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Types of Governments

Governments can be classified into several types. Some of the more common types of governments are: 1. Democracy The word "democracy" literally means "rule by the people." In a democracy, the people govern. 2. Republic A literal democracy is impossible in a political system containing more than a few people. All "democracies" are really republics. In a republic, the people elect representatives to make and enforce laws. 3. Monarchy A monarchy consists of rule by a king or queen. Sometimes a king is called an "emperor," especially if there is a large empire, such as China before 1911. There are no large monarchies today. The United Kingdom, which has a queen, is really a republic because the queen has virtually no political power. 4. Aristocracy

An aristocracy is rule by the aristocrats. Aristocrats are typically wealthy, educated people. Many monarchies have really been ruled by aristocrats. Today, typically, the term "aristocracy" is used negatively to accuse a republic of being dominated by rich people, such as saying, "The United States has become an aristocracy." 5. Dictatorship A dictatorship consists of rule by one person or a group of people. Very few dictators admit they are dictators; they almost always claim to be leaders of democracies. The dictator may be one person, such as Castro in Cuba or Hitler in Germany, or a group of people, such as the Communist Party in China. 6. Democratic Republic Usually, a "democratic republic" is not democratic and is not a republic. A government that officially calls itself a "democratic republic" is usually a dictatorship. Communist dictatorships have been especially prone to use this term. For example, the official name of North Vietnam was "The Democratic Republic of Vietnam." China uses a variant, "The People's Republic of China."

(the descriptions of various countries is based on their government system in early 2002; some of these have definitely changed since then)

Descriptions of governments can be based on:

Economy - what provides the goods and services that are bought, sold, and used?
Capitalism (Russia) In a capitalist or free-market economy, people own their own businesses and property and must buy services for private use, such as healthcare. Socialism (Norway) Socialist governments own many of the larger industries and provide education, health and welfare services while allowing citizens some economic choices Communism (Cuba) In a communist country, the government owns all businesses and farms and provides its people's healthcare, education and welfare.

Politics - how is the government run?

Dictatorship Totalitarian Theocracy Monarchy Parliamentary (Iraq) Rule by a single leader who has not been elected and may use force to keep control. In a military dictatorship, the army is in control. Usually, there is little or no attention to public opinion or individual rights. (China) Rule by a single political party. People are forced to do what the government tells them and may also be prevented from leaving the country. (Iran) A form of government where the rulers claim to be ruling on behalf of a set of religious ideas, or as direct agents of a deity. (Jordan) A monarchy has a king or queen, who sometimes has absolute power. Power is passed along through the family (Israel) A parliamentary system is led by representatives of the people. Each is chosen as a member of a political party and remains in power as long as his/her party does Republic (USA) A republic is led by representatives of the voters. Each is individually chosen for a set period of time. Anarchy (Afghanistan?)
Anarchy is a situation where there is no government. This can happen after a civil war in a country, when a government has been destroyed and rival groups are fighting to take its place.

Authority - who picks the government?

Revolutionary (USA, France, USSR etc) The existing structure is overthrown by a completely new group. The new group can be very small - such as the military - or very large as in a popular revolution. After a period of time, this 'becomes' one of the other type of government (unless there is another coup or uprising). Totalitarian (North Korea) Rule by a single political party. Votes for alternative candidates and parties are simply not allowed. Citizens are allowed and 'encouraged' to vote, but only for the government's chosen candidates. Oligarchy/Plutocracy (Pakistan) A form of government which consists of rule by an elite group who rule in their own interests, especially the accumulation of wealth and privilege. Only certain members of society have a valid voice in the government. This can reflect (but is not limited to) economic interests, a particular religious tradition (theocracy), or familial rule (monarchy). Democracy (India) In a democracy, the government is elected by the people. Everyone who is eligible to vote - which is a majority of the population - has a chance to have their say over who runs the country.

REMEMBER: nearly every country in the world is ruled by a system that combines 2 or more of these (for example, the USA is not a true capitalist society, since the government actually provides some services for its citizens). Additionally, one person's opinion of the type of government may differ from another's (many argue that the USA is actually a plutocracy rather than a democracy).

Word Definition acracy government by none; anarchy adhocracy government in an unstructured fashion; an unstructured organization albocracy government by white people anarchy government by none androcracy government by men anemocracy government by the wind or by whim angelocracy government by angels antarchy opposition to government; anarchy argentocracy government by money aristarchy government by the best aristocracy government by the nobility arithmocracy government by simple majority autarchy government by an absolute ruler autocracy government by one individual barbarocracy government by barbarians beerocracy government by brewers or brewing interests bestiocracy rule by beasts biarchy government by two people; diarchy binarchy government by two people; diarchy bureaucracy government by civil servants cannonarchy government by superior firepower or by cannons capelocracy government by shopkeepers chiliarchy government by one thousand people chirocracy government by physical force chromatocracy government by rulers of a particular skin colour chrysoaristocracy government by the wealthy; plutocracy chrysocracy government by the wealthy; plutocracy corpocracy government by corporate bureaucrats cosmarchy rulership over the entire world, esp. by the devil cottonocracy government by those involved in the cotton trade cryptarchy secret rulership decadarchy government by ten individuals; decarchy decarchy government by ten individuals demarchy government by the people; popular government democracy government by the people

demonarchy government by a demon demonocracy government by demons or evil forces despotocracy government by despots or tyrants diabolocracy government by the Devil diarchy government by two people dinarchy government by two people; diarchy dodecarchy government by twelve people doulocracy government by slaves duarchy government by two people; diarchy dulocracy government by slaves; doulocracy dyarchy government by two people; diarchy ecclesiarchy government by clerics or ecclesiastical authorities endarchy centralised government ergatocracy government by the workers or the working class ethnarchy government over an ethnic group ethnocracy government by an ethnic group or race exarchy government by bishops foolocracy government by fools gerontocracy government by the aged gunarchy government by women; gynarchy gymnasiarchy government over a school or academy gynaecocracy government by women; gynarchy gynarchy government by women gynocracy government by women; gynarchy hagiarchy government by saints or holy persons hagiocracy government by holy men hamarchy government by a cooperative body of parts hecatarchy government by one hundred people; hecatontarchy hecatontarchy government by one hundred people hendecarchy government by eleven people heptarchy government by seven people heroarchy government by heroes hetaerocracy government by paramours heterarchy government by a foreign ruler hierarchy government by a ranked body; government by priests hierocracy government by priests or religious ministers hipparchy rule or control of horses

hoplarchy government by the military hyperanarchy condition of extreme anarchy hyperarchy excessive government iatrarchy government by physicians idiocracy personal rule; self-rule infantocracy government by an infant isocracy equal political power jesuitocracy government by Jesuits juntocracy government by a junta kakistocracy government by the worst kleptocracy government by thieves kritarchy government by judges landocracy government by the propertied class; timocracy logocracy government of words matriarchy government by women or mothers meritocracy government by the meritorious merocracy government by a part of the citizenry mesocracy government by the middle classes metrocracy government by mothers or women; matriarchy millionocracy government by millionaires millocracy government by mill owners mobocracy government by mobs or crowds monarchy government by one individual moneyocracy government by the monied classes monocracy government by one individual myriarchy government by ten thousand individuals narcokleptocracy government by those who profit from trade in illegal drugs navarchy rulership over the seas neocracy government by new or inexperienced rulers nomocracy government based on legal system; rule of law ochlocracy government by mobs octarchy government by eight people oligarchy government by the few paedarchy government by children paedocracy government by children; paedarchy panarchy universal rule or dominion pantarchy government by all the people; world government pantisocracy government by all equally paparchy government by the pope papyrocracy government by newspapers or literature parsonarchy government by parsons

partocracy government by a single unopposed political party patriarchy government by men or fathers pedantocracy government by pedants or strict rulebound scholars pentarchy government by five individuals phallocracy government by men philosophocracy government by philosophers phylarchy government by a specific class or tribe physiocracy government according to natural laws or principles pigmentocracy government by those of one skin colour plantocracy government by plantation owners plousiocracy government by the wealthy; plutocracy plutarchy government by the wealthy; plutocracy plutocracy government by the wealthy polarchy government by many people; polyarchy policeocracy government by police pollarchy government by the multitude or a mob; ochlocracy polyarchy government by many people polycracy government by many rulers; polyarchy popocracy government by populists pornocracy government by harlots prophetocracy government by a prophet psephocracy government resulting from election by ballot ptochocracy government by beggars or paupers; wholesale pauperization punditocracy government by political pundits quangocracy rule of quasi-autonomous nongovernmental organizations rotocracy government by those who control rotten boroughs septarchy government by seven rulers; heptarchy shopocracy government by shopkeepers slavocracy government by slave-owners snobocracy government by snobs sociocracy government by society as a whole squarsonocracy government by landholding clergymen

squatterarchy government by squatters; squattocracy squattocracy government by squatters squirearchy government by squires squirocracy government by squires; squirearchy statocracy government by the state alone, without ecclesiastical influence stratarchy rulership over an army stratocracy military rule or despotism strumpetocracy government by strumpets synarchy joint sovereignty technocracy government by technical experts tetradarchy government by four people; tetrarchy tetrarchy government by four people thalassiarchy sovereignty of the seas; thalassocracy thalassocracy sovereignty of the seas thearchy rule by a god or gods; body of divine rulers theatrocracy goverment by gathered assemblies of citizens theocracy government by priests or by religious law timarchy government by the propertied class; timocracy timocracy government by the propertied class triarchy government by three people tritarchy government by three people; triarchy tritheocracy government by three gods whiggarchy government by Whigs xenocracy government by a body of foreigners

Small, pre-industrial societies chose chiefs or other leaders to make and enforce the rules by which they lived. The people themselves took no part in the rulemaking. They left everything to their leaders. However, as cultures developed, people became interested in helping to make the rules or laws that governed them, because they had so much at stake. Little by little they developed the idea of choosing leaders who would draw up laws that they wanted and thought suitable. The people also began to put into operation their own systems for enforcing these laws. They had learned how to create a government.


The governments that people establish for themselves can influence, and even change, their lives in many ways. Governments decide such matters as what kinds of property should be publicly owned (that is, owned by the state in the name of the people). They can also decide how much property can be privately owned and how much a person must pay in taxes. Governments can set educational requirements, place limits on immigration, and conscript (draft) citizens into military service. Public libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions, hospitals, and parks are at least partly dependent on government.


Because government leaders have such great power, nothing is more important to citizens than the choice of able leaders. Human happiness depends to a considerable degree on the kind of laws that governments enact. In earlier societies political power was often accompanied by superior force. Governments today are sometimes ruled by leaders who have taken power by force. But such leaders are considered to govern illegally. Legal governments are those to which the consent of the governed has been freely given, usually through elections. Elected leaders are expected to take into account the economic and social needs of the people as well as their customs and traditions. When a government reflects these needs and traditions, the people tend to have faith in it and are willing to abide by its laws. If not, they may vote their leaders out of office and elect new ones. In most modern nations there are also agreements or understandings between the government and the governed. One basic form of agreement is a constitution. It defines (and limits) what a government can do and how it can do it. Constitutions may be written or unwritten. Unwritten constitutions are usually based on a large body of established law and custom.

Forms of Government
From The New Book of Knowledge

Grades: 35, 68, 912 Print Share

6 Most of the world's people belong to political groups called nations or countries. Within the borders of each nation, the people are organized to keep order among themselves, provide certain common services (such as education, communications, and transportation), and protect themselves from attack by hostile countries. Since the earliest years of human history, groups of people living together have needed rules to regulate their daily lives.


Aristotle's Definitions
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) said that "The true forms of government...are those in which the

one, or the few, or the many govern, with a view to the common interest[horizontal_ellipsis]" A government run by one person Aristotle called a monarchy. Government by the few he called an aristocracy. Government by the many was a polity. This is what is now called a constitutional democracy. Although Aristotle considered these the true forms of government, he believed that each could be bad as well as good. For example, a monarchy ruled only for the purpose of increasing the monarch's wealth and power became a tyranny and the ruler a tyrant. When the ruling few in an aristocracy ruled only for their own benefit, Aristotle referred to such a government as an oligarchy. Oligarchic governments were more common in his time than today. But although such governments did not necessarily begin as corrupt, Aristotle saw them as inevitably becoming so. To describe rule by the many, Aristotle drew on the Greek word demos, meaning "common people." He called government by the common people a democracy. Aristotle did not regard democracy favorably. He believed that government by the masses could lead to disorder or lawlessness.

A constitutional monarchy is a democratic government in which the monarch is retained as the ceremonial head of state. But he or she has little or no political power. Constitutional monarchies evolved from absolute monarchies. Their powers were gradually reduced, and their functions are now limited by a constitution. Probably the best-known constitutional monarchy is that of the United Kingdom, which has an unwritten constitution.

Totalitarian Government
As a form of government, totalitarianism is of fairly recent origin. The term came into use in the 1920's and 1930's to describe the fascist regimes of Italy and Nazi Germany. After World War II (1939-45) the name was increasingly used to describe the Communist governments of the Soviet Union and the newly created states of Eastern Europe. A totalitarian government, as its name implies, is characterized by its total control over all aspects of its citizens' political and economic activities. It is often used interchangeably with the term dictatorship to indicate a non-democratic form of government. But totalitarianism is even more rigorous in its controls. It is also marked by a distinct ideology, or set of beliefs, as in fascism, Nazism, or Communism. The term authoritarian government is sometimes used for a similar form of government but one that does not exert such absolute control over its peoples' lives. The disintegration of the Soviet Union in late 1991 brought about the collapse of most Eastern European Communist governments.

Like many other terms used in government, the word autocracy is derived from Greek roots, in this case those for "self" and "rule." An autocrat was a ruler with unlimited authority. Absolute monarchy, a related term, refers to a monarch who ruled without checks on his or her power. The two terms were combined in the former emperors of Russia. They used "autocrat" as part of their title. Absolute monarchies exist today only in some of the states of the Arabian Peninsula. Another related term for autocracy, more commonly used in the past, is despotism, or rule by a despot.


It is not always easy to tell if a country's government is democratic or not by its outward appearances. Many nondemocratic governments can appear on the surface to be democratic. The former Communist nations of Eastern Europe, for example, called themselves people's republics or people's democracies. They had written constitutions, had legislatures to pass laws, and held elections. But real political power was concentrated in the hands of the top leaders of the Communist Party. Their policies were then automatically approved by the "official" organs of the government.

Modern Democracy
Present-day democratic government differs significantly from the democracy practiced in ancient Greece, particularly in the city-state of Athens, where democracy reached its height. All male Athenian citizens were expected to participate directly in their government. They helped make laws and choose officials. The modern democratic state is usually a republic. In a republic, the people do not take a direct role in legislating or governing but elect representatives to express their views and wants. A democratic government exists when these representatives are freely chosen by the people. Their demands are then recognized by the elected government. In addition to free elections, true democratic governments also have other standards by which they can be measured. One is freedom of speech, under which people may criticize their governments without fear of persecution. Another is the peaceful and orderly transfer of political power when new leaders are elected to office.

Election Procedures
One way to determine if a government is representative of its people is by its election procedures. In a democratic state, elections are held at regularly scheduled intervals. Voters choose from a number of candidates and vote is by secret ballot. The secret ballot is essential so that voters will not be unduly influenced or pressured or fear retribution for the choices they make. By contrast, there is the directed election. This is used by political leaders who, although they may have come to power legally, do not wish to be unseated. Essentially, in such an

election the government in power controls the election campaign so that it cannot be defeated. In another kind of directed election, only one candidate is offered for each political office, giving voters no choice.

realizing the goal of an international community dedicated to enduring peace, social growth, and economic plenty.

Political Parties
The structure of a country's system of political parties is a strong indication of its status. Democratic nations have at least two major political parties. Some have numerous parties that represent a wide range of interests. In most non-democratic countries there is only one legal party--that of the government in power. Even if other political parties are permitted, they merely go along with the policies of the dominant party.

Parliamentary Government
Modern democratic governments can be classified into two broad categories. One is parliamentary government. This is also known as cabinet government. Its model was the British parliamentary system. In parliamentary government there is a concentration of responsibility. The government is headed by a prime minister (or premier), who is usually the leader of the political party that wins a majority of seats in election to the parliament. Where multiple political parties exist, a majority may not be achieved. In such cases, the largest party usually forms a coalition government by joining forces with one or more smaller parties. The prime minister and cabinet form the government but are responsible to the parliament, of which they are members. If defeated on an important measure, the government must call new elections. In any event, elections must be held at scheduled periods.

Presidential Government
The presidential form of government is typified by that of the United States. It is based on the separation of powers. Political power is distributed among three branches of government--the executive (the president), legislative (the Congress), and judicial (the Supreme Court and other courts). This division of authority provides checks and balances. It serves to limit the power of government, which is defined by a written constitution.

In the past, the common people were afraid even to dream of a better way of life. If their ruler was an absolute monarch, they had no choice but to bow to that ruler's command. But in our own time, even the most autocratic governments have been forced to give some attention to the people's consent. The Declaration of Human Rights, issued by the United Nations (UN), stresses the duty of governments to treat their people justly. It also directs people to develop a voice in their governments. The UN also holds that the sooner all nations and their people follow such action, the closer they will come to