Gov: Types of Government

Types of Government
All societies develop some form of government. These governments fall into three broad groups: rule by the one (monarchies and dictatorships), rule by the few (theocracies and single-party states), and rule by the many (parliamentary and presidential democracies).

Monarchies are one of the oldest forms of government still found in the world today. For monarchal government to have survived for thousands of years, it must have enduring attractions. One of those attractions is efficiency. A second advantage is a clear line of succession. A third is the unifying power of monarchy.

Dictators take and hold power by force. Dictatorships share some of the advantages of absolute monarchies. Power is centralized in the hands of a single military or political leader who can get things done efficiently.

A theocracy is a government headed by religious leaders. A single, state-supported religion encouraged political and social unity. It also ensured that political decisions were in line with the people’s moral values and beliefs.

In a single-party state, the constitution allows only one political party to govern. Power is exercised by the leading members of the party, who form the nation’s political elite, or a small group of people within a larger group who have more power, wealth, or talent than the others.

In the direct democracy citizens meet regularly as an assembly to make decisions. Each citizen had an equal voice in public affairs and decisions, once made, had widespread support. This form of government is time-consuming.

In a parliamentary democracy, voters elect lawmakers to represent them in the nation’s parliament. The party that wins a legislative majority forms a new administration. The legislative majority then selects a member of parliament to serve as the nation’s prime minister, or chief executive.

In a presidential democracy, voters choose a president to lead the government as the head of the executive branch. They also elect lawmakers to represent them in a national legislature.

In almost all nation-states, government power is exercised at a minimum of two levels: national and regional. Just how power is distributed between these two levels depends on which system of government a country has: unitary, federal, or confederal.

In a unitary system of government, the constitution concentrates power in the national or central government. The main advantage of unitary systems is that it promotes national unity by having all parts of a country follow the same laws and policies.

In a federal system of government, the constitution divides power between the national government and the regional governments. The main advantage of such a system is the flexibility it gives regional governments in meeting the needs of different language and ethnic groups.

In a confederal system, power resides in the regions, which are independent states. The regions grant only as much power to the national government as needed to maintain security and to coordinate activities among the regions. It allowed the states to unite for some purposes without giving up the power to run their own affairs.

Just as forms of government vary from one nation to the next, so do economic systems. An economic system is a way of organizing the production and consumption of goods and services. The way a society uses the factors of production is determined by its economic system. Three basic types of economic systems exist in the world today: traditional, market, and command.

In a traditional economy, people rely on time-tested customs to answer the three fundamental economic questions. People in traditional economies provide for themselves. Most people in a traditional economy live at a subsistence level, producing just enough goods to feed, clothe, and house their families.

In a market economy, individual producers and consumers answer the three basic economic questions. In a pure free-market economy, the government plays little or no role in economic affairs. Another name for a market economy is a free enterprise system. A free enterprise system relies on the profit motive, economic competition, and the forces of supply and demand to direct the production and distribution of goods and services.

In a command economy, the government answers the three basic economic questions. In a pure command economy, the means of production are publicly owned. Government planners decide what goods and services should be produced and how. They also determine how goods and services should be distributed to consumers and at what cost.

Pure forms of traditional, market, and command economic systems do not exist today. In the real world, most countries have mixed economies that fall somewhere in between. A mixed economy blends reliance on market forces with some government involvement in the marketplace. The degree of that involvement varies from country to country.



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