This presentation discusses and outlines the forms of government seen in political systems around the world today.

US GovernmentEPISDForms of Government


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This presentation discusses and outlines the forms of government seen in political systems around the world today.
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  1. Forms of Government

    Slide 1 - Forms of Government

    • EPISD U.S. Government lesson 1.8
  2. Question To Consider:

    Slide 2 - Question To Consider:

    • Is there one BEST way to organize government?
  3. Lesson Objectives

    Slide 3 - Lesson Objectives

    • After completing this lesson, you will:
    • 1) Describe three factors that help distinguish between the basic forms of government.
    • 2) Distinguish between authoritarian, oligarchic and democratic forms of government and list the types of government with each of these categories.
    • 3) compare and contrast basic governmental forms using the basic data table provided.
    • 4) Describe confederate, federal and unitary systems of government and compare/contrast the advantages and disadvantages of these systems.
    • 5) Describe Presidential and Parliamentary forms of government and compare/contrast these with each other.
  4. Basic Forms of Government

    Slide 4 - Basic Forms of Government

    • States come in a variety of forms that vary based on:
    • who holds power,
    • how positions of leadership are obtained, and
    • how authority is maintained.
  5. Who Has the Power?

    Slide 5 - Who Has the Power?

    • The United States is a democratic presidential republic.
    • A democratic government headed by a powerful elected executive, the president.
    • But the United States originally won its independence from Britain, which was a monarchy, in which power was concentrated in an individual king.
    • Other forms of government include oligarchy and dictatorship or totalitarianism where power is in the hands of one or a few people and citizens have little if any say in their daily lives.
    • One way to classify these governments is by looking at how leaders gain power.
    • Under this system, governments fall into general categories of authoritarianism, oligarchy, and democracy.
  6. Authoritarian Governments

    Slide 6 - Authoritarian Governments

    • Differ in who holds power and in how much control they assume over those that they govern, but all are marked by the fact that the empowered are unelected individuals.
    • Monarchy - Power is in the hands of an individual, who is the head of state, often for life or until abdication.
    • The person who heads a monarchy is called a monarch.
    • Some monarchs hold unlimited political power while many constitutional monarchies, such as the United Kingdom and Thailand, have monarchs with limited political power.
    • Hereditary rule is often a common characteristic, but elective monarchies are also considered monarchies (e.g., The Pope) and some states have hereditary rulers, but are considered republics (e.g., the Dutch Republic).
    • Currently, 44 nations in the world have monarchs as heads of state.
    • Dictatorship – Ruler takes power and does not return it to the people. Uses power absolutely with little or no limit.
    • Totalitarian - political system that strives to regulate nearly every aspect of public and private life.
    • Maintain themselves in political power by means of an official all-embracing ideology and propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media.
    • A single party that controls the state, personality cults, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of free discussion and criticism, the use of mass surveillance, and widespread use of state terrorism.
  7. Oligarchic Governments

    Slide 7 - Oligarchic Governments

    • Oligarchy - is a form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family, military, or religious hegemony.
    • Different 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. Oligarchy does not have one clear ruler, but several powerful people who rule.
    • One common example is that of theocracy .
    • Theocracy is a form of government in which a god or deity is recognized as the state's supreme civil ruler, or in a broader sense, a form of government in which a state is governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided.
    • Theocratic governments enact religiously based laws.
    • Distinguished from other secular forms of government that have a state religion, or are merely influenced by theological or moral concepts, and monarchies held "by the Grace of God" (theory of Divine Right of Kings ).
  8. Democracy

    Slide 8 - Democracy

    • A form of government in which the right to govern is held by the majority of citizens within a country or a state.
    • The two principles of a democracy:
    • All citizens have equal access to power and
    • All citizens enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties.
    • Four elements of democracy are common:
    • (1) citizens choose and replace the government through free and fair elections;
    • (2) there is active participation of the citizens in politics and civic life;
    • (3) there is human rights and civil liberties (freedoms) are protected for all
    • citizens; and
    • (4) there is rule of law in which the laws and procedures of government and
    • society apply equally and fairly to all citizens.
  9. Types of Democracy

    Slide 9 - Types of Democracy

    • There are several varieties of democracy, some of which provide better representation and more freedoms for their citizens than others.
    • Direct Democracy = Citizens participate directly in all major decisions.
    • Representative Democracy = Citizens participate through voting on representatives who make decisions on their behalf.
    • Democracies must be carefully legislated with balances and protections to avoid an uneven distribution of political power
    • Basic Democratic Freedoms:
    • (1) Freedom of political expression,
    • (2) Freedom of speech,
    • (3) Freedom of religion and
    • (4) Freedom of the press
    • Essential so that all citizens are informed and able to fairly and equally participate in the political process.
  10. Freedom House Map of Freedom

    Slide 10 - Freedom House Map of Freedom

  11. Forms of National Government

    Slide 11 - Forms of National Government

    • Problems in governance arise when trying to rule over large geographic areas.
    • Solution is for smaller regional governments (states) to be created.
    • Conflictual relationships between states and central (national) government.
    • Three types of national governments:
    • Unitary
    • Federations (federal)
    • Confederations
    • Each of these types is seen in the world today and each has advantages and disadvantages.
  12. Unitary Systems

    Slide 12 - Unitary Systems

    • In a unitary system of government, the central government holds most of the power.
    • The unitary state still has local and regional governmental offices, but these are under the direct control or authority of the central government.
    • The United Kingdom is one example of a unitary nation.
    • Parliament holds the governing power in the U.K., granting power to and removing it from the local governments when it sees fit.
    • France is also a unitary government.
    • The national government rules over the various provinces or departments.
    • These local bodies carry out the directions of the central government, but never act independently.
  13. Federalist Systems

    Slide 13 - Federalist Systems

    • Federalism is marked by a sharing of power between the central government and state, provincial or local governing bodies.
    • The United States is one example of a federal republic .
    • The U. S. Constitution grants specific powers to the national government while retaining other powers for the states.
    • For example, the federal government can negotiate treaties with other countries while state and local authorities cannot.
    • State governments have the power to set and enforce driving laws while the federal government lacks that ability.
    • Canada and Germany also examples of modern federalist systems.
    • Federal System
  14. Confederation Systems

    Slide 14 - Confederation Systems

    • Weak central authority that derives all its powers from the state or provincial governments.
    • The states of a confederation retain all the powers of an independent nation, such as the right to maintain a military force, print money, and make treaties with other national powers.
    • The United States began its nationhood as a confederate state, under the Articles of Confederation.
    • However, the central government was too weak to sustain the burgeoning country.
    • Founding fathers shifted to a federal system when drafting the Constitution.
    • Contemporary example of a confederation is the Commonwealth of Independent States , which is comprised of several nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union.
    • These nations formed a loose partnership to enable them to form a stronger national body than each individual state could maintain.
    • Confederate System
  15. Advantages and Disadvantages

    Slide 15 - Advantages and Disadvantages

    • System
    • Level of Centralization
    • Strength
    • Weakness
    • Unitary (e.g., China, France, Japan, United Kingdom)
    • High
    • Sets uniform policies that direct the entire nation
    • Disregards local differences
    • Federal (e.g., United States, Germany, Australia, Canada
    • Medium
    • Gives local governments more power
    • Sacrifices national uniformity on some issues
    • Confederate (e.g., Confederate States of America, Belgium)
    • Low
    • Gives local/regional governments almost complete control
    • Sets no significant uniform national policies
  16. Review of National-State Relationships

    Slide 16 - Review of National-State Relationships

  17. Presidential and Parliamentary Forms of Democracy

    Slide 17 - Presidential and Parliamentary Forms of Democracy

    • There is no one right way of organizing a governmental system.
    • Each has its own individual advantages and disadvantages.
    • The same holds true of the two basic forms of democratic republics – Presidential and Parliamentary.
  18. Presidential Systems:

    Slide 18 - Presidential Systems:

    • Many of the world’s governments are modeled to some degree on the United States and its presidential system of government.
    • Distinguished from others because it has a chief executive (the president) who is chosen by the people to serve a limited term in office
    • Distinct separation of powers (the executive branch) as well as
    • Specific limitations on exactly what he/she can do while in office.
    • President serves not only as head of state but also is in charge of the executive branch of government.
    • Has the power to appoint members of executive cabinet to oversee major bureaucratic departments
    • Serves as the civilian head of the armed forces ,
    • Is responsible for setting foreign policy and
    • Determines and influences domestic policy and legislation (lawmaking agenda) .
  19. What Have We Learned So Far?

    Slide 19 - What Have We Learned So Far?

    • Forms of National-State governmental relationships including:
    • Unitary – Central (national) government holds all or most power
    • Federal – Power is shared and balanced between national government and states.
    • Confederation – National government has little power with most power going to a loose alignment of states.
    • Common forms of democratic state leadership –
    • Presidential – Chief executive elected by the people with limitations on power.
    • Parliamentary – legislature selects chief executive/head of state (usually called prime minister). Serves at leisure of the majority party in parliament and not independent of the legislature.
    • Many Different Forms of Government
    • Distinguished by: (1) who holds power, (2) how positions of leadership are obtained, and (3) how authority is maintained.
    • Governments fall into general categories of authoritarianism, oligarchy, and democracy.
    • Authoritarian – one person has absolute authority. May include monarchy (absolute), dictatorship and totalitarian
    • Oligarchy – small group of elites hold power. May also include theocracy where religious leaders also hold control over government.
    • Democracy – people participate directly or through representation in their government.
    • Characterized by citizen participation, rule of law and protection of rights including speech, political expression, religion and press.
  20. Music:

    Slide 20 - Music:

    • Images:
    • Wikimedia Commons
    • All images and media are licensed by the respective creators under the Creative Commons Fair Use license.