Government

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World's states colored by form of government
Map legend
Full presidential republics
Semi-presidential republics
Republics with an executive president elected by or nominated by the legislature that may or may not be subject to parliamentary confidence
Parliamentary republics
Parliamentary constitutional monarchies where royalty does not hold significant power
Parliamentary constitutional monarchies which have a separate head of government but where royalty holds significant executive and/or legislative power
Absolute monarchies
One-party states
Countries where constitutional provisions for government have been suspended (e.g. military juntas)
Countries that do not fit any of the above systems (e.g. provisional governments/unclear political situations)
No government
This map was compiled according to the Wikipedia list of countries by system of government. See there for sources.
This map presents only the de jure form of government, and not the de facto degree of democracy.
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World's states colored by form of government

A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state.

Contents

In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. 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 statement of its governing principles and philosophy.

While all types of organizations have governance, 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 the modern era are democracies, monarchies, and authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. [1] Historically prevalent forms of government include monarchy, aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, theocracy, and tyranny. These forms are not always mutually exclusive, and mixed governments 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.

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". [2] 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 Earth, as well as their subsidiary organizations, such as state and provincial governments as well as local governments. [3]

The word government derives from the Greek verb κυβερνάω [kubernáo] meaning to steer with a gubernaculum (rudder), the metaphorical sense being attested in the literature of classical antiquity, including Plato's Ship of State. [4] In British English, "government" sometimes refers to what's also known as a "ministry" or an "administration", i.e., the policies and government officials of a particular executive or governing coalition. Finally, government is also sometimes used in English as a synonym for rule or governance. [5]

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. [6] By the third to second millenniums BC, some of these had developed into larger governed areas: Sumer, ancient Egypt, the Indus Valley civilization, and the Yellow River civilization. [7]

The development of agriculture and water control projects were a catalyst for the development of governments. [8] 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, [9] and that allowed for ever increasing population densities. [6] 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. [6]

Modern governments

Starting at the end of the 17th century, the prevalence of republican forms of government grew. The English Civil War and Glorious Revolution in England, the American Revolution, and the French Revolution contributed to the growth of representative forms of government. The Soviet Union was the first large country to have a Communist government. [3] Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, liberal democracy has become an even more prevalent form of government. [10]

In the nineteenth and twentieth century, there was a significant increase in the size and scale of government at the national level. [11] This included the regulation of corporations and the development of the welfare state. [10]

Political science

Classification

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. [12] 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 or ideal 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. [13] For example, Voltaire argued that "the Holy Roman Empire is neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire". [14]

Identifying a form of government is also difficult because many political systems 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"; a "conservative" in Finland would be labeled a "socialist" in the United States. [15] Since the 1950s conservatism in the United States has been chiefly associated with the Republican Party. However, during the era of segregation many Southern Democrats were conservatives, and they played a key role in the conservative coalition that controlled Congress from 1937 to 1963. [16] [lower-alpha 1]

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. [17]

Forms

Plato 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"): [18]

These five regimes progressively degenerate starting with aristocracy at the top and tyranny at the bottom. [19]

In his Politics , Aristotle elaborates on Plato's five regimes discussing them in relation to the government of one, of the few, and of the many. [20] From this follows the classification of forms of government according to which people have the authority to rule: either 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).

Thomas Hobbes stated on their classification:

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 Commonwealth a monarchy; when an assembly of all that will come together, then it is a democracy, or popular Commonwealth; when an assembly of a part only, then it is called an aristocracy. Other kind of Commonwealth there can be none: for either one, or more, or all, must have the sovereign power (which I have shown to be indivisible) entire. [21]

Basic political systems

According to Yale professor Juan José Linz there a three main types of political systems today: democracies, totalitarian regimes and, sitting between these two, authoritarian regimes with hybrid regimes. [22] [23] Another modern classification system includes monarchies as a standalone entity or as a hybrid system of the main three. [24] Scholars generally refer to a dictatorship as either a form of authoritarianism or totalitarianism. [25] [22] [26]

Autocracy

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). [27] Absolute monarchy is a historically prevalent form of autocracy, wherein a monarch governs as a singular sovereign with no limitation on royal prerogative. Most absolute monarchies are hereditary, however some, notably the Holy See, are elected by an electoral college (such as the college of cardinals, or prince-electors). Other forms of autocracy include tyranny, despotism, and dictatorship.

Aristocracy

Aristocracy [lower-alpha 2] is a form of government that places power in the hands of a small, elite ruling class, [28] such as a hereditary nobility or privileged caste. This class exercises minority rule, often as a landed timocracy, wealthy plutocracy, or oligarchy.

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, non-servant, and non-city classes in the feudal system.[ citation needed ]

Democracy

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National governments which self-identify as democracies
National governments which do not self-identify as democracies Democracy claims.svg
  •   National governments which self-identify as democracies
  •   National governments which do not self-identify as democracies
Governments recognised as "electoral democracies" as of 2020
by the Freedom in the World survey Electoral democracies.svg
Governments recognised as "electoral democracies" as of 2020 by the Freedom in the World survey

Democracy is a system of government where citizens exercise power by voting and deliberation. In a direct democracy, the citizenry as a whole directly forms a participatory 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 or, less commonly, by sortition. These select citizens then meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature or jury.

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 initiatives, referendums (plebiscites), and the right of recall. In a constitutional democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits majority rule, usually through the provision by all of certain universal rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association. [29] [30]

Republics

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. [31] [32]

A common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of state is not a monarch. [33] [34] 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. [35]

Other terms used to describe different republics include democratic republic, parliamentary republic, semi-presidential republic, presidential republic, federal republic, people's republic, and Islamic republic.

Federalism

Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by 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, 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.[ citation needed ] Proponents are often called federalists.

Branches

Separation of powers in the US government, demonstrating the trias politica model Separation of powers.png
Separation of powers in the US government, demonstrating the trias politica model

Governments are typically organised into distinct institutions constituting branches of government each with particular powers, 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. A shared, intersecting, or overlapping distribution of powers is the fusion of powers.

Governments are often organised into three branches with separate powers: a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary; this is sometimes called the trias politica model. However, in parliamentary and semi-presidential systems, branches of government often intersect, having shared membership and overlapping functions. Many governments have fewer or additional branches, such as an independent electoral commission or auditory branch. [36]

Party system

Presently, most governments are administered by members of an explicitly constituted political party which coordinates the activities of associated government officials and candidates for office. In a multiparty system of government, multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government offices, typically by competing in elections, although the effective number of parties may be limited.

A majority government 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 in which they have only a plurality of seats and often depend on a confidence and supply arrangement with other parties. A coalition government is one in which multiple parties cooperate to form a government as part of a coalition agreement. 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, [37] [38] but even a minority government may consist of just one party unable to find a willing coalition partner at the moment. [39]

A party which continuously maintains a single-party government within a (nominally) multiparty system constitutes a dominant-party system. In a (nondemocratic) one party system a single ruling party 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 or non-partisan democracy.

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. [40] However the world is becoming more authoritarian with a quarter of the world's population under democratically backsliding governments. [40]

Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 2017.
Full Democracies
9-10
8-9
Flawed Democracies
7-8
6-7
Hybrid Regimes
5-6
4-5
Authoritarian Regimes
3-4
2-3
0-2 EIU Democracy Index 2017.svg
Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 2017.
World first-and-second degree administrative levels Blank Map World Secondary Political Divisions.svg
World first-and-second degree administrative levels
A world map distinguishing countries of the world as federations (green) from unitary states (blue).
Unitary states
Federations Map of unitary and federal states.svg
A world map distinguishing countries of the world as federations (green) from unitary states (blue).

See also

Notes

  1. Frederickson 2000, p. 12, quote:"...conservative southern Democrats viewed warily the potential of New Deal programs to threaten the region's economic dependence on cheap labor while stirring the democratic ambitions of the disfranchised and undermining white supremacy."
  2. Ancient Greek: ἀριστοκρατίαaristokratía, from ἄριστος aristos "excellent", and κράτος kratos "power".
  3. Conducted by American think tank Freedom House, which is largely funded by the US government.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Democracy</span> Form of government

Democracy is a form of government in which the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation, or to choose governing officials to do so. Who is considered part of "the people" and how authority is shared among or delegated by the people has changed over time and at different rates in different countries, but over time more and more of a democratic country's inhabitants have generally been included. Cornerstones of democracy include freedom of assembly, association, property rights, freedom of religion and speech, inclusiveness and equality, citizenship, consent of the governed, voting rights, freedom from unwarranted governmental deprivation of the right to life and liberty, and minority rights.

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 limitations on them. The leader of a dictatorship is called a dictator. Politics in a dictatorship take place between the dictator, the inner circle, and the opposition, which may be peaceful or violent. Dictatorships can be formed by a military coup that overthrows the previous government through force or by a self-coup in which elected leaders make their rule permanent. Dictatorships are authoritarian or totalitarian and can be classified as military dictatorships, one-party dictatorships, personalist dictatorships, or absolute monarchies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Politics</span> Activities associated with group decisions

Politics is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social science that studies politics and government is referred to as political science.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Totalitarianism</span> Extreme form of authoritarianism

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 regulation over public and private life. It is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of authoritarianism. In totalitarian states, political power is often held by autocrats, such as dictators and absolute monarchs, who employ all-encompassing campaigns in which propaganda is broadcast by state-controlled mass media in order to control the citizenry. By 1950, the term and concept of totalitarianism entered mainstream Western political discourse. Furthermore this era also saw anti-communist and McCarthyist political movements intensify and use the concept of totalitarianism as a tool to convert pre-World War II anti-fascism into Cold War anti-communism.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aristocracy</span> Form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class

Aristocracy is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class, the aristocrats. The term derives from the Greek aristokratíā, meaning 'rule of the best'.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Autocracy</span> Form of government

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">One-party state</span> State in which only one party has the right to form the government

A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of sovereign state in which only one political party has the right to form the government, usually based on the existing constitution. All other parties are either outlawed or allowed to take only a limited and controlled participation in elections. Sometimes the term "de facto one-party state" is used to describe a dominant-party system that, unlike the one-party state, allows democratic multiparty elections, but the existing practices or balance of political power effectively prevent the opposition from winning power.

In political science, a political system means the type of political organization that can be recognized, observed or otherwise declared by a state.

A timocracy in Aristotle's Politics is a state where only property owners may participate in government. More advanced forms of timocracy, where power derives entirely from wealth with no regard for social or civic responsibility, may shift in their form and become a plutocracy where the wealthy rule.

The kyklos is a term used by some classical Greek authors to describe what they considered as the cycle of governments in a society. It was roughly based on the history of Greek city-states in the same period. The concept of the kyklos is first elaborated by Plato, Aristotle, and most extensively Polybius. They all came up with their own interpretation of the cycle, and possible solutions to break the cycle, since they thought the cycle to be harmful. Later writers such as Cicero and Machiavelli commented on the kyklos.

An illiberal democracy describes a governing system in which, although elections take place, citizens are cut off from knowledge about the activities of those who exercise real power because of the lack of civil liberties; thus it does not constitute an open society.

Politeia is an ancient Greek word used in Greek political thought, especially that of Plato and Aristotle. Derived from the word polis ("city-state"), it has a range of meanings from "the rights of citizens" to a "form of government".

Mixed government 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. The idea was popularized during classical antiquity in order to describe the stability, the innovation and the success of the republic as a form of government developed under the Roman constitution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of democracy</span> Aspect of history

A democracy is a political system, or a system of decision-making within an institution or organization or a country, in which all members have an equal share of power. Modern democracies are characterized by two capabilities that differentiate them fundamentally from earlier forms of government: the capacity to intervene in their own societies and the recognition of their sovereignty by an international legalistic framework of similarly sovereign states. Democratic government is commonly juxtaposed with oligarchic and monarchic systems, which are ruled by a minority and a sole monarch respectively.

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 voting. Political scientists have created many typologies describing variations of authoritarian forms of government. Authoritarian regimes may be either autocratic or oligarchic and may be based upon the rule of a party or the military. States that have a blurred boundary between democracy and authoritarianism have some times been characterized as "hybrid democracies", "hybrid regimes" or "competitive authoritarian" states.

Criticism of democracy has been a key part of democracy and its functions. As Josiah Ober explains, "the legitimate role of critics" of democracy may be difficult to define, but one "approach is to divide critics into 'good internal' critics and 'bad external' critics who reject the values embraced and nurtured by constitutional democracy."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metaxism</span> Greek nationalist ideology

Metaxism is an authoritarian nationalist ideology associated with Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas. It called for the regeneration of the Greek nation and the establishment of a modern, culturally homogenous Greece. Metaxism disparaged liberalism, and held individual interests to be subordinate to those of the nation, seeking to mobilize the Greek people as a disciplined mass in service to the creation of a "new Greece."

Anocracy or semi-democracy is a form of government that is loosely defined as part democracy and part dictatorship, or as a "regime that mixes democratic with autocratic features." Another definition classifies anocracy as "a regime that permits some means of participation through opposition group behavior but that has incomplete development of mechanisms to redress grievances." The term "semi-democratic" is reserved for stable regimes that combine democratic and authoritarian elements. Scholars have also distinguished anocracies from autocracies and democracies in their capability to maintain authority, political dynamics, and policy agendas. Similarly, the regimes have democratic institutions that allow for nominal amounts of competition.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to politics and political science:

References

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  3. 1 2 Smelser & Baltes 2001, p. [ page needed ].
  4. Brock 2013, p. 53–62.
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  7. Christian 2004, p. 294.
  8. The New Encyclopædia Britannica (15th edition)[ full citation needed ]
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  11. Haider-Markel 2014, p. [ page needed ].
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  14. Renna 2015.
  15. Ribuffo 2011, pp. 2–6, quote on p. 6.
  16. Frederickson 2000, p. 12.
  17. Freeland 2012.
  18. Norman Abjorensen (15 June 2019). Historical Dictionary of Democracy. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 288–. ISBN   978-1-5381-2074-3. OCLC   1081354236.
  19. Brill 2016.
  20. Ivan Jordović (2019). Taming Politics: Plato and the Democratic Roots of Tyrannical Man. Franz Steiner Verlag. p. intro. ISBN   978-3-515-12457-7. OCLC   1107421360.
  21. Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan  via Wikisource.
  22. 1 2 Juan José Linz (2000). Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes. Lynne Rienner Publisher. p. 143. ISBN   978-1-55587-890-0. OCLC   1172052725.
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  28. "aristocracy" . Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  29. Oxford English Dictionary : "democracy".
  30. Watkins, Frederick (1970). "Democracy". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 7 (Expo '70 hardcover ed.). William Benton. pp. 215–23. ISBN   978-0-85229-135-1.
  31. Montesquieu 1748, book 2, chapters 1.
  32. "Republic". Encyclopædia Britannica.[ full citation needed ]
  33. "republic". WordNet 3.0. Archived from the original on 12 March 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2009.
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  35. Montesquieu 1748, book 2, chapters 2–3.
  36. Needler 1991, pp.  116–118.
  37. Gallagher, Laver & Mair 2006.
  38. Kettle 2015.
  39. Duxbury 2021.
  40. 1 2 The Global State of Democracy 2021, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance
  41. "Democracy Index 2017 – Economist Intelligence Unit" (PDF). EIU.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 December 2020. Retrieved 17 February 2018.

Bibliography

Further reading