A system of government in which political authority is held by the people. Democracies typically feature constitutional governments with majority rules, a belief in individual worth and in equal rights for all people, freedom of expression, political freedom, and freedom of choice. There are two major styles of Democracy....
Direct Democracy (true democracy):
A system of government in which are made directly by the people. Thus, all the people of the community must vote on every decision. Since this is very difficult to do out side of small communities, most Democracies are Representational.
A system of government in which the people choose political leaders to voice their ideas and beliefs, as well as make policy decisions on their behalf. It is this system that is currently used in the United States.
A system of government in which the leader(s) take control through force and often times fear. The people have little, if any, control. In some cases, government officials are not elected by the people. In others, elections are unfair or manipulated by those in control. Dictatorships' authority may rest on a combination of their leaders' political power, military power, wealth, and/or social position. Dictators achieve and maintain power through force. Sometimes dictators are so extreme that they seek complete control over all aspects of citizens' lives, including political, religious, social, cultural, and even personal activities. We call this form of dictatorship totalitarianism because the dictator has total control over society. There are two major types of Dictatorships...
If the power in a dictatorship is concentrated in the hands of a single person it is an autocracy. Autocratic rulers can be brutally harsh at times, while others can be extremely benevolent to the people in their country.
Monarchies are one of the longest lasting governments in the world. A monarchy is typically characterized as having royalty of some kind that gets their power and authority through inheritance. However, in recent history monarchies around the world have changed greatly, taking power from the ruling family and giving it to the citizens of the country. Therefore, there are two main types of monarchies.
A person/family (royalty) has complete control over a country. Their decision is the law. Birthright or inheritance determines the person who is in control. Currently Saudi Arabia has an Absolute Monarchy.
Real power rests in the hands of the people of the country, who are allowed to elect leaders on their behalf to run the country. (Much like a representational democracy). However, the royal family can still carry some power and acts as the symbol of their country. There are many examples in Europe of Constitutional Monarchies.
In these countries religion is the mandate of the law. Usually the religious leader is also the countries leader. It is not important how the person got to their position of power. What is important is that all decisions are based on that person's interpretation of the religious text(s) used by that country. Theocratic tendencies can exist along side other government systems. For instance, a country could be a theocratic monarchy. Iran could be considered a theocratic oligarchy.
An economic system where individuals in a country control the factors of production and have the freedom to buy and sell goods as they choose. This economic system exist with little to no government intervention, and typically occurs within a democracy.
An economic system in which the government owns or controls many of the means of production and directly provides for many of the people's needs. Socialist systems need not be democratic, but most are.
An economic system in which the government owns or controls nearly all factors of production and distribution of goods and services. Most communist governments have an authoritarian style ruler. In this system all land and goods are seen as owned by all members of society. China is currently a Communist system.
All legal power is held by the national, or central government. Local governments, such as those for provinces and cities, have no independent powers and are simply local representatives of the national government. Their job is to carry out decisions made by the national government. The United Kingdom, Israel, and Japan are examples of unitary systems.
Powers are divided up among national, state and local governments. In this system, some powers belong only to the national government, others only to state and/or local governments, and still others are shared by all three. The United States, Germany, India and Malaysia are all examples of federal systems.
This is where independent states join together to accomplish common goals. There may a small central government, or one may not even exist. However, the power and authority rests firmly in the hands of local government. The United States was a confederation from 1781-1789. The Articles of Confederation were replaced with the U.S. Constitution and a federal system of government. Today, Canada, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates are examples of confederations. The European Union is a confederation of nations made up of 15 established countries (expanding to 23) that joined together to promote economic and political cooperation.
The legislative branch which makes the law, and the executive branch, which carries out the law, are separate and independent of each other. The executive branch is headed by a president who is chosen independently of the legislature. Each has their own powers and members of one branch may not be members of the other. What these powers are and how much each branch has influence over the other is dependent on the country. The United States and France both use a Presidential system.
The executive, often called the prime minister or premier, is chosen by the parliament, or legislature. The prime minister and other officials appointed from the parliament make up the executive. If the executive loses the parliament's support, a new prime minister, cabinet member and other formerly agreed upon leaders must be chosen, and/or a new legislative election is held. In parliamentary systems the chief executive of the government and the head of state are separate offices. In some parliamentary systems, such as in the United Kingdom, the head of state is a monarch. In others, such as in Israel, the head of state is a president.