Types of Democracy
In multiparty democracies, government leaders are usually elected by the people. In the U.S., the two main parties are the Democrats and the Republicans. The Democrats stand for certain values and beliefs, while the Republicans stand for a different set of values and beliefs. People from both parties are typically elected. These elected officials must compromise and work together in spite of their differences. Maintaining a multiparty democracy takes a lot of patience and effort. It doesn’t work in every country.
• Constitutional Monarchy: A constitutional monarchy has an elected prime minister and officials, but the country also has a monarch who serves as a figurehead. The monarch doesn’t have military power and rarely makes government decisions.
• Federal Republic: In a federal republic, officials are elected, but individual states have great power. The national leaders oversee the republic as a whole.
• Presidential Republic: In a presidential republic, voters elect both the president and other government representatives. In some countries, the president runs the country and acts as the Head of State. In other countries, the president chooses a prime minister to take care of governmental affairs.
Only one party controls the government under this system. For example, the communist party was the only party allowed in eastern European countries for many years. These countries are now moving toward a multi-party democracy.
• Theocracy: A one-party state ruled by religious leaders. Leaders make rules based on their scriptures and beliefs. Muslim-ruled countries are examples of theocracies.
• One-Party Dominated State: Some countries may allow multiple parties, but one party has complete control.
This was the most common form of government for thousands of years. A monarch rules the country and makes the rules. When the monarch dies, control of the government passes to a son or daughter. Today, most monarchs have a panel of advisors.
Sometimes, the military seizes the government, removing a weak leader. The military takes over. Leaders are chosen from the military. No elections or parties are allowed.
An empire means that one country has power over several smaller countries. During the 19th century, England and other European countries developed empires when they took control of Africa, Asia, Australia and South America. Today, most of the countries in these areas have claimed their independence.
In a dictatorship, one person has absolute control. This leader often gains power through a military takeover. Dictators often rule harshly and allow no other voices to be heard.
Did you know that Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are dependents of the United States? They govern themselves for the most part, but the United States offers them protection and support. Over 10 million people around the world live in countries that are dependents of other countries. French Polynesia, for example, is a dependent of France, while the Cook Islands belong to New Zealand.