2 Authoritarian Government No two gov’ts are alike. They are shaped by their country’s unique history, culture, politics and economy.Gov’ts may be grouped into two broad categories: democratic and authoritarian. In authoritarian regimes, power is held by an individual or group not accountable to the people. An oligarchy is an example of this.
3 continuedA monarchy is a gov’t with a hereditary ruler. Absolute monarchs has unlimited authority to do as they wish. Today, many countries have monarchs but almost none are “absolute”.
4 continuedA monarchy is a gov’t with a hereditary ruler. Absolute monarchs has unlimited authority to do as they wish. Today, many countries have monarchs but almost none are “absolute”.Dictators also exercise complete control but usually take power by force. Most rely on the police and military to stay in power. They often tamper with elections or refuse to hold them. They also limit basic freedoms.
5 continuedThe brutal rule of dictator Idi Amin in Uganda lefts hundreds of thousands dead. Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddhafi still hold power.
6 continuedMost dictators impose totalitarian rule, in which the gov’t controls almost all aspects of people’s lives. Totalitarian leaders typically have a master plan for the economy and society. They ban political opposition, suppress individual freedom and dictate what people should believe. To enforce their rules, they control the media and use scare tactics and violence.Hitler and Stalin were totalitarian rulers. Today, China, Cuba and North Korea have them.
7 Democratic Governments Almost all monarchies today are constitutional monarchies, in which the power of the hereditary ruler is limited by the country’s constitution and laws. These gov’ts generally follow democratic practices.The people participate in governing and elect officials to make laws. The monarch serves as the ceremonial head of state and nation symbol of unity.
8 continuedA republic is a democracy with a representative gov’t in which no leaders inherit office. It is also called a representative democracy or a constitutional republic. The U.S. was the first republic, but not there are many more.Democracy has been spreading. Nearly 2/3rds of the world’s countries now have democratic gov’ts. All are representative democracies, though they vary in how they elect leaders and organize gov’t.
9 continuedFew democracies use a presidential system. Most follow Great Britain’s model and use a parliamentary system. The legislature is usually called a parliament and the head of gov’t, a prime minister, though the terminology can vary.
10 continuedIn a parliamentary system, top officials perform both executive and legislative functions. Prime ministers and their cabinet ministers are members of the parliament, so they help make the laws as well as carry them out. In a presidential system, the executive and legislative branches operate independently.In a presidential system, voters elect the president directly. In a parliamentary system, members of parliament elect the prime minister.
11 continuedIn a presidential system, the president acts as both the head of gov’t (political leader) and head of state (ceremonial leader). In a parliamentary system, someone other than the prime ministers (king, queen, etc) serve as head of state.Because a parliamentary system does not separate the legislative and executive branches, it has fewer checks and balances.
12 continuedHowever, the unity among branches helps the gov’t get things done. The prime minister is typically from the majority party in the legislature. As a result, the gov’t has fewer party conflicts over laws and policies like those that cause gridlock in the U.S. Congress.Gov’ts evolve as times change and people with new agendas come to power.