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the institution through which a society makes and enforces its public policies

public policy

all of the many goals that a gov't pursues in all of the many areas of human affairs in which it is involved

legislative power

the power to make law and to frame public policies

executive power

the power to execute, enforce, and administer law

judicial power

the power to interpret laws, to determine their meaning, and to settle disputes that arise within the society


the body of fundamental laws setting out the principles, structures, and processes of a gov't


a form of gov't in which the leader has absolute power and authority


a form of gov't in which the supreme authority rests with the people


a body of people living in a defined territory who have a gov't with the power to make and enforce law without the consent of any higher authority


having supreme power within its own territory; neither subordinate nor responsible to any other authority


a form of gov't in which a single person holds unlimited political power


a form of gov't in which the power to rule is held by a small, usually self-appointed elite

unitary government

a centralized gov't in which all gov't powers belong to a single, central agency

federal government

a form of gov't in which powers are divided between a central gov't and several local gov'ts

division of powers

basic principles of federalism; the constitutional provisions by which governmental powers are divided on a geographic basis


a joining of several groups for a common purpose


an adjustment of opposing principles or systems of modifying some aspect of each

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