Rule by an upper class.
A legislature that comprises two
parts or chambers. The USA Congress is a bicameral legislature; its two
chambers are the House of Representatives and the Senate. Compare with
An economic system in which the means of production
and distribution are mainly in private ownership for private gain at the
expense of the non-owners. Mechanisms include free markets and freedom of
Checks and Balances
A principle of a system of government whereby each
branch of the government can check the actions of the others. As originally conceived,
this was true of the government of the USA.
Powers held jointly by the national and state
A league of independent states, each having
essentially sovereign powers. The central government created by such a league
has only limited powers over the states.
A voluntary association of states; usually limits
central authority to foreign affairs and is less permanent than a federation. A
political system where states or regional governments retain ultimate
authority, except for powers expressly delegated to a central government.
The fundamental law of a nation.
Defines the power of the government; specifies offices and their authority.
Consent of the People
and laws are legitimate implicitly from the consent of those governed.
A republic in which the
representatives elected by the people make and enforce laws and policies.
Transfer of powers from the
national or central government to state or local government. This happened in
the United Kingdom in the late twentieth century.
A system of government where
political decisions are made by the people directly, rather than by their
Values, customs, and language of
the group(s) that control politics and government in a society.
A system of government where
power is divided between a central government and regional, or subdivisional,
governments. Each of those levels has a domain where its policies are dominant.
And each has political or constitutional guarantee of authority.
A political system in which
authority is shared between a central government and a state or regional
An association of states; usually more permanent
than a confederation. A political system where states or regional governments
retain ultimate authority, except for powers expressly delegated to a central
That part of government primarily responsible for
Acceptance by the citizens of the right and power
of a government or ruler to exercise authority.
Democratic government that provides for the
protection of individual human rights, in order to prevent a majority from
oppressing a minority.
Advocacy of positive government action to improve
the welfare of individuals, support for civil rights, and tolerance for
political and social change.
A government whose powers are limited, particularly
by institutional checks.
Representative democracy where political power is
vested in an elected legislature. Used in most European countries.
Representative democracy where
political power is vested in separately elected and appointed branches of
national government. This system is used in the USA.
A form of
government in which representatives are elected by the people to make and
enforce laws and policies. Political decisions are made by the officials
elected by the people. [Some such democracies retain a monarchy in a ceremonial
A form of government in which sovereignty rests
with the people (or a portion of the people), as opposed to a king or monarch
or dictator. This form of Representative Democracy was created by the framers
of the US constituion.
Separation of Powers
The division of governmental functions and powers
among different branches of government, so that the various self-interests of
each group would moderate those of the others.
Theocracy. [From Greek theos = god and krateein = to rule.]
Rule by a god, which in practice means rule by a
priesthood. No separation of church and state. Compare with aristocracy.
A regime of command by the
government and obedience by the citizens. The regime controls all aspects of
political and social life (as in George Orwell’s 1984) . In contrast with an
authoritarian state, all social and economic institutions are under government
A legislature that comprises a
single part or chamber. In the USA (early 21st century) only the state of
Nebraska has a unicameral legislature. Compare with bicameral legislature.
A centralized governmenta system
where local or regional governments exercise only the powers that the central
government gives them.
Universal Suffrage. [From Latin suffragium = voting tablet, vote.] The
right and privilege of all adults to vote for their representatives.