Forms of Government

Forms of government simply mean different types of government in existence. Such government includes – Monarchy system of government, aristocracy, autocracy, feudalism, fascism, dictatorship, theocracy, diarchy, socialism, communism, capitalism, totalitarianism, authoritarianism and republicanism.

Monarchy: This is one of the earliest forms of government. It is a system of government where the supreme power is vested on the monarch. The monarch is also the head of state. Most communities in Nigeria had one king or ruler in the name of Alafin, Obas, Emirs, Eze, Ata etc. In contemporary society, England still has the monarchical system in place. Queen Elizabeth of England is the Monarch. In Africa Alafin of Oyo, Emperor Heile Selaise of Ethiopia, king of Swaziland and of Morocco are examples of monarchical system in modern society.

Aristocracy: This is a form of government where power is held by the nobles in the society. The nobles who form the government belong to the upper classes that are believed to be superior in birth, intelligence and culture.

Feudalism: This is a form of government where social, economic and political activities are controlled by land owners. They dominate the reign of government. It is hierarchical in character with the king as the head and the vassals at the tail. Under this government vassals held land on condition of giving military assistance and other services to the king in return for protection and use of land.

Fascism: Fascism is one of the forms of government established in Italy in 1992 by Benito Mussolini, it also existed in Germany and Spain. It encourages private ownership of business by individuals while all industries and businesses are controlled by a strong national government. It opposes radical socialism or communism. Fascism is mostly seen as strong nationalistic movement in favour of corporate control of industries and businesses but opposed to socialism and communism.

Dictatorship: Dictatorship is a government organization in which absolute power is wielded by the head of state. He uses such powers to dictate his will to the rest of the citizens. The dictator does not consult the citizens or the elected representatives before making laws or giving orders that would affect them. The dictator uses the army and the police to enforce such dictatorial law on the people. A dictator in government is a tyrant or a despot who exercises absolute power with unlimited personal authority. Examples of such rulers are, Idin Amin of Uganda, Samuel Doe of Liberia, Adolf Hitler of Germany and Emperor Bokassa of Central Africa Republic.

Theocracy: This is a form of government in which God is recognized as the supreme civil ruler and his laws are taken as the law of the state. Theocratic governments are run by priests or group of religious people who claim to be ordained by God to rule the state. Example is Rome under Pope, Turkey under the Sultan.

Diarchy: This is a form of government in which power is vested in two or more rulers that have contradictory political views and background. A good example is a situation whereby the government is run by the military and the civilian. The military head of state appoint civilian ministers to run the government with him. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwi once advocated this form of government for Nigeria, in light of the consistent military takeover of government. Countries that practice this form of government is Beazil, Turkey and Chile.

Triarchy: This is a form of government under three rulers or government by three persons. Government under the colonial administration was seen as triachy, where the queen of England is the supreme head, but being represented in the colony by the Governor General who ruled through the chiefs, the Obas and the Emirs in the colonial communities. This is a form of indirect rule.

Socialism: Socialism is a form of government based on social organization by which the means of production and distribution are owned, managed or controlled by the government. Under this form of government, the state plans the economy and dictates the market level. Socialism preaches equitable distribution of wealth and welfare services for the citizens. This form of government was introduced in Russia under Lenin and Stalin. Karl Marx is known as the advocate of socialism, which is the establishment of or control of economic structures along socialist orientation.

Communism: This is an advanced form of socialism where all the means of production, distribution and exchange of goods and services are owned and managed by the government. The government controls the means of production and distribution of wealth with the aim of establishing a classless society. The production goods and services are dictated by the government and citizens benefit from the goods and services produced under communism. These forms of government exist in China and in some primitive African society.

Capitalism: This is a form of government based on private ownership of property and means of production. Wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of few people who control the means of production and distribution of goods and services. Most countries in contemporary world adopted mixed economic system. Capitalism is practiced in United States and Japan. Germany, France and Britain adopted mixed economic system.

Anarchy: This is a state of lawlessness or absence of any system of government. Anarchy is a state of disorder, confusion and lawlessness. Anarchism is a political theory which states that all system of government and law are harmful in that they restrict the freedom of individuals. Those that believe in anarchism think that government and laws prevent individuals from reaching their greatest development.

Tyranny: This is a form of government organized by an absolute ruler to keep down the subjects or subjugate them. Tyranny is cruel and unjust use of power by a ruler for the achievement of his selfish desires. Tyrants make excessive use of power in an oppressive and wicked manner to actualize their selfish interest.

Despotism: This is a form of government where the ruler wields absolute power. A despot may be a monarch who has absolute power over his subject. His power is not subject to constitutional checks. Under this form of government, there is absence of constitution.

Totalitarianism: Totalitarianism is a form of government that doesn’t allow for opposition party. It is usually one political party in which everyone belongs to. This form of government is adopted where the government in power wants to stifle opposition and control everything.

Authoritarianism: This is a form of government where the subjects submit to the authority of the monarch. Like in totalitarianism, there is no freedom of thought, religion or expression. The monarch controls all aspect of the citizen’s life.

Republicanism: This form of government does not recognize hereditary kingship. Citizens elect representatives of their choice to manage the affairs of the government. Most contemporary states adopt republican principles in governance. Countries like Nigeria, Ghana and United States of America applies republican principles in the management of government affairs. Most governments adopt mixed forms of government in its administration. The formation of political parties, sharing of government functions, implementation of policies and allocation of resources do not follow one process or system of government

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