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A government is the agency through which a political unit exercises its authority, controls and administers public policy, and directs and controls the actions of its members or subjects.[1]

Typically, the term "government" refers to the civil government of a sovereign state which can be either local, national, or international. However, commercial, academic, religious, or other formal organizations are also governed by internal bodies. Such bodies may be called boards of directors, managers, or governors or they may be known as the administration (as in schools) or councils of elders (as in forest). The size of governments can vary by region or purpose.

Growth of an organization advances the complexity of its government, therefore small towns or small-to-medium privately operated enterprises will have fewer officials than typically larger organizations such as multinational corporations which tend to have multiple interlocking, hierarchical layers of administration and governance. As complexity increases and the nature of governance becomes more complicated, so does the need for formal policies and procedures.


Types of governments

  • Anarchism - a political philosophy which considers the state to be unnecessary, harmful, or otherwise undesirable, and favors instead a stateless society
  • Authoritarian – Authoritarian governments are characterized by an emphasis on the authority of the state in a republic or union. It is a political system controlled by nonelected rulers who usually permit some degree of individual freedom.
  • Communism - Communism is a sociopolitical structure that aims for a classless and stateless society with the communal ownership of property.
  • Constitutional monarchy – A government that has a monarch, but one whose powers are limited by law or by a formal constitution. Example: United Kingdom[2][3]
  • Constitutional republic – A government whose powers are limited by law or a formal constitution, and chosen by a vote amongst at least some sections of the populace (Ancient Sparta was in its own terms a republic, though most inhabitants were disenfranchised; The early United States was a republic, but the large numbers of blacks and women did not have the vote). Republics which exclude sections of the populace from participation will typically claim to represent all citizens (by defining people without the vote as "non-citizens").
  • Democracy – Rule by a government (usually a Constitutional Republic or Constitutional Monarchy) chosen by election where most of the populace are enfranchised. The key distinction between a democracy and other forms of constitutional government is usually taken to be that the right to vote is not limited by a person's wealth or race (the main qualification for enfranchisement is usually having reached a certain age). A Democratic government is, therefore, one supported (at least at the time of the election) by a majority of the populace (provided the election was held fairly). A "majority" may be defined in different ways. There are many "power-sharing" (usually in countries where people mainly identify themselves by race or religion) or "electoral-college" or "constituency" systems where the government is not chosen by a simple one-vote-per-person headcount.
  • Dictatorship – Rule by an individual who has full power over the country. The term may refer to a system where the dictator came to power, and holds it, purely by force - but it also includes systems where the dictator first came to power legitimately but then was able to amend the constitution so as to, in effect, gather all power for themselves.[4] See also Autocracy and Stratocracy.
  • Monarchy – Rule by an individual who has inherited the role and expects to bequeath it to their heir.[5]
  • Oligarchy – Rule by a small group of people who share similar interests or family relations.[6]
  • Plutocracy – A government composed of the wealthy class. Any of the forms of government listed here can be plutocracy. For instance, if all of the voted representatives in a republic are wealthy, then it is a republic and a plutocracy.
  • Theocracy – Rule by a religious elite.[7]
  • Totalitarian – Totalitarian governments regulate nearly every aspect of public and private life.
  • Legalism - A legalistic government enforces the law with rewards to those who obey the laws and harsh punishments to people who go against the law.

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