cases. It also supervises the work of lower courts. Its predecessor is the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union....
finds the President guilty of treasonTreasonIn law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...
or a similarly heavy crime against the nation and the Constitutional CourtConstitutional Court of the Russian FederationThe Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation is a high court which is empowered to rule on whether or not certain laws or presidential decrees are in fact contrary to the Constitution of Russia...
confirms that the constitutional procedure of the impeachment process was correctly observed. In 1995-1999, the Duma made several attempts to impeach then-President Boris YeltsinBoris YeltsinBoris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...
, but they never had a sufficient amount of votes for the process to reach the Federation Council.
- Republic of China (Taiwan): In TaiwanRepublic of ChinaThe Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...
(officially called the ROC) officials can be impeached by a two-thirds vote in the Legislative YuanLegislative YuanThe Legislative Yuan is the unicameral legislature of the Republic of China .The Legislative Yuan is one of the five branches of government stipulated by the Constitution of the Republic of China, which follows Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People...
together with an absolute majority in a referendum.
- Venezuela: Any elected authority (including governors, vice-president and president) can be impeached after half the period for which the authority was elected. This provided that no less than 20 % of the registered voters in the jurisdiction ask for the process to start and afterwards more or the same number of people that elected the authority, vote in favor of the removal of the latter. The president can also be removed from charge if the supreme court rules so, or in case of mental insanity or physical incapacity.