A GOVERNMENT is the system or group of people governing an organized
community, often a state . In the case of its broad associative
definition, government normally consists of legislature , executive ,
and judiciary .
While all types of organizations have governance, the word government
is often used more specifically to refer to the approximately 200
independent national governments on
Historically prevalent forms of government include aristocracy , timocracy , oligarchy , democracy and tyranny .
* 1 Definitions and etymology * 2 History
* 3.1 Classifying government * 3.2 Social-political ambiguity * 3.3 The dialectical forms of government
* 4 Forms of government
* 4.3.1 Republics
* 5 Scope of government
* 5.1 Federalism
* 6 Economic systems * 7 Maps
* 8 See also
* 8.1 Principles * 8.2 Autonomy
* 9 References * 10 Bibliography * 11 Further reading * 12 External links
DEFINITIONS AND ETYMOLOGY
A GOVERNMENT is the system to govern a state or community.
The Columbia Encyclopedia 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, the word government
is often used more specifically to refer to the approximately 200
independent national governments on
Commonwealth of Nations
Finally, government is also sometimes used in English as a synonym for governance .
Main articles: Political history of the world and Political philosophy
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 , Ancient Egypt
Indus Valley Civilization
The development of agriculture and water control projects were a catalyst for the development of governments. For many thousands of years when people were hunter-gatherers and small scale farmers, humans lived in small, non-hierarchical and self-sufficient communities. 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:
As farming populations gathered in larger and denser communities, interactions between different groups increased and the social pressure rose until, in a striking parallel with star formation, new structures suddenly appeared, together with a new level of complexity. Like stars, cities and states reorganize and energize the smaller objects within their gravitational field. — David Christian, p. 245, Maps of Time
Starting at the end of the
17th century , the prevalence of
republican forms of government grew. The
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 .
In political science, it has long been a goal to create a typology or taxonomy of polities , as typologies of political systems are not obvious. It is especially important in the political science fields of comparative politics and international relations . 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 form. The United
States is a constitutional republic , while the former Soviet Union
was a socialist republic . However self-identification is not
objective, and as Kopstein and Lichbach argue, defining regimes can be
tricky. For example, elections are a defining characteristic of an
electoral democracy, but in practice elections in the former Soviet
Union were not "free and fair" and took place in a one-party state .
Identifying a form of government is also difficult because a large number of political systems originate as socio-economic movements and are then carried into governments by specific 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
Every country in the world is ruled by a system of governance that
combines at least three or more political or economic attributes.
Additionally, 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
THE DIALECTICAL FORMS OF GOVERNMENT
Main article: Plato\'s five regimes
The Classical Greek philosopher
FORMS OF GOVERNMENT
For a more comprehensive list, see List of forms of government .
One method of classifying governments is through which people have the authority to rule. This can either be one person (an autocracy, such as monarchy), a select group of people (an aristocracy), or the people as a whole (a democracy, such as a republic).
The division of governments as monarchy, aristocracy and democracy
has been used since Aristotle's
The difference of Commonwealths consisteth in the difference of the
sovereign, or the person representative of all and every one of the
multitude. And because the sovereignty is either in one man, or in an
assembly of more than one; and into that assembly either every man
hath right to enter, or not every one, but certain men distinguished
from the rest; it is manifest there can be but three kinds of
Commonwealth. For the representative must needs be one man, or more;
and if more, then it is the assembly of all, or but of a part. When
the representative is one man, then is the
An autocracy is a system of government in which supreme power 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 or mass insurrection ).
A despotism is a government ruled by a single entity with absolute power, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regular mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for implicit threat). That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy , or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy . The word despotism means to "rule in the fashion of despots".
A monarchy is where a family or group of families (rarely another type of group), called the royalty, represents national identity, with power traditionally assigned to one of its individuals, called the monarch, who mostly rule kingdoms. The actual role of the monarch and other members of royalty varies from purely symbolical (crowned republic ) to partial and restricted (constitutional monarchy ) to completely despotic (absolute monarchy ). Traditionally and in most cases, the post of the monarch is inherited , but there are also elective monarchies where the monarch is elected.
ARISTOCRACY (Greek ἀριστοκρατία aristokratía, from ἄριστος aristos "excellent", and κράτος kratos "power ") is a form of government that places power in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class .
An oligarchy is ruled by a small group of segregated, powerful or influential people who usually share similar interests or family relations. These people may spread power and elect candidates equally or not equally. An oligarchy is different from a true democracy because very few people are given the chance to change things. An oligarchy does not have to be hereditary or monarchic. An oligarchy does not have one clear ruler but several rulers.
Some historical examples of oligarchy are the former Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics . Some critics of representative democracy think
A theocracy is rule by a religious elite; a system of governance
composed of religious institutions in which the state and the church
are traditionally or constitutionally the same entity. The Vatican 's
In a general sense, in a democracy , all the people of a state or polity are involved in making decisions about its affairs. Also refer to the rule by a government chosen by election where most of the populace are enfranchised. The key distinction between a democracy and other forms of constitutional government is usually taken to be that the right to vote is not limited by a person's wealth or race (the main qualification for enfranchisement is usually having reached a certain age). A democratic government is, therefore, one supported (at least at the time of the election) by a majority of the populace (provided the election was held fairly). A "majority" may be defined in different ways. There are many "power-sharing" (usually in countries where people mainly identify themselves by race or religion) or "electoral-college" or "constituency" systems where the government is not chosen by a simple one-vote-per-person headcount.
In democracies, large proportions of the population may vote, either to make decisions or to choose representatives to make decisions. Commonly significant in democracies are political parties, which are groups of people with similar ideas about how a country or region should be governed. Different political parties have different ideas about how the government should handle different problems.
Liberal democracy is a variant of democracy. It is a form of
government in which representative democracy operates under the
principles of liberalism . It is characterised by fair, free, and
competitive elections between multiple distinct political parties , a
separation of powers into different branches of government , the rule
of law in everyday life as part of an open society , and the
protection of human rights and civil liberties for all persons. To
define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a
constitution , either formally written or uncodified , to delineate
the powers of government and enshrine the social contract . After a
period of sustained expansion throughout the 20th century, liberal
democracy became the predominant political system in the world. A
liberal democracy may take various constitutional forms: it may be a
republic , such as
A republic is a form of government in which the country is considered a "public matter" (Latin: 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 included both democracies , where all the people have a share in rule, and aristocracies or oligarchies , where only some of the people rule, as republican forms of government.
SCOPE OF GOVERNMENT
Rule by authoritarian governments is identified in societies where a specific set of people possess the authority of the state in a republic or union. It is a political system controlled by unelected rulers who usually permit some degree of individual freedom . Rule by a totalitarian government is characterised by a highly centralised and coercive authority that regulates nearly every aspect of public and private life.
In contrast, a constitutional republic is rule by a government whose
powers are limited by law or a formal constitution, and chosen by a
vote amongst at least some sections of the populace (Ancient Sparta
was in its own terms a republic, though most inhabitants were
disenfranchised). Republics that exclude sections of the populace from
participation will typically claim to represent all citizens (by
defining people without the vote as "non-citizens"). Examples include
THIS SECTION NEEDS EXPANSION. You can help by adding to it . (January 2013)
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant (Latin: foedus, covenant) with a governing representative head . The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (such as states or provinces). Federalism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments, creating what is often called a federation . Proponents are often called federalists .
Historically, most political systems originated as socioeconomic 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.
Distributism A social-economic system in which widespread property ownership as fundamental right; the means of production are spread as widely as possible rather than being centralized under the control of the state (state socialism ), a few individuals (plutocracy ), or corporations (corporatocracy ). Distributism fundamentally opposes socialism and capitalism , which distributists view as equally flawed and exploitative. In contrast, distributism seeks to subordinate economic activity to human life as a whole, to our spiritual life, our intellectual life, our family life".
Statism A social-economic system that concentrates power in the state at the expense of individual freedom. Among other variants, the term subsumes theocracy, absolute monarchy, Nazism, fascism, authoritarian socialism, and plain, unadorned dictatorship. Such variants differ on matters of form, tactics and ideology.
Welfare state A social-economic system in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity , equitable distribution of wealth , and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life.
States by their systems of government. For the complete list of
systems by country, see
List of countries by system of government .
presidential republics semi-presidential republics
parliamentary republics parliamentary republics , an executive
presidency elected by and dependent on parliament parliamentary
constitutional monarchies in which the monarch does not personally
exercise power constitutional monarchies in which the monarch
personally exercises power, often alongside a weak parliament
absolute monarchies republics whose constitutions grant only one
party the right to govern republics where constitutional provisions
for government have been suspended states that do not fit in any of
the above listed systems no government
FULL DEMOCRACIES 9–10 8–9 FLAWED DEMOCRACIES 7–8 6–7 HYBRID REGIMES 5–6 4–5 AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES 3–4 2–3 1–2 Not determined
World administrative levels A world map distinguishing countries of the world as federations (GREEN) from unitary states (BLUE). ------------------------- Unitary states Federations
List of forms of government
* History of politics
List of countries by system of government
List of European Union member states by political system
Certain major characteristics are defining of certain types; others are historically associated with certain types of government.
* Rule according to higher law (unwritten ethical principles) vs. written constitutionalism * Separation of church and state or free church vs. state religion * Civilian control of the military vs. stratocracy * Totalitarianism or authoritarianism vs. libertarianism * Majority rule or parliamentary sovereignty vs. constitution or bill of rights with separation of powers and supermajority rules to prevent tyranny of the majority and protect minority rights * Androcracy (patriarchy ) or gynarchy (matriarchy ) vs. gender quotas , gender equality provision, or silence on the matter
This list focuses on differing approaches that political systems take to the distribution of sovereignty , and the autonomy of regions within the state.
* Sovereignty located exclusively at the centre of political jurisdiction.
* Sovereignty located at the centre and in peripheral areas.
* Diverging degrees of sovereignty.
* Corpus separatum
* Unrecognized state
* Territorial disputes
* Non-self-governing territories
League of Nations
* ^ "government". Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University
Press. November 2010.
* ^ A B C International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral
Sciences. Elsevier. 2001. ISBN 0-08-043076-7 .
* ^ "government".
* American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). 222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-82517-2
* Krader, Lawrence (1968). Formation of the State, in Foundations of
Modern Anthropology Series. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. x,
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and
Alastair Smith (2011). The Dictator's
Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics. Random
House . p. 272. ISBN 9781610390446 .
Look up GOVERNMENT in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.