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Forms of Government Chapter 1; Section 2.

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1 Forms of Government Chapter 1; Section 2

2 Classifying Governments
No two gov’ts are exactly alike. All gov’t can be classified to one or more basic features. Three main classifications of government: 1. Who can participate in the governing process. 2. The geographic distribution of government power w/in the state. 3. The relationship between the legislative (lawmaking) and the executive (law-executing) branches of the government.

3 1. Who Can Participate Democracy
Who can take part? Two basic forms: Democracy Political authority rests with the PEOPLE; Gov’t is conducted with the consent of the people. Honest Abe: “Gov’t of the people, by the people, for the people.” Direct or Indirect Direct = “Pure Democracy”; Will of the people is put into public policy directly by the people. Doesn’t exist at nation level anywhere; Small towns. Why? Indirect = Representative Democracy A small group, chosen by the people act as representatives and express popular will. “Government by popular consent.” US Gov’t is Indirect (Representative) Democracy

4 ‘Murica: Republic or Democracy?
Some insist the U.S. is a republic and not a democracy. For them, democracy can only be defined in terms of direct democracy. A republic states that sovereign power is held by those eligible to vote, while political power is in the hands of their representatives. The people do not rule directly.

5 1. Who Can Participate Dictatorship Can be Autocracies or Oligarchies:
First basic form was Democracy. Second Form: Dictatorship Those who rule are not held responsible to the will of the people; Gov’t is not accountable for its policies. Can be Autocracies or Oligarchies: Autocracy = Gov’t where a single person holds unlimited political power. Oligarchy = Gov’t where the power to rule is held by a small, usually self appointed elite. All are Authoritarian  Those w/ power have absolute authority over the people. Modern Can be Totalitarian  Have complete power over nearly every aspect of human affairs. One-Person Dictatorships are not common today. Typically Militaristic in nature. Military holds many of the major posts in gov’t.

6 Examples of “Modern” Dictators?


8 2. Geographic Distribution of Power
Power to govern is located in places geographically; 3 basic forms: Unitary Government “Centralized Government”; All powers belong to a single, central agency; Central (National) gov’t creates local units of gov’t. Most gov’ts are Unitary: Great Britain  Parliament holds central power w/ local gov’ts to relieve Parliament’s burden. Federal Government Powers are divided between central gov’t and local gov’ts. United States  National Gov’t has certain powers, and the 50 states have their own. Division of powers is outlined in the Constitution. The Constitution stands above both levels of government. Confederate Government An alliance of independent states. Power to handle only those matters that members states have assigned to it. Allows for several states to cooperate in matters of common concern and retain their separate identities. Closest one today is the European Union (EU).


10 3. Legislative and Executive Branches
Gov’t can be classified by the relation between lawmaking and executive agencies; Two basic forms: Presidential Government Separation of Powers between the executive and the legislative branches. Two branches are independent and coequal (equal w/ each other). President is chosen by the people independent of the legislature. United States Parliamentary Government Executive Branch is made up of prime minister or premier, and a cabinet; Prime Minister and cabinet are also members of the legislative branch, parliament. Prime Minister and Cabinet stay in power as long as they have support from Parliament. “Vote of No Confidence”  If Parliament no longer agrees w/ Executives they form a new government w/ new leaders. PM & Parliament less likely to be deadlocked than Presidential. Majority of governments in world are parliamentary.


12 Review 1. What are the fundamental ideas of a democracy? 2. How is a republic different than a democracy? 3. What’s the difference between an autocracy and an oligarchy? 4. How is power distributed in a presidential government? 5. How is power distributed in a parliamentary government? 6. Which system seems to give the most power to the legislative branch? Gov’t rules by consent of the people. Decision are made by Majority Rule. In a republic, the sovereign power is held by those eligible to vote, and the will of the people is carried out by representatives elected by voters. The people do not rule directly. Autocracy = Power to rule is held by one person. Oligarchy = Power to rule by a small group of people. President and members of Congress are chose separately and are independent. President has powers that aren’t under control of legislature. Prime Minister and the cabinet belong to the legislative branch. PM is under direct control by legislature. Parliamentary system to give more power to the legislative branch.

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