Primus inter pares

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:''See [[First Among Equals]] for the novel by Jeffrey Archer.''
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'''Primus inter pares''', or ''first among equals'', is a Latin phrase indicating that a person is the most senior of a group of people sharing the same rank or office.  Usually, the role is considered a necessary inclusion in a system in which all parties are equal. 
  
'''''First among equals''''' is a phrase which indicates that a person is the most senior of a group of people sharing the same rank or office. The concept is also known by its [[Latin]] equivalent, '''''primus inter pares''''', from which it originates. Examples include the [[Prime Minister]] of many [[Commonwealth of Nations | Commonwealth]] nations, the President of the [[European Commission]], the [[Chief Justice of the United States]], and some religious figures, such as the Dean of the [[College of Cardinals]] of the [[Catholic Church]], or the [[Ecumenical Patriarch]] of the [[Eastern Orthodox Church]]. The term was also used by [[Roman Emperor]]s (see [[Princeps]]) as a means of reducing the appearance of dictatorship (which was particularly important during the early [[Roman Empire]] to appease those who may have longed for a return to the old [[Roman Republic]]).
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In the Orthodox Church, the [[Church of Constantinople|Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople]] (currently His All-Holiness [[Bartholomew I (Archontonis) of Constantinople|Bartholomew I]]) fulfils this role. Historically, the [[pope|bishop of Rome]] was considered the first among equals of the [[pentarchy]]. The rising amount of power claimed by the pope, along with other factors, was the [[ecclesiology|ecclesiological]] reason for the [[Great Schism]]. After the Schism, however, the role of first among equals fell to the patriarch of Constantinople.
  
A number of books have been titled ''First among equals''.
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==Equivalents==
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On [[Mount Athos]], the head of civil administration, styled ''protos'' (first), is elected for a limited time to govern the civil aspects of the Holy Mountain.
  
==National governments==
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Some political examples include the Prime Minister of many Commonwealth nations, the President of the European Commission, and the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The term was also used by Roman Emperors as a means of reducing the appearance of dictatorship, particularly important during the early Roman Empire to appease those who may have longed for a return to the old Roman Republic.
===United Kingdom===
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{{Main|Prime Minister of the United Kingdom}}
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The phrase "Prime Minister" literally means "primary minister" or "first minister." As such, the Prime Ministers of many countries are traditionally considered to be "first among equals" - they are the [[chairman]] or "head" of a [[Cabinet]] rather than holding an office that is ''de jure'' superior to that of ministers. It is very debatable whether this description of the Prime Minister's role is accurate, however.
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The [[Prime Minister of the United Kingdom]] has frequently been referred to as "first among equals." In the [[United Kingdom|UK]], the executive is the Cabinet, and during [[House of Hanover|Hanoverian]] times a minister had the role of informing the monarch about proposed legislation in the House of Commons and other matters. In modern times, however, although the phrase is still used, it understates the powers of the Prime Minister, which now includes many broad, exclusive, executive powers over which cabinet members now have little influence.
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This also applies to religious figures outside of the Orthodox Church. The Dean of the College of Cardinals is considered to be the primus inter pares of this College in the [[Roman Catholic Church]].  In the [[Anglican Communion]], the [[Archbishop of Canterbury]] is often considered to be "first among equals". The [[Moderator of the General Assembly (Presbyterianism)|Moderator of the General Assembly]] in a [[Presbyterianism|Presbyterian church]] is similarly designated. The senior bishop of the seven [[diocese]]an bishops of the [[Scottish Episcopal Church]] bears the truncated title [[Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church|Primus]] from ''primus inter pares''.
 
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In 1984, author [[Jeffrey Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare|Jeffrey Archer]] wrote "First Among Equals," a popular novel about the careers and private lives of several men vying to become British Prime Minister. It was later adapted into a ten-part miniseries, produced by [[Granada Television]].
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===Switzerland===
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{{Main|President of the Swiss Confederation}}
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In Switzerland the seven-member [[Swiss Federal Council|Federal Council]] constitutes the government. Each year, the [[Federal Assembly of Switzerland|Federal Assembly]] elects a [[President of the Swiss Confederation|President of the Confederation]]. By convention, the positions of President and Vice President rotate annually, each Councillor thus becoming Vice President and then President every seven years while in office.
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The President is not the Swiss [[head of state]], but he or she is the highest-ranking Swiss official. He or she presides over Council meetings and carries out certain representative functions that, in other countries, are the business of the [[Head of State]]. In urgent situations where a Council decision cannot be made in time, her or she is empowered to act on behalf of the whole Council. Apart from that, though, he or she is a ''[[primus inter pares]]'', having no power above and beyond the other six Councillors.
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===Netherlands===
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{{Main|Prime Minister of the Netherlands}}
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The Prime Minister of the [[Netherlands]] is the [[chairman]] of the [[council of ministers]] and active executive authority of the [[Politics of the Netherlands|Dutch]] government. Although formally no special powers are assigned, the Prime Minister functions as the "face" of the [[cabinet of the Netherlands]]. Usually, the prime minister is also minister of [[General Affairs of the Netherlands|General Affairs]]. Until [[1945]], the position of head of the council of ministers officially switched between the ministers, although practices differed throughout history. In 1945, the position was formally instituted. The Prime Minister is the leader of the majority party or coalition in the lower house of parliament ([[Tweede Kamer]]), and is a member of the Council of Ministers.
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==Mayors of German city states==
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[[Mayor]]s of German [[city state]]s have traditionally acted as [[Primus inter pares]]. In [[Hamburg]], [[Lübeck]] and [[Bremen]], which had been [[Free Imperial Cities]] from the times of the [[Holy Roman Empire]], the government was called [[Senate]] and the mayor was one senator amongst many, often referred to as President of the Senate rather than Mayor. This ended in [[Lübeck]] with the [[Gesetz über Groß-Hamburg und andere Gebietsbereinigungen|incorporation into Prussia]] in [[1937]], while in a constitutional reform in [[1996]] the mayor of [[Hamburg]] was given broad powers to shape the politics of the senate, thus ending his status as primus inter pares. However, in the city state of [[Berlin]], which was created after WWII, the mayor has had a similar role.
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==Chairmen==
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In many other pseudo-parliamentary bodies, such as clubs, boards, and committees, the officer who holds the position of [[chairman]] is often regarded as a "first among equals." That is, while most [[rules of order]] will grant the chair special powers within the context of a [[meeting]], the position of chair is usually temporary, rotating, and powerless in other contexts, making the occupant merely a temporary leader required to instill order. This is the case for [[mayors]] under a [[council-manager government]], as the "mayor" has the same vote as all other council members and cannot override them, although their opinion may have more sway among other members.
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==Religion==
 
==Religion==
The phrase "first among equals" is also used by some to describe the role of the [[Patriarch of Constantinople]], who, as the ''Ecumenical Patriarch'', is considered the first among all the Patriarchs of the [[Eastern Orthodox Church]]es.  According to those views, the title does not mean that the holder has special authority over the other [[bishop]]s; rather, it is an acknowledgement of his historic significance.
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The phrase "first among equals" is also used by some to describe the role of the [[Patriarch of Constantinople]], who, as the ''Ecumenical Patriarch'', is considered the first among all the Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.  According to those views, the title does not mean that the holder has special authority over the other [[bishop]]s; rather, it is an acknowledgement of his historic significance.
 
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This is not the view of the [[Roman Catholic Church]], which considers the Pope to be [[Pope|Vicar of Christ]], successor of [[Saint Peter]], and leader of the bishops, [[Apostolic succession|successors]] of the [[Apostle]]s. Because of this, the Roman Catholic Church sees the Pope as holding an office senior to that of other bishops, rather than merely being the most senior bishop. This claim was one of the main causes of the [[East-West Schism]] in the Christian church, finalized in 1054.  However, the Dean of the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church is generally considered to be the first among equals in the College.
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In the [[Anglican Communion]], the [[Archbishop of Canterbury]] is often considered to be "first among equals". The [[Moderator of the General Assembly]] in a [[Presbyterianism|Presbyterian church]] is similarly designated. The senior bishop of the seven [[diocese]]an bishops of the [[Scottish Episcopal Church]] bears the truncated title [[Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church|Primus]] from ''primus inter pares''.
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In the [[Church of Sweden]], the [[Archbishop of Uppsala]] is considered primus inter pares.
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This is not the view of the [[Roman Catholic Church]], which considers the pope to be [[Pope|Vicar of Christ]], successor of [[Apostle Peter|Saint Peter]], and absolute leader of the bishops, [[Apostolic succession|successors]] of the [[Apostle]]s. Because of this, the Roman Catholic Church sees the pope as holding an office senior to that of other bishops, rather than merely being the most senior bishop. This claim was one of the main causes of the Great Schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church around 1054.
  
==Chief Justice of the United States==
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==See also==
The phrase "first among equals" has also been used to describe the [[Chief Justice of the United States]].  The Chief Justice has considerable administrative powers, and can assign the writing of decisions in cases in which he is in the majority, but has no direct control over the decisions of his colleagues on the [[United States Supreme Court]]. This situation is often true in most [[Supreme Court]]s around the world.
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*[[Church of Rome]]
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*[[Prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate]]
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*[[Primacy and Unity in Orthodox Ecclesiology]]
  
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==Source==
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* [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Primus_inter_pares&oldid=67646207 Wikipedia article]
  
[[Category:Latin political phrases]]
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[[Category:Ecclesiology]]
  
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Latest revision as of 09:07, November 18, 2012

Primus inter pares, or first among equals, is a Latin phrase indicating that a person is the most senior of a group of people sharing the same rank or office. Usually, the role is considered a necessary inclusion in a system in which all parties are equal.

In the Orthodox Church, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (currently His All-Holiness Bartholomew I) fulfils this role. Historically, the bishop of Rome was considered the first among equals of the pentarchy. The rising amount of power claimed by the pope, along with other factors, was the ecclesiological reason for the Great Schism. After the Schism, however, the role of first among equals fell to the patriarch of Constantinople.

Contents

Equivalents

On Mount Athos, the head of civil administration, styled protos (first), is elected for a limited time to govern the civil aspects of the Holy Mountain.

Some political examples include the Prime Minister of many Commonwealth nations, the President of the European Commission, and the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The term was also used by Roman Emperors as a means of reducing the appearance of dictatorship, particularly important during the early Roman Empire to appease those who may have longed for a return to the old Roman Republic.

This also applies to religious figures outside of the Orthodox Church. The Dean of the College of Cardinals is considered to be the primus inter pares of this College in the Roman Catholic Church. In the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury is often considered to be "first among equals". The Moderator of the General Assembly in a Presbyterian church is similarly designated. The senior bishop of the seven diocesean bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church bears the truncated title Primus from primus inter pares.

Religion

The phrase "first among equals" is also used by some to describe the role of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who, as the Ecumenical Patriarch, is considered the first among all the Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Churches. According to those views, the title does not mean that the holder has special authority over the other bishops; rather, it is an acknowledgement of his historic significance.

This is not the view of the Roman Catholic Church, which considers the pope to be Vicar of Christ, successor of Saint Peter, and absolute leader of the bishops, successors of the Apostles. Because of this, the Roman Catholic Church sees the pope as holding an office senior to that of other bishops, rather than merely being the most senior bishop. This claim was one of the main causes of the Great Schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church around 1054.

See also

Source

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