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For government in linguistics, see Government (linguis- 1.2


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.[6] It is especially important
in the political science elds of comparative politics and
international relations.

A government is the system by which a state or community is governed.[1] In the Commonwealth of Nations, the
word government is also used more narrowly to refer to
the collective group of people that exercises executive authority in a state.[2][3][4] This usage is analogous to what
is called an "administration" in American English. Furthermore, government is occasionally used in English as
a synonym for governance.

On the surface, identifying a form of government appears to be easy, as all governments have an ocial form.
The United States is a federal republic, while the former Soviet Union was a socialist republic. However selfidentication is not objective, and as Kopstein and Lichbach argue, dening regimes can be tricky.[7] For example, elections are a dening characteristic of a democracy,
but in practice elections in the former Soviet Union were
not free and fair and took place in a single party state.
Thus in many practical classications it would not be considered democratic.

In the case of its broad associative denition, government normally consists of legislators, administrators, and
arbitrators. Government is the means by which state policy is enforced, as well as the mechanism for determining
the policy of the state. A form of government, or form
of state governance, refers to the set of political systems
and institutions that make up the organisation of a specic

Identifying a form of government is also dicult because

a large number of political systems originate as socioeconomic movements and are then carried into governments by specic 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

Government of any kind currently aects every human activity in many important ways. For this reason, political scientists generally argue that government
should not be studied by itself; but should be studied
along with anthropology, economics, environmentalism,
history, philosophy, science, and sociology.

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
words denition is used elsewhere. As Ribuo (2011)
notes, what Americans now call conservatism much of
the world calls liberalism or neoliberalism.[8] Since the
1950s conservatism in the United States has been chiey
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.[9]

Political science


Classifying government


From Middle English government, from Old French government (French gouvernement), from Latin gubernatio
(management, government). Government is a compound formed from the Ancient Greek (kuberna, I steer, drive, guide, pilot) and the Latin mente, ablative singular of mns (mind).

arch-, prex derived from the Greek archon, 'rulership', which means higher in hierarchy.[5] The
Greek word krtos, 'power', which means
right to lead is the sux root in words like
aristocrat and democracy. Its mythological personication was the god Kratos, a son of Styx.

Every country in the world is ruled by a system of governance that combines at least 2 (or more) of the following
attributes (for example, the United States is not a true
capitalist society, since the government actually provides
social services for its citizens). Additionally, one persons opinion of the type of government may dier from


anothers (for example, some may argue that the United

States is a plutocracy rather than a democracy since they
may believe it is ruled by the wealthy).[10] There are always shades of gray in any government. Even the most
liberal democracies limit rival political activity to one extent or another, and even the most tyrannical dictatorships
must organise a broad base of support, so it is very difcult "pigeonholing" every government into narrow categories.

a small time. In modern times, an autocrats rule is not

stopped by any rules of law, constitutions, or other social and political institutions. After World War II, many
governments in Latin America, Asia, and Africa were
ruled by autocratic governments. Examples of autocrats
include Idi Amin, Muammar Gadda, Adolf Hitler and
Gamal Abdul Nasser.
2.1.3 Monarchic attributes


The dialectical forms of government

Governments with monarchic attributes are ruled by a

king/emperor or a queen/empress who usually holds their
Main article: Platos ve regimes
position for life. There are two types of monarchies: absolute monarchies and constitutional monarchies. In an
The Classical Greek philosopher Plato discusses ve absolute monarchy, the ruler has no limits on their wishes
types of regimes. They are aristocracy, timocracy, or powers. In a constitutional monarchy a rulers powers
oligarchy, democracy and tyranny. Plato also assigns a are limited by a document called a constitution. The conman to each of these regimes to illustrate what they stand stitution was put in place to put a check to these powers.
for. The tyrannical man would represent tyranny for example. These ve regimes progressively degenerate start2.1.4 Pejorative attributes
ing with aristocracy at the top and tyranny at the bottom.
In Republic, while Plato spends much time having
Socrates narrate a conversation about the city he founds
with Glaucon and Adeimantus in speech, the discussion
eventually turns to considering four regimes that exist in
reality and tend to degrade successively into each other:
timocracy, oligarchy (also called plutocracy), democracy
and tyranny (also called despotism).

Regardless of the form of government, the actual governance may be inuenced by sectors with political power
which are not part of the formal government. Certain actions of the governors, such as corruption, demagoguery,
or fear mongering, may disrupt the intended way of working of the government if they are widespread enough.

2.2 By elements of who elects the empowForms of government by associered

ated attributes

2.2.1 Authoritarian attributes

Descriptions of governments can be based on the follow- 2.2.2 Democratic attributes

ing attributes:
Further information: Outline of democracy


By elements of where decision-making

Governments with democratic attributes are most compower is held
Aristarchic attributes

Governments with aristarchy attributes are traditionally

controlled and organised by a small group of the mostqualied people, with no intervention from the most part
of society; this small group usually shares some common trait. The opposite of an aristarchic government is

mon in the Western world and in some countries of the

east that have been inuenced by western society, often
by being colonised by western powers over the course of
history. In democracies, large proportions of the population may vote, either to make decisions or to choose
representatives to make decisions. Commonly signicant
in democracies are political parties, which are groups of
people with similar ideas about how a country or region
should be governed. Dierent political parties have different ideas about how the government should handle different problems.

Autocratic attributes

Governments with autocratic attributes are dominated by 2.2.3 Oligarchic attributes

one person who has all the power over the people in a
country. The Roman Republic made dictators to lead dur- Governments with oligarchic attributes are ruled by a
ing times of war; the Roman dictators only held power for small group of segregated, powerful and/or inuential


By signicant constitutional attributes

people, who usually share similar interests and/or family relations. These people may spread power and elect
candidates equally or not equally. An oligarchy is dierent 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.

ments 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.

3.2 By signicant constitutional attributes

Certain major characteristics are dening of certain

Some historical examples of oligarchy are the former types; others are historically associated with certain types
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Some critics of of government.
representative democracy think of the United States as
an oligarchy. The Athenian democracy used sortition to
Rule according to higher law (unwritten ethical prinelect candidates, almost always male, white, Greek, edciples) vs. written constitutionalism
ucated citizens holding a minimum of land, wealth and
Separation of church and state vs. state religion


Other attributes

By elements of how power distribution

is structured
Republican attributes

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
oces of states are subsequently directly or indirectly
elected or appointed rather than inherited.

Federalism attributes

Civilian control of the military vs. stratocracy

Totalitarianism/authoritarianism vs. libertarianism
Police state
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

3.3 By approach to regional autonomy

Federalism is a political concept in which a group of This list focuses on diering approaches that political
members are bound together by covenant (Latin: foe- systems take to the distribution of sovereignty, and the
dus, covenant) with a governing representative head. The autonomy of regions within the state.
term federalism is also used to describe a system of
government in which sovereignty is constitutionally di Sovereignty located exclusively at the centre of povided between a central governing authority and conlitical jurisdiction.
stituent political units (such as states or provinces). Fed Empire
eralism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between
Unitary state
national and provincial/state governments, creating what
is often called a federation. Proponents are often called
Sovereignty located at the centre and in peripheral


Other power structure attributes

Forms of government by other

characteristic attributes
By socio-economic system attributes

Further information: Economic system

Historically, most political systems originated as
socioeconomic ideologies; experience with those move-

Federation and federal republic

Federal monarchy
Diverging degrees of sovereignty.
Asymmetrical federalism
Associated state
Colonial dependency


Decentralisation and devolution (powers redistributed from central to regional or local governments)


Theoretical and speculative attributes

These currently have no citable real-world examples outside of ction.


A world map distinguishing countries of the world as monarchies

(red) from other forms of government (blue). Many monarchies are considered electoral democracies because the monarch
is largely ritual; in other cases the monarch is the only powerful
political authority.

5 See also
Central government
Comparative government
Constitutional economics
Legal rights
List of countries by system of government

States by their systems of government. For the complete list

of systems by country, see List of countries by system of
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
states whose constitutions grant only a single party the right to
states where constitutional provisions for government have been

List of European Union member states by political

Political economy
State (polity)
Voting system
World government

6 References
[1] government. Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press. November 2010.
[2] government.. Oxford Dictionaries e. Oxford University
Press. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
[3] Bealey, Frank, ed. (1999). government. The Blackwell
dictionary of political science: a users guide to its terms.
Wiley-Blackwell. p. 147. ISBN 0631206957.

Countries highlighted in blue are designated "electoral democracies" in Freedom Houses 2015 survey Freedom in the World,
covering the year 2014.[44] Freedom House considers democracy
in practice, not merely ocial claims.

[4] government.. Macquarie Dictionary. Macmillan Publishers Group. 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
[5] archon. Online Etymology Dictionary. Etymonline.com.
Retrieved on 2013-03-15.

[6] Lewellen, Ted C. Political Anthropology: An Introduction Third Edition. Praeger Publishers; 3rd edition (30
November 2003)
[7] Comparative politics : interests, identities, and institutions
in a changing global order, Jerey Kopstein, Mark Lichbach (eds.), 2nd ed, Cambridge University Press, 2005,
ISBN 0521708400, p. 4
[8] Leo P. Ribuo, 20 Suggestions for Studying the Right
now that Studying the Right is Trendy, Historically
Speaking Jan 2011 v.12#1 pp 26, quote on p. 6
[9] Kari Frederickson, The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of
the Solid South, 19321968, p. 12, "...conservative southern Democrats viewed warily the potential of New Deal
programs to threaten the regions economic dependence
on cheap labor while stirring the democratic ambitions
of the disfranchised and undermining white supremacy.,
The University of North Carolina Press, 2000, ISBN 9780-8078-4910-1
[10] Plutocrats The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and
the Fall of Everyone Else Chrystia Freeland is Global
Editor-at-Large at Reuters news agency, following years
of service at the Financial Times both in New York and
London. She was the deputy editor of Canadas Globe and
Mail and has reported for the Financial Times, Economist,
and Washington Post. She lives in New York City.
[11] Ernst R. Berndt, (1982).From Technocracy To Net Energy Analysis: Engineers, Economists And Recurring Energy Theories Of Value, Studies in Energy and the American Economy, Discussion Paper No. 11, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Revised September 1982
[12] American 503
[13] Fotopoulos, Takis, The Multidimensional Crisis and
Inclusive Democracy. (Athens: Gordios, 2005). (English
translation of the book with the same title published in
[14] Victorian Electronic Democracy : Glossary. 28 July
2005. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007.
[15] Field Listing :: Government type. CIA The World Factbook. Retrieved on 2013-03-15.
[16] American 1134
[17] Waibl, Elmar; Herdina, Philip (1997). Dictionary of
Philosophical Terms vol. II English-German / EnglischDeutsch. Walter de Gruyter. p. 33. ISBN 3110979497.
Retrieved September 18, 2012.
[18] Corporatocracy. Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved May
29, 2012. /krprtkrs/ .... a society or system that is
governed or controlled by corporations:
[19] Spencer Heath MacCallum (June 1, 1998) A Peaceful
Ferment in Somalia. The Independent Institute. Independent.org. Retrieved on 2013-03-15.
[20] American 1225
[21] Plutocracy Rising Moyers & Company. Billmoyers.com (2012-10-19). Retrieved on 2013-03-15.

[22] American 1793

[23] "Decentralism: Where It Came From-Where Is It Going?".
Amazon.com. ISBN 1551642484.
[24] Anarchy. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University
Press. 2004. The rst quoted usage is 1667
[25] Anarchy. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University
Press. 2004. The rst quoted usage is 1552
[26] Anarchy. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University
Press. 2004. The rst quoted usage is 1850.
[27] Noam Chomsky on the history of Anarchy.
Youtube.com. 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
[28] A discussion on what anarchy is, by those that selfidentify as anarchists. anarchy.net.
[29] Marshall, Monty G.; Cole, Benjamin R. (1 December 2011). "Global Report 2011: Conict, Governance,
and State Fragility" (PDF). Vienna: Center for Systemic
Peace. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
[30] Vernon, Phil; Baksh, Deborrah (September 2010).
Working with the Grain to Change the Grain: Moving
Beyond the Millennium Development Goals (PDF). London: International Alert. p. 29. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
[31] Richard Alan White (1984). The Morass. United States
Intervention in Central America. New York: Harper &
Row. p. 319. ISBN 9780060911454.
[32] Big-business Greed Killing the Banana (p. A19)". The
Independent, via The New Zealand Herald. 24 May 2008.
Retrieved 24 June 2012.
[33] O. Henry (15 December 2009). Cabbages and Kings. MobileReference. p. 198. ISBN 978-1-60778-412-8. Retrieved 15 March 2013. While he was in Honduras, Porter
coined the term 'banana republic'
[34] Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws (1748), Bk. II, ch. 1.
[35] Republic. Encyclopdia Britannica.
[36] republic. WordNet 3.0 (Dictionary.com). Retrieved 20
March 2009.
[37] Republic.


Retrieved 14 August

[38] Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws, Bk. II, ch. 23.

[39] Shiach, Morag (2004). Modernism, Labour and Selfhood
in British Literature and Culture, 1890-1930. Cambridge
University Press. p. 224. ISBN 978-0-521-83459-9
[40] Zwick, Mark and Louise (2004). The Catholic Worker
Movement: Intellectual and Spiritual Origins . Paulist
Press. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-8091-4315-3
[41] Boyle, David; Simms, Andrew (2009). The New Economics. Routledge. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-84407-675-8
[42] Novak, Michael; Younkins, Edward W. (2001). Three
in One: Essays on Democratic Capitalism, 1976-2000.
Rowman and Littleeld. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-74251171-2

[43] Storck, Thomas. Capitalism and Distributism: two systems at war, in Beyond Capitalism & Socialism. Tobias J.
Lanz, ed. IHS Press, 2008. p. 75
[44] Freedom in The World 2015 (PDF)

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). 222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA
02116: Houghton Miin Company. ISBN 0-39582517-2

Further reading
Krader, Lawrence (1968). Formation of the State, in
Foundations of Modern Anthropology Series. Englewood Clis, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. x, 118 p.

External links
The Phrontistery Word List: Types of Government
and Leadership
What Are the Dierent Types of Governments?
Types of Governments from Historical Atlas of the
20th Century
Other classications examples from Historical Atlas
of the 20th Century
World Aairs: Types of Government
Regime Types
CBBC Newsround: types of government
Bill Moyers: Plutocracy Rising
Phobiocracy by Chris Claypoole
Forms of Government



Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


Government Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government?oldid=651792505 Contributors: The Cunctator, Mav, Manning Bartlett,

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