Constitutionally (de jure), the president's post carries significant responsibilities and influence. In practice, the president is largely a ceremonial and symbolic post due to external pressure (such as Syrian influence) or the formation of "consensus" cabinets, forcing the president to compromise. In theory, however, the president is responsible for appointing the entire government, therefore the ministers should work to his pleasure. Nevertheless, the president is still able to exercise influence on policymaking and has the role, in conjunction with the prime minister, of choosing ministers in the Government and safeguarding the constitution.
Though it is not specifically stated in the constitution, an unwritten understanding known as the National Pact, agreed in 1943, has resulted in the holder of the post being a Maronite Christian in every electoral cycle since that time. This agreement had to be suspended three times, when three Sunni Muslims, the Prime Ministers had to step in as Acting Presidents, Selim Hoss in 1988, Fouad Siniora in 2007 and Tammam Salam in 2014.