Types of Government

FL Standards Covered:
SS.7.C.3.1 Compare different forms of government (direct democracy, representative democracy, socialism, communism, monarchy, oligarchy, autocracy).
SS.7.C.3.2 Compare parliamentary, federal, confederal, and unitary systems of government.

Learning Goals:
We will understand that there are different forms of government.
We will compare the different forms of government: direct democracy, representative democracy, socialism, communism, monarchy, oligarchy, autocracy.
We will compare the different systems of government: parliamentary, federal, confederal, and unitary.

Textbook pages (additional [at home] reading as needed):
Chapter 3, Lesson 4 p.70-77

Key Terms: government, democracy, direct democracy, representative democracy, republic, parliamentary, dictatorship, authoritarian, totalitarian, oligarchy, monarchy, absolute monarchy, anarchy, autocracy, communism, socialism, political state, federal system, unitary system, confederate system, confederal, governor, president, prime minister, ideology, public policy, majority rule, regime

Questions to be able to answer:
What are the different types of government? Define each.
What are the different systems of government?  Define each.
What type of government do we have in the Unites States?
Which types of government are autocratic?
Which types of government have ‘leader power’?
Which types of government have ‘people power’?
What is another term for representative democracy?
Which system of government is the U.S.?
In which systems of government does the central government hold most of the power?
In which system of government do individual states hold the power, while the central government is weak?
In which system of government is power layered?

Links for further reading and exploration of the concept:
(To clarify, these links provide curious students with more information.  More information can help us understand a topic better.  These links are not intended to be memorized for our test.)

Reading from class:

Distribution of Power

Effective government in any form requires a method for distributing authority, or power, within the country.

Federal Systems. The larger and more diverse a country is, there is often a tendency for the country to have a federal system in which power is “layered” or distributed among different levels.  The United States is an example of governments with a federal system. The central government is led by a president and there are also state governments. In the United States, for example, state governments are lead by governors. The state legislatures pass laws having to do with state affairs; state administrators carry them out; and state judiciaries interpret them.

Federal systems also include autonomous, or independent, local governments such as county governments and municipal governments – in cities, boroughs, townships, and villages. The citizens in each jurisdiction elect many of the public officials. In addition, certain special districts exist with a single function, such as education, and have their own elected officials.

Unitary Systems. In countries with a relatively homogeneous, or similar, population and with a common tradition, language, and sense of national history, the central governments may not be federal but unitary – that is, they may retain most of the power at the center. In unitary countries the national government performs all the governmental functions. Local governments within this system administer matters within their jurisdiction, or area, but their powers are determined and delegated, or assigned, by the national government. The national government retains the ability to tax and major lawmaking powers rest almost entirely with the national government.

Parliamentary Systems. In countries where the power of government lies with the legislative body and the leader of the country is part of the legislature, the citizens elect political leaders indirectly through political parties.  In these types of elections, citizens express their party preference, and the party chooses who will represent that party in the government.  In parliamentary systems, the percentage of the vote received by any party determines whether, and how much, representation that party will have in the legislature.  In Israel, for example, any political party that earns at least 2% of the vote will earn at least one seat in Israel’s national legislature (the Knesset).  Some parliamentary systems elect their prime minister (head of government) through election by the legislature whereas other parliamentary systems employ direct election of the prime minister.   

Confederations. Loosely allied independent states sometimes join together to create a type of central government known as a confederation, in which the central government exists only at the pleasure of the sovereign, or independent, members. A confederation system produces the weakest central government. Member states in a confederation maintain their own individual power and delegate to the central government only those powers that are essential for its maintenance. The individual states or countries making up the confederations have the power to tax and make their own laws. The central government serves as a coordinator to protect the interests of all its members. It also represents the confederation in dealings with outside governments, but its actions are subject to the review and approval of the confederated states.

No modern nation-state is organized along confederate lines, yet some international organizations, such as the United Nations (UN) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) function primarily as confederations.

Adapted from: http://www.scholastic.com/browse/subarticle.jsp?id=1697

Homework Links: