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A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, U ...
. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
,
executive Executive ( exe., exec., execu.) may refer to: Role or title * Executive, a senior management Senior management, executive management, upper management, or a management is generally individuals at the highest level of management of an organizat ...
, and
judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of courts that adjudication, adjudicates legal disputes/disagreements and interprets, defends, and app ...
. Government is a means by which organizational policies are enforced, as well as a mechanism for determining policy. In many countries, the government has a kind of
constitution A constitution is the aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who ...
, a statement of its governing principles and philosophy. While all types of organizations have
governance Governance is the process of interactions through the laws, norms, power or language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages ar ...
, the term ''government'' is often used more specifically to refer to the approximately 200 independent national governments and subsidiary organizations. The major types of
political systems In political science Political science is the science, scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of politics, political activities, political thought, political be ...
in the modern era are
democracies Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
,
monarchies A monarchy is a government#Forms, form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restric ...
, and
authoritarian Authoritarianism is a political system characterized by the rejection of political plurality, the use of strong central power to preserve the political ''status quo'', and reductions in the rule of law, separation of powers, and democratic votin ...
and
totalitarian Totalitarianism is a form of government and a political system that prohibits all opposition parties, outlaws individual and group opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high if not complete degree of control and reg ...
regimes. Historically prevalent forms of government include monarchy,
aristocracy Aristocracy (, ) is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class, the aristocracy (class), aristocrats. The term derives from the el, αριστοκρατία (), meaning 'rule of the best'. At t ...
,
timocracy A timocracy (from Greek τιμή ''timē'', "honor, worth" and -κρατία ''-kratia'', "rule") in Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath du ...
,
oligarchy Oligarchy (; ) is a conceptual form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may or may not be distinguished by one or several characteristics, such as nobility Nobility is a social class foun ...
, democracy,
theocracy Theocracy is a form of government in which one or more deity, deities are recognized as supreme ruling authorities, giving divine guidance to human intermediaries who manage the government's daily affairs. Etymology The word theocracy origina ...
, and
tyranny A tyrant (), in the modern English language, English usage of the word, is an autocracy, absolute ruler who is unrestrained by law, or one who has usurper, usurped a legitimate ruler's sovereignty. Often portrayed as cruel, tyrants may defen ...
. These forms are not always mutually exclusive, and
mixed government Mixed government (or a mixed constitution) is a form of government that combines elements of democracy, aristocracy and monarchy, ostensibly making impossible their respective degenerations which are conceived as anarchy, oligarchy and tyranny. T ...
s are common. The main aspect of any philosophy of government is how political power is obtained, with the two main forms being electoral contest and
hereditary succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals necessitated to hold a high office when it becomes vacated such as head of state or an honour such as a title of nobility.system A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundaries, structure and purpose and expres ...
to govern a
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, U ...
or community. The ''
Columbia Encyclopedia The ''Columbia Encyclopedia'' is a one-volume encyclopedia produced by Columbia University Press and, in the last edition, sold by the Gale Group. First published in 1935, and continuing its relationship with Columbia University, the encyclopedi ...
'' defines government as "a system of social control under which the right to make laws, and the right to enforce them, is vested in a particular group in society". While all types of organizations have
governance Governance is the process of interactions through the laws, norms, power or language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages ar ...
, the word ''government'' is often used more specifically to refer to the approximately 200 independent national governments on Earth, as well as their subsidiary organizations, such as state and provincial governments as well as
local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word government refers specifically to a level of administration that is both geographically-loca ...
s. The word ''government'' derives from the Greek verb [] meaning ''to steer'' with a Gubernaculum (classical), gubernaculum (rudder), the metaphorical sense being attested in the literature of classical antiquity, including
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
's Ship of State. In
British English British English (BrE, en-GB, or BE) is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, " English as used in Great Britain, as distinct from that used elsewhere". More narrowly, it can refer specifically to the English language in England, or, more broa ...
, "government" sometimes refers to what's also known as a " ministry" or an "
administration Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management, the act of directing people towards accomplishing a goal ** Administrative Assistant, traditionally known as a Secretary, or also known as an administrative officer, admini ...
", i.e., the policies and government officials of a particular executive or governing
coalition A coalition is a group formed when two or more people or groups temporarily work together to achieve a common goal. The term is most frequently used to denote a formation of power in political or economical spaces. Formation According to ''A Gui ...
. Finally, ''government'' is also sometimes used in English as a
synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme, or phrase In syntax and grammar, a phrase is a group of words or singular word acting as a grammatical unit. For instance, the English language, English expression "the very happy squirrel" is a noun phrase whi ...
for rule or governance.


History


Earliest governments

The moment and place that the phenomenon of human government developed is lost in time; however, history does record the formations of early governments. About 5,000 years ago, the first small city-states appeared. By the third to second millenniums BC, some of these had developed into larger governed areas:
Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of ...
,
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the ...
, the
Indus Valley civilization The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC), also known as the Indus Civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 Common Era, BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form 2600 B ...
, and the
Yellow River civilization FIle:Neolithic_stone_sickle%2C_Peiligang_Culture%2C_Jiaxian%2C_Henan%2C_1976.JPG, Stone sickle, Peiligang culture (7000–5000 BC) Yellow River civilization or Huanghe civilization (), Hwan‐huou civilization is an ancient Chinese civilization ...
. The development of agriculture and water control projects were a catalyst for the development of governments.The New Encyclopædia Britannica (15th edition) On occasion a chief of a tribe was elected by various rituals or tests of strength to govern his tribe, sometimes with a group of elder tribesmen as a council. The human ability to precisely communicate abstract, learned information allowed humans to become ever more effective at agriculture, and that allowed for ever increasing population densities. David Christian explains how this resulted in states with laws and governments.


Modern governments

Starting at the end of the 17th century, the prevalence of republican forms of government grew. The
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists led by Charles I ("Cavaliers"), mainly over the manner of Kingdom of England, England's governanc ...
and
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus , also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or ''Glorious Crossing'' in the Netherlands, is the sequence of events leading to the deposition of King James II and ...
in England, the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution that occurred in British America between 1765 and 1791. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies formed independent states that defeated the British in the American Revolut ...
, and the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, ...
contributed to the growth of representative forms of government. The
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
was the first large country to have a
Communist Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around ...
government. Since the fall of the
Berlin Wall The Berlin Wall (german: Berliner Mauer, ) was a guarded concrete barrier that encircled West Berlin from 1961 to 1989, separating it from East Berlin and East Germany (GDR). Construction of the Berlin Wall was commenced by the govern ...
,
liberal democracy Liberal democracy is the combination of a liberalism, liberal political ideology that operates under an representative democracy, indirect democratic form of government. It is characterized by elections between Pluralism (political philosophy), ...
has become an even more prevalent form of government. In the nineteenth and twentieth century, there was a significant increase in the size and scale of government at the national level. This included the regulation of corporations and the development of the
welfare state A welfare state is a form of government in which the state (or a well-established network of social institutions) protects and promotes the economic and social well-being of its citizens, based upon the principles of equal opportunity Equa ...
.


Political science


Classification

In political science, it has long been a goal to create a typology or taxonomy of
polities A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relations, and have a capacity to mobilize ...
, as typologies of political systems are not obvious. It is especially important in the
political science Political science is the science, scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of politics, political activities, political thought, political behavior, and associated c ...
fields of
comparative politics Comparative politics is a field in political science characterized either by the use of the ''Mill's Methods, comparative method'' or other empirical methods to explore politics both within and between countries. Substantively, this can include q ...
and
international relations International relations (IR), sometimes referred to as international studies and international affairs, is the Scientific method, scientific study of interactions between sovereign states. In a broader sense, it concerns all activities betwe ...
. Like all categories discerned within forms of government, the boundaries of government classifications are either fluid or ill-defined. Superficially, all governments have an official or ideal form. The United States is a constitutional republic, while the former Soviet Union was a
socialist republic Socialism is a left-wing Economic ideology, economic philosophy and Political movement, movement encompassing a range of economic systems characterized by the dominance of social ownership of the means of production as opposed to Private prop ...
. However self-identification is not objective, and as Kopstein and Lichbach argue, defining regimes can be tricky. For example,
Voltaire François-Marie Arouet (; 21 November 169430 May 1778) was a French Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher. Known by his ''Pen name, nom de plume'' M. de Voltaire (; also ; ), he was famous for his wit, and his ...
argued that "the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire was a Polity, political entity in Western Europe, Western, Central Europe, Central, and Southern Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, dissolution i ...
is neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire". Identifying a form of government is also difficult because many
political systems In political science Political science is the science, scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of politics, political activities, political thought, political be ...
originate as socio-economic movements and are then carried into governments by parties naming themselves after those movements; all with competing political-ideologies. Experience with those movements in power, and the strong ties they may have to particular forms of government, can cause them to be considered as forms of government in themselves. Other complications include general non-consensus or deliberate " distortion or bias" of reasonable technical definitions to political ideologies and associated forms of governing, due to the nature of politics in the modern era. For example: The meaning of "conservatism" in the United States has little in common with the way the word's definition is used elsewhere. As Ribuffo notes, "what Americans now call conservatism much of the world calls liberalism or
neoliberalism Neoliberalism (also neo-liberalism) is a term used to signify the late 20th century political reappearance of 19th-century ideas associated with free-market capitalism after it fell into decline following the Second World War. A prominent fa ...
"; a "conservative" in Finland would be labeled a "
socialist Socialism is a left-wing Economic ideology, economic philosophy and Political movement, movement encompassing a range of economic systems characterized by the dominance of social ownership of the means of production as opposed to Private prop ...
" in the United States. Since the 1950s conservatism in the United States has been chiefly associated with the Republican Party. However, during the era of
segregation Segregation may refer to: Separation of people * Geographical segregation, rates of two or more populations which are not homogenous throughout a defined space * School segregation * Housing segregation * Racial segregation, separation of humans ...
many
Southern Democrats Southern Democrats, historically sometimes known colloquially as Dixiecrats, are members of the U.S. Democratic Party who reside in the Southern United States The Southern United States (sometimes Dixie, also referred to as the Southern S ...
were conservatives, and they played a key role in the
conservative coalition The conservative coalition, founded in 1937, was an unofficial alliance of members of the United States Congress which brought together the Conservatism in the United States, conservative wings of the History of the Republican Party (United Stat ...
that controlled Congress from 1937 to 1963.


Social-political ambiguity

Opinions vary by individuals concerning the types and properties of governments that exist. "Shades of gray" are commonplace in any government and its corresponding classification. Even the most liberal democracies limit rival political activity to one extent or another while the most tyrannical dictatorships must organize a broad base of support thereby creating difficulties for " pigeonholing" governments into narrow categories. Examples include the claims of the United States as being a plutocracy rather than a democracy since some American voters believe elections are being manipulated by wealthy Super PACs.


Forms

Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
in his book '' The Republic'' divided governments into five basic types (four being existing forms and one being Plato's ideal form, which exists "only in speech"): *
Aristocracy Aristocracy (, ) is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class, the aristocracy (class), aristocrats. The term derives from the el, αριστοκρατία (), meaning 'rule of the best'. At t ...
(rule by law and order, like ideal traditional “benevolent” kingdoms that aren’t tyrannical) *
Timocracy A timocracy (from Greek τιμή ''timē'', "honor, worth" and -κρατία ''-kratia'', "rule") in Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath du ...
(rule by honor and duty, like a “benevolent” military; Sparta as an example) *
Oligarchy Oligarchy (; ) is a conceptual form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may or may not be distinguished by one or several characteristics, such as nobility Nobility is a social class foun ...
(rule by wealth and market-based-ethics, like a free-trading capitalist state) *
Democracy Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
(rule by pure liberty and equality, like a free citizen) *
Tyranny A tyrant (), in the modern English language, English usage of the word, is an autocracy, absolute ruler who is unrestrained by law, or one who has usurper, usurped a legitimate ruler's sovereignty. Often portrayed as cruel, tyrants may defen ...
(rule by fear, like a despot) These five regimes progressively degenerate starting with aristocracy at the top and tyranny at the bottom. In his ''
Politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of res ...
'', Aristotle elaborates on Plato's five regimes discussing them in relation to the government of one, of the few, and of the many. From this follows the classification of forms of government according to which people have the authority to rule: either one person (an
autocracy Autocracy is a system of government in which absolute power over a state is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject neither to external legal restraints nor to regularized mechanisms of popular control (except pe ...
, such as monarchy), a select group of people (an aristocracy), or the people as a whole (a democracy, such as a republic).
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; 5/15 April 1588 – 4/14 December 1679) was an English people, English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book ''Leviathan (Hobbes book), Levi ...
stated on their classification:


Basic political systems

According to
Yale Yale University is a Private university, private research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Established in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the List of Colonial Colleges, third-oldest institution of higher education in the United Sta ...
professor Juan José Linz there a three main types of
political systems In political science Political science is the science, scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of politics, political activities, political thought, political be ...
today:
democracies Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
,
totalitarian regimes Totalitarianism is a form of government and a political system that prohibits all opposition parties, outlaws individual and group opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high if not complete degree of control and regul ...
and, sitting between these two,
authoritarian regimes Authoritarianism is a political system characterized by the rejection of political plurality, the use of strong central power to preserve the political ''status quo'', and reductions in the rule of law, separation of powers, and democratic votin ...
with
hybrid regimes A hybrid regime is a mixed type of political system often created as a result of an incomplete Democratic transition, transition from an authoritarian regime to a Democracy, democratic one (or vice versa). Hybrid regimes are categorized as combin ...
. Another modern classification system includes
monarchies A monarchy is a government#Forms, form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restric ...
as a standalone entity or as a hybrid system of the main three. Scholars generally refer to a
dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government which is characterized by a leader, or a group of leaders, which holds governmental powers with few to no Limited government, limitations on them. The leader of a dictatorship is called a dictator. Politics i ...
as either a form of authoritarianism or totalitarianism.


Autocracy

An autocracy is a system of government in which supreme
power Power most often refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. In the International System of Units, the unit of power is the watt, equal to one joule per second. In older work ...
is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of a
coup d'état A coup d'état (; French for 'stroke of state'), also known as a coup or overthrow, is a seizure and removal of a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In ...
or mass
insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an established authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is a social science that focuses on society, ...
).
Absolute monarchy Absolute monarchy (or Absolutism as a doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch rules in their own right or power. In an absolute monarchy, the king or queen is by no means limited and has absolute power, though a limited constitut ...
is a historically prevalent form of autocracy, wherein a
monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of state of a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority ...
governs as a singular
sovereign ''Sovereign'' is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French , which is ultimately derived from the Latin , meaning 'above'. The roles of a sovereign vary from monarch, ruler or ...
with no limitation on
royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in Civil law (legal system), civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy, as belonging to the monarch, sovereign and whic ...
. Most absolute monarchies are
hereditary Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction Asexual reproduction is a type of reproduction that does not involve the fusion ...
, however some, notably the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome, Petrine See or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Pope in his role as the bishop of Rome. It includes the apostolic see, apostolic episcopal see of the ...
, are
elected Elected may refer to: *Elected (song), "Elected" (song), by Alice Cooper, 1973 *Elected (EP), ''Elected'' (EP), by Ayreon, 2008 *The Elected, an American indie rock band See also

*Election {{disambiguation ...
by an electoral college (such as the
college of cardinals The College of Cardinals, or more formally the Sacred College of Cardinals, is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by ...
, or
prince-elector The prince-electors (german: Kurfürst pl. , cz, Kurfiřt, la, Princeps Elector), or electors for short, were the members of the electoral college that elected the Holy Roman Emperor, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. From the 13th century ...
s). Other forms of autocracy include
tyranny A tyrant (), in the modern English language, English usage of the word, is an autocracy, absolute ruler who is unrestrained by law, or one who has usurper, usurped a legitimate ruler's sovereignty. Often portrayed as cruel, tyrants may defen ...
,
despotism Despotism ( el, Δεσποτισμός, ''despotismós'') is a government, form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. Normally, that entity is an individual, the despot; but (as in an autocracy) societies which limit ...
, and
dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government which is characterized by a leader, or a group of leaders, which holds governmental powers with few to no Limited government, limitations on them. The leader of a dictatorship is called a dictator. Politics i ...
.


Aristocracy

Aristocracy , from "excellent", and "
power Power most often refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. In the International System of Units, the unit of power is the watt, equal to one joule per second. In older work ...
". is a form of government that places power in the hands of a small,
elite In political theory, political and sociology, sociological theory, the elite (french: élite, from la, eligere, to select or to sort out) are a small group of powerful people who hold a economic inequality, disproportionate amount of wealth, pr ...
ruling class In sociology, the ruling class of a society is the social class who set and decide the political and economic agenda of society. In Marxist philosophy, the ruling class are the capitalist social class who own the means of production and by exten ...
, such as a hereditary
nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), aristocracy. It is normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm with many e ...
or privileged
caste Caste is a form of social stratification characterised by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life which often includes an occupation, ritual status in a hierarchy, and customary social interaction and exclusion based on cultural ...
. This class exercises minority rule, often as a landed
timocracy A timocracy (from Greek τιμή ''timē'', "honor, worth" and -κρατία ''-kratia'', "rule") in Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath du ...
, wealthy
plutocracy A plutocracy () or plutarchy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income. The first known use of the term in English dates from 1631. Unlike most political systems, plutocracy is not rooted in any established ...
, or
oligarchy Oligarchy (; ) is a conceptual form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may or may not be distinguished by one or several characteristics, such as nobility Nobility is a social class foun ...
. Many monarchies were aristocracies, although in modern constitutional monarchies the monarch may have little effective power. The term ''aristocracy'' could also refer to the non-
peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial farmworker, agricultural laborer or a farmer with limited land-ownership, especially one living in the Middle Ages under feudalism and tenant farmer, paying rent, tax, fees, or services to a landlord. In Europe, ...
, non-servant, and non-
city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be def ...
classes in the
feudal system Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, cultural and political customs that flourished in Middle Ages, medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a wa ...
.


Democracy

Democracy is a system of government where
citizen Citizenship is a "relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection". Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and ...
s exercise power by
voting Voting is a method by which a group, such as a meeting or an Constituency, electorate, can engage for the purpose of making a collective decision making, decision or expressing an opinion usually following discussions, debates or election camp ...
and
deliberation Deliberation is a process of thoughtfully weighing options, usually prior to voting. Deliberation emphasizes the use of logic and reason as opposed to power-struggle, creativity, or dialogue. Group decision-making, Group decisions are generally m ...
. In a
direct democracy Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which the Election#Electorate, electorate decides on policy initiatives without legislator, elected representatives as proxies. This differs from the majority of currently establishe ...
, the citizenry as a whole directly forms a
participatory Citizen Participation or Public Participation in social science refers to different mechanisms for the Public consultation, public to express opinions—and ideally exert influence—regarding political, economic, management or other social dec ...
governing body and vote directly on each issue. In indirect democracy, the citizenry governs indirectly through the selection of representatives or delegates from among themselves, typically by
election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative ...
or, less commonly, by
sortition In governance, sortition (also known as selection by lottery, selection by lot, allotment, demarchy, stochocracy, aleatoric democracy, democratic lottery, and lottocracy) is the selection of political officer, officials as a random sample from ...
. These select citizens then meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature or
jury A jury is a sworn body of people (jurors) convened to hear evidence and render an impartiality, impartial verdict (a Question of fact, finding of fact on a question) officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a sentence (law), penalty o ...
. Some governments combine both direct and indirect democratic governance, wherein the citizenry selects representatives to administer day-to-day governance, while also reserving the right govern directly through
popular initiative In political science, an initiative (also known as a popular initiative or citizens' initiative) is a means by which a petition signed by a certain number of Voter registration, registered voters can force a government to choose either to enac ...
s,
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a Direct democracy, direct vote by the Constituency, electorate on a proposal, law, or political issue. This is in contrast to an issue being voted on by a Representative democr ...
s (plebiscites), and the right of recall. In a
constitutional democracy Liberal democracy is the combination of a liberal political ideology An ideology is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group of persons, especially those held for reasons that are not purely epistemic, in which "pract ...
the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits
majority rule Majority rule is a principle that means the decision-making power belongs to the group that has the most members. In politics, majority rule requires the deciding vote to have majority, that is, more than half the votes. It is the binary deci ...
, usually through the provision by all of certain universal rights, e.g.
freedom of speech Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. The rights, right to freedom of expression has been ...
, or
freedom of association Freedom of association encompasses both an individual's right to join or leave groups voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of its members, and the right of an club (organization), association to ac ...
.''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the first and foundational historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a com ...
'': "democracy".


Republics

A republic is a form of government in which the country is considered a "public matter" ( la, res publica), not the private concern or property of the rulers, and where offices of states are subsequently directly or indirectly elected or appointed rather than inherited. The people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. A common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of state is not a monarch.
Montesquieu Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, Lot-et-Garonne, Montesquieu (; ; 18 January 168910 February 1755), generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French judge, intellectual, man of letters, historian, and p ...
included both
democracies Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
, where all the people have a share in rule, and
aristocracies Aristocracy (, ) is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legisl ...
or
oligarchies Oligarchy (; ) is a conceptual form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may or may not be distinguished by one or several characteristics, such as nobility, fame, wealth, education, or corporate ...
, where only some of the people rule, as republican forms of government. Other terms used to describe different republics include
democratic republic A democratic republic is a form of government operating on principles adopted from a republic and a democracy. As a cross between two exceedingly similar systems, democratic republics may function on principles shared by both republics and democrac ...
,
parliamentary republic A parliamentary republic is a republic that operates under a parliamentary system of government where the Executive (government), executive branch (the government) derives its legitimacy from and is accountable to the legislature (the parliame ...
,
semi-presidential republic A semi-presidential republic, is a republic in which a President (government title), president exists alongside a prime minister and a Cabinet (government), cabinet, with the latter two being responsible to the legislature of the State (polity ...
,
presidential republic A presidential system, or single executive system, is a form of government in which a head of government, typically with the title of President (government title), president, leads an Executive (government), executive branch that is separate from ...
,
federal republic A federal republic is a federation of Federated state, states with a republican form of government. At its core, the literal meaning of the word republic when used to reference a form of government means: "a country that is governed by elected r ...
,
people's republic People's republic is an official title, usually used by some currently or formerly communist or left-wing states. It is mainly associated with Soviet republic (system of government), soviet republics, socialist states following People's democracy ...
, and
Islamic republic The term Islamic republic has been used in different ways. Some Muslim religious leaders have used it as the name for a theoretical form of Islamic theocratic government enforcing sharia, or laws compatible with sharia. The term has also been u ...
.


Federalism

Federalism is a political concept in which a ''group'' of members are bound together by
covenant Covenant may refer to: Religion * Covenant (religion), a formal alliance or agreement made by God with a religious community or with humanity in general ** Covenant (biblical), in the Hebrew Bible ** Covenant in Mormonism, a sacred agreement ...
with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of government in which
sovereignty Sovereignty is the defining authority within individual consciousness, Social constructionism, social construct, or territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty i ...
is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units, variously called states, provinces or otherwise. Federalism is a system based upon democratic principles and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments, creating what is often called a
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (federalism). In a federation, the self-govern ...
. Proponents are often called
federalist The term ''federalist'' describes several political beliefs around the world. It may also refer to the concept of parties, whose members or supporters called themselves ''Federalists''. History Europe federation In Europe, proponents of Fed ...
s.


Branches

Governments are typically organised into distinct institutions constituting branches of government each with particular
power Power most often refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. In the International System of Units, the unit of power is the watt, equal to one joule per second. In older work ...
s, functions, duties, and responsibilities. The distribution of powers between these institutions differs between governments, as do the functions and number of branches. An independent, parallel distribution of powers between branches of government is the
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflic ...
. A shared, intersecting, or overlapping distribution of powers is the
fusion of powers Fusion of powers is a feature of some parliamentary system, parliamentary forms of government where different branches of government are intermingled, typically the Executive (government), executive and Legislature, legislative branches. It is co ...
. Governments are often organised into three branches with separate powers: a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary; this is sometimes called the model. However, in
parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws, and overseeing ...
ary and
semi-presidential system A semi-presidential republic, is a republic in which a President (government title), president exists alongside a prime minister and a Cabinet (government), cabinet, with the latter two being responsible to the legislature of the State (polity ...
s, branches of government often intersect, having shared membership and overlapping functions. Many governments have fewer or additional branches, such as an independent
electoral commission An election commission is a body charged with overseeing the implementation of electioneering process of any country. The formal names of election commissions vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and may be styled an electoral commission, a c ...
or auditory branch.


Party system

Presently, most governments are administered by members of an explicitly constituted
political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific political ideology ...
which coordinates the activities of associated government
official An official is someone who holds an office (function or Mandate (politics), mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual Office, working space with it) in an organization or government and participates in the exercise of authority, (either th ...
s and
candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective recipient of an award or honor, or a person seeking or being considered for some kind of position; for example: * to be election, elected to an official, office — in this case a Preselection, candida ...
s for office. In a multiparty system of government, multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government offices, typically by competing in
election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative ...
s, although the
effective number of parties The effective number of parties is a concept introduced by Laakso and Taagepera (1979) which provides for an adjusted number of political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular coun ...
may be limited. A
majority government A majority government is a government by one or more Ruling party, governing parties that hold an absolute majority of seats in a legislature. This is as opposed to a minority government, where the largest party in a legislature only has a Plurali ...
is a government by one or more governing parties together holding an absolute majority of seats in the parliament, in contrast to a
minority government A minority government, minority cabinet, minority administration, or a minority parliament is a government and cabinet formed in a parliamentary system when a political party or coalition of parties does not have a majority of overall seats ...
in which they have only a plurality of seats and often depend on a
confidence and supply In a parliamentary system, parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster system, confidence and supply are required for a ruling party, ruling cabinet to retain power in the lower house. A confidence-and-supply agreement is one whereby a pa ...
arrangement with other parties. A
coalition government A coalition government is a form of government in which political parties cooperate to form a government. The usual reason for such an arrangement is that no single party has achieved an absolute majority after an election, an atypical outcome in ...
is one in which multiple parties cooperate to form a government as part of a
coalition agreement A coalition government is a form of government in which political parties cooperate to form a government. The usual reason for such an arrangement is that no single party has achieved an absolute majority after an election An election i ...
. In a single-party government a single party forms a government without the support of a coalition, as is typically the case with majority governments, but even a minority government may consist of just one party unable to find a willing coalition partner at the moment. A party which continuously maintains a single-party government within a (nominally) multiparty system constitutes a
dominant-party system A dominant-party system, or one-party dominant system, is a political occurrence in which a single political party continuously dominates election results over running Opposition (politics), opposition groups or parties. Any ruling party stayi ...
. In a (nondemocratic)
one party system A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of sovereign state A sovereign state or sovereign country, is a polity, political entity represented by one central government that has supreme legi ...
a single
ruling party The ruling party or governing party in a democracy, democratic parliamentary system, parliamentary or presidential system is the political party or coalition holding a majority of elected positions in a parliament, in the case of parliamentary s ...
has the (more or less) exclusive right to form the government, and the formation of other parties may be obstructed or illegal. In some cases, a government may have a non-partisan system, as is the case with
absolute monarchy Absolute monarchy (or Absolutism as a doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch rules in their own right or power. In an absolute monarchy, the king or queen is by no means limited and has absolute power, though a limited constitut ...
or
non-partisan democracy Nonpartisan democracy (also no-party democracy) is a system of Representative democracy, representative government or organization such that universal and periodic elections take place without reference to political party, political parties. S ...
.


Maps

Democracy is the most popular form of government with more than half of the nations in the world being democracies-97 of 167 nations as of 2021. However the world is becoming more authoritarian with a quarter of the world's population under democratically backsliding governments.The Global State of Democracy 2021
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance


See also


Notes


References


Bibliography

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Further reading

* * * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Government, Forms of Political terminology Main topic articles