• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Buried in cloud files? We can help with Spring cleaning!

    Whether you use Dropbox, Drive, G-Suite, OneDrive, Gmail, Slack, Notion, or all of the above, Dokkio will organize your files for you. Try Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) for free today.

  • Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) was #2 on Product Hunt! Check out what people are saying by clicking here.


Philosophies and Forms of Government

Page history last edited by Robert W. Maloy 1 year, 2 months ago

Effects of Good Government on the City, Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1338-1339)



Forms of Government


Direct Democracy


Representative Democracy












British Parliamentary System 






Summary of Governments in History (by Mason Peng, March 2021)

  • First, governments are fluid - it’s very much possible for them to change - not always easy, but possible.


  • Secondly, governments do not necessarily serve the constituents - we like to think that the reality is that governments generally serve to help the people, but really most times governments help serve the government.


  • Lastly, just because a government seems bad, does not necessarily mean that it will change, building off of the previous points, governments often aggregate power, and make it difficult to be usurped. 



  Click here for a timeline of different trends in forms of government throughout history.



 March of Democracy. See 4,000 years of democracy in 90 seconds.


Click here for a Khan Academy video discussing the different forms of government rule


The CIA's list of different forms of government


Full Presidential System


Executive Presidency Linked to a Parliament


Semi-Presidential System


Parliamentary Constitutional Monarch


Absolute Monarchies


Single Party Government


Military Dictatorship



Direct Democracy

Political decision making and control is done by all the citizens who choose to participate.


Defining Democracy, from the Museum of Australian Democracy

"A form of democratic government whereby citizens have the right to participate in decision making through referenda on legislative initiatives. Direct democracy can exist in parallel to representative democracy, for example, where ballot initiatives allow citizens to vote on legislative initiatives, or replace representative democracy. "


  • EXAMPLE: New England Town Meeting


    • A New England town meeting is a legislature of citizens, for citizens, and by citizens. The fact that each citizen of the town is also a legislator makes the New England town meeting a direct democracy.


    • Town meeting democracy is not representative democracy.


    • In a New England town meeting, citizens come together and make laws face-to-face. Budgets are adjusted, passed, or defeated. Officers are elected. Town property is bought or sold. Taxes are levied. This is done legislatively under rules of procedure designed to protect minorities and to insure that the process is orderly and predictable.



 Click here to see archival footage of a Vermont town meeting in 1950. Town meetings in many New England towns operate much the same today.


  • EXAMPLE: Ancient Greece




Representative Democracy



The House of Burgesses was the first legislative assembly in the American colonies,

and was a leading model of democracy coming into the modern era.


Chamber of the House of Burgesses, Virginia

Political decision making and control is done by representatives elected by the people who have the responsibility of acting in the people's interest, but not always according to their wishes.

"A form of democratic government whereby citizens’ interests are represented by elected officials in open elections. Representatives act in the interests of their electors, either by bringing together electors’ views, or through personal initiative and independence between elections."


  • EXAMPLE: United States, France, United Kingdom, India

For more, link to House of Burgesses from Mt. Vernon website


  Over 70 countries have have had women leaders, many of them representative democratic countries.

Despite the impressive gains in equality and representation, women still lack greatly in parliament representation.





  • Click here for a list of current and past female world leaders throughout history


  • Click here for a list of the top ten most influential queens in England's history 




"A political system in which a country is ruled by law, has representative government, and is democratic in nature." A republic has a head of state who is not a monarch, often a president. There are a number of different kinds of republic including parliamentary, federal or democratic republics.

Although it is sometimes used interchangeably with representative democracy, republic is vague enough that a number of more authoritarian states are called republics including Iran and China. To see more about the difference between these terms, see this article.


  • EXAMPLES: United States, France, Germany, India


 There are many different types of Republics; these include but are not limited to:


  • Constitutional Republic- A form of republic government in which laws and forms of governing are determined by a formal constitution. 


  • Democratic Republic- A form of republic government in which laws are determined from a popular vote amongst citizens


  • Federal Republic- A form of republic government in which one ruling power has authority over provinces or states, but those said provinces and states have their own autonomy to govern themselves as long as their actions and laws do not contradict federal laws


Electoral Systems


Types of Electoral Systems from the World Policy Institute.


For more information, link to Democracy: Electoral Systems from the same organization.





Queen Elizabeth II, 2007


Queen Elizabeth II, 2007

"A form of government in which political power belongs largely to one ruler, generally called a king or queen, who receives his or her position by claim of divine or inherited right. "

Meet the World's Other 25 Royal Families, Washington Post (July 23, 2013)

Constitutional monarchy describes a state in which the monarch does not exercise political power.


  • EXAMPLE: United Kingdom, Sweden, Japan

Absolute monarchy describes a state in which the monarch has ultimate authority and exercises political power.



Click here for a short list of great female monarchs along with a small biography about each of them.


  • Click here to read a Washington Post article that shows a map of which of the world's monarchies allow female royal succession.


The World's Oldest Monarch:  Kingdom of Denmark





A form of government where a select few, usually considered the "ruling class," holds all of the political power. Oftentimes this ruling class distinction is economic in nature; for example, some consider free-market capitalism in the United States to be oligarchic as a result of massive campaign funding from large corporations. Sometimes referred to as an aristocracy.


  • EXAMPLE: Russia, Cuba (rather ironic examples, as communism was supposed to fight this very same form of government)


There are a few different types of oligarchy, including:


  • Aristocracy- A form of government in which the power is held by a small ruling class. The ruling class is a privileged section of society, and power is usually handed down hereditarily
  • Meritocracy- A form of government in which the power is held by people according to their individual achievement and merit, as opposed to their social status or wealth

Click here for a link to a video that makes the case that the United States is an oligarchy, not a democracy. 




   Coat of Arms of North Korea






A form of government where power is held by one person.


  • EXAMPLE: Modern totalitarianism (note: totalitarian governments are not autocracies by nature as some are ruled by a collective leadership), North Korea

Difference between totalitarian regime and dictatorship:

- Regime: wide focus on control of political, social, and cultural aspects of a society.

- Dictatorship: narrow focus on political control.


Link to Fascism and Totalitarianism





A form of government where power is held by a religious group, and where the law of the land is often dictated by the tenets of the religion in power. Theocracy has historically been a powerful force in the Middle East for centuries, manifesting itself most fully after the Arab Conquests and during the long-lasting Ottoman Empire.



Vladmir Putin & Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Vladmir Putin & Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

In Iran, Sharia law under a theocracy has had negative impacts on women's social and legal status. Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 women have made progress.


Click here for an article discussing the mistreatment of women in theocracies



The British Parliamentary Political System


360 Degree View of Parliament Square in London


The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom and British overseas territories.

Definition of a Parliamentary System

"British General Election Briefing," by Ben Schott in the The New York Times, April 18, 2010 (Week in Review, p. 11) makes the following points about British electoral system which is known as a parliamentary democracy.


  • In selecting Parliament, voters choose a candidate by handwriting a cross on ballot, the candidate with most votes wins a seat, and the party with the most seats forms the government.
    • Members of Parliament shifts according to population; 650 members.


  • England has 533 members; Scotland 59, Wales 40, and Northern Ireland 18.
    • Prime Ministers are chosen by the Monarch from members of Parliament. This is usually a formality as the Queen asks the leader of the party that has won the most votes to form a government.


  • Parliaments cannot exist for more than 5 years. There are no minimum electoral terms and Prime Ministers are free to call for an election at any time. However, the Prime Minister cannot call for an election, but must ask the monarch to dissolve Parliament.



    •  This video may help you understand some of the different forms of government.



    • This video can also help you to understand different world governments even more.

Link to online flash cards that review different types of government.


Is a Parliamentary Form of Government Better Than a Presidential Form of Government, from Debate.org


Click here for a link to a website that gives full transcripts of British Parliamentary meetings, sessions and debates, dating back to 1789


Click here for a biography on Constance Markievics, who was the first woman elected to British Parliament in the year 1918


  • Constance Markievicz, who was the first woman elected to British Parliament in the year 1918. Having grown up in Ireland and detesting the British’s rule of the Irish, Markievicz was thrown in jail for a plot against the British government.
  • While incarcerated, she was elected to the House of Commons as a representative of Dublin, but refused to swear an oath of allegiance to King George V, and thus never took her seat in parliament




A system of government where corrupt leaders exploit people and resources to enhance their personal wealth and power


 Click here for a YouTube video on Kleptocracy, describing its characteristics and some examples of current kleptocracies around the world




A system where society is controlled by people of great wealth.


Click here for a YouTube video breaking down what a plutocracy is, describing what they are and how they operate


The Country with the World's Worst Inequality is . . . 



Learning Activities


Click here for a lesson plan on researching different forms of governments from around the world.


Click here for a link to a google drive containing a lesson plan and activity for understanding different forms of government.



Types of Government a lesson plan on different types of government from the UK Parliament.



Click here for a fun Layers of Learning Game, in which kids learn about different forms of government

Click here for a lesson plan designed to teach students about different forms of government




Which of the following is a form of government in which a select few known as the "ruling class" holds all the political power?


A. Republic

B. Monarchy

C. Oligarchy

D. Theocracy


Answer: C


This form of government is held by a religious group, where laws are dictated by religious tenets. This form of government is popular in the Middle East.


A. Autocracy

B. Kleptocracy

C. Oligarchy

D. Theocracy

Answer: D



Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.