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A Republic is a form of government in which the people or some portion thereof retain supreme control over the government,[1][2] and in which the head of government is not a monarch.[3][4] The word "republic" is derived from the Latin phrase res publica, which can be translated as "a public affair".

Both modern and ancient republics vary widely in their ideology and composition. The most common definition of a republic is a state without a monarch.[3][4] In republics such as the United States and France, the executive is legitimized both by a constitution and by popular suffrage. In the United States, James Madison defined republic in terms of representative democracy as opposed to direct democracy,[5] and this usage is still employed by many viewing themselves as "democrats".[6] Montesquieu included both democracies, where all the people have a share in rule, and aristocracies or oligarchies, where only some of the people rule, as republican forms of government.[7] In modern political science, republicanism refers to a specific ideology that is based on civic virtue and is considered distinct from ideologies such as liberalism.[8]

Most often a republic is a sovereign country, but there are also subnational entities that are referred to as republics, or which have governments that are described as "republican" in nature. For instance, Article IV of the Constitution of the United States "guarantee[s] to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government."[9] The Soviet Union was a single nation composed of distinct and nominally sovereign Soviet Socialist Republics.

Niccolò Machiavelli described the governance and foundation of the ideal republic in his work Discourses on Livy. These writings, as well as those of his contemporaries such as Leonardo Bruni, are the foundation of the ideology political scientists call republicanism.[10][11]

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