Governments are institutions that possess the necessary authority to control a society. Theoretically, and frequently in practice, governments maintain a monopoly on the use of violence. Politics represents the strife for power that takes place within government, or as in Harold Lasswell’s famous phrase “who gets what, when, and where?” This program assumes that all governments seek to reinforce their power to govern by seeking legitimacy. Why? Although governments can, and do, exercise authority by the intimidation of armed violence, very often it is an expensive way to sustain power.
- A government can’t place a police officer on every corner or rule by military strength alone if it wants to be sustainable (although the long life of dictatorships often challenges this assertion). It is much more comfortable for governments when citizens accept their authority voluntarily. To this effect, all governments, even non-democratic governments, seek legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens. Legitimacy is the belief that a government is and deserves obedience.
- Most societies agree that the existence of government is morally justified. What they disagree about is the purpose of government and its scope. As a result, institutions create different government structures based on their political ideology of what a government should do.
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List of types of governments
- Anarchy – a state of lawlessness or political upheaval brought about by the nonexistence of governmental authority.
- Authoritarian – a sort of government in which the state imposes authority onto many phases of citizens’ lives.
- Commonwealth – a nation, state, or other political entity founded on law and united by a compact of the people for the common good.
- Communist – a mode of government in which the state designs and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power; state controls are imposed with the expulsion of private ownership of the property while professing to make advancement toward a higher social order in which distribution of all goods are driven equally by the people (i.e., a classless society).
- Confederacy – a union by compact or treaty between states, provinces, or territories that creates a central government with limited powers; the constituent entities retain supreme authority over all matters except those delegated to the central government.
- Constitutional – a government by or operating under an authoritative document (constitution) that sets forth the system of fundamental laws and principles that determines the nature, functions, and limits of that government.
- Constitutional democracy – a system of government in which the sovereign power of the people is spelled out in a governing constitution.
- Constitutional monarchy – a system of government in which a constitution guides a monarch whereby his/her rights, duties, and responsibilities are spelled out in written law or by custom.
- Democracy – a form of government in which the people retain the supreme power, but which is usually exercised indirectly through a system of representation and delegated authority periodically renewed.
- Democratic republic – a state in which the ultimate power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them.
- Dictatorship – a form of government in which a ruler or small clique wields absolute power (not restricted by a constitution or laws).
- Ecclesiastical – It is a system of government where controls the administration.
- Emirate – It is comparable to a monarchy or sultanate, a government in which the supreme power rests in the hands of an emir (the ruler of a Muslim state); the emir may be an absolute overlord or a sovereign with constitutionally restrained authority.
- Federal (Federation) – It is a form of government where sovereign power is formally distributed usually through a constitution between a central and state authority; so that each region retains some supervision of its internal affairs; differs from a confederacy in that the central government exerts influence directly upon both individuals as well as upon the regional units.
- Federal republic – a state in which the powers of the central government are regulated and in which the parts (states, colonies, or provinces) retain a degree of self-government; ultimate sovereign power rests with the voters who chose their governmental representatives.
- Islamic republic– It is a distinct form of government affirmed by some Muslim states. However, such a state is, in theory, a theocracy, it remains a republic, but its laws are required to be compatible with the laws of Islam.
- Maoism – the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism developed in China by Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung), which states that a continuous revolution is necessary if the leaders of a communist state are to keep in touch with the people.
- Marxism – It is the political and socio-economic principles advocated by 19th-century economist Karl Marx. He observed the struggle of workers as a progression of historical forces that would proceed from a class struggle of the people (workers) exploited by capitalists, to a socialist “dictatorship of the proletariat,” to, finally, a classless society — Communism.
- Marxism-Leninism – It is an extended form of Communism elaborated by Vladimir Lenin from the doctrines of Karl Marx; Lenin saw imperialism as the final stage of capitalism and shifted the focus of workers’ struggle from developed to underdeveloped countries.
- Monarchy – It is a type of government in which the supreme power rests in the hands of a monarch who reigns over a state or territory, usually for life and by hereditary right. The monarch may be either a sole, absolute ruler or a sovereign – such as a king, queen, or prince – with constitutionally confined authority.
- Oligarchy – It is a type of government in which a small group of individuals exercises controls based on wealth or power.
- Parliamentary democracy – a political system in which the legislature (parliament) selects the government – a prime minister, premier or chancellor along with the cabinet ministers – according to party strength as expressed in elections; by this system, the government acquires a dual responsibility: to the people as well as to the parliament.
- Parliamentary government – a government in which members of an executive branch (the cabinet and its leader – a prime minister, premier, or chancellor) are nominated to their positions by a legislature or parliament, and are directly responsible to it. This type of government can be dissolved at will by the parliament using a no-confidence vote, or the leader of the cabinet may dissolve the parliament if it can no longer function.
- Parliamentary monarchy – a state headed by a monarch who is not actively involved in policy formation or implementation, real governmental leadership is carried out by a cabinet and its head – a prime minister, premier, or chancellor – who are drawn from a legislature (parliament).
- Presidential – a system of government where the executive branch exists separately from a legislature (to which it is generally not accountable).
- Republic – a representative democracy in which the people’s elected deputies (representatives), not the people themselves, vote on legislation.
- Socialism – a government in which planning, producing, and distributing goods is controlled by a central government that seeks a more just and just distribution of property and labor; in actuality, most socialist governments have ended up being no more than dictatorships over workers by a ruling elite.
- Sultanate – similar to a monarchy, a government in which the supreme power is in the hands of a sultan (the head of a Muslim state); the sultan may be an absolute ruler or a sovereign with constitutionally limited authority.
- Theocracy – a form of government in which a Deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, the Deity’s laws are interpreted by ecclesiastical authorities (bishops, mullahs, etc.); it is a government subject to the religious leader.
- Totalitarian – It is a government that seeks to subordinate the individual to the state by controlling not only all political and economic matters but also the attitudes, values, and beliefs of its population.
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