A government is a political body or team of people ruling over a geographically organized society, usually a country. Governments at different levels are found at the local, regional and national levels. Historically, there have been many types of governments. Some have lasted longer than others, but all have taken their turn in government, either through absolute rule or constitutional monarchial rule. The most recent model for a government was a democracy, but this model has changed over time.
A central government must have power to protect the rights of the people and facilitate economic growth by providing public services. It also ensures fair taxation and reasonable defense. A country’s central government functions through its political system, which consists of a constitution, a legislative body, and judicial branch. In most modern countries, the country’s government must elect or appoint the members of the legislature from amongst its population through a plebiscite. The system of checks and balances ensures that there are a check and balance in the performance of the executive and the courts.
A democracy has many components. There is a separation of powers in both chambers of the legislature and the executive. The executive branch may be partly ruled by the legislature through a system of checks and balances, while the courts are made up of three branches: a high court, the supreme court and the probate court. In some countries, a consultative process may be used to allow the elected leaders to ask a question and receive answers from the people. A representative from each of the political parties may attend the sessions of the legislature as an opposition member.
No single body controls a democracy. Although the legislature may appoint some of its members, there are many people who cannot be appointed because of their race, gender, religion, or other factors. Without this form of proportional election, the governing party may gain power without a majority of votes. As a result, there are often coalitions between various parties, which do not always cooperate. A form of indirect democracy is used in many countries where one-party rule is undesirable; a new constitution is drafted that takes into account the interests of all citizens.
The term “limited government” refers to a government with few fundamental constraints on its actions. It is a government that can set its own taxes, spend its money, and regulate its natural resources. A limited government has less influence over its citizenry than does a democracy, and there are fewer restrictions on the freedoms of its citizens. Limited government also tends to be more efficient, having lower corruption rates than a democracy. Hong Kong enjoys a limited government because the territory was returned to China in the handover agreement of July 1997.
Hong Kong enjoys limited economic freedom since its return to China in the handover agreement. It enjoys relatively high levels of freedom, although the degree of economic freedom varies across the different regions of the island. Hong Kong enjoys a relatively free economy because trade is largely with China, there are few trade barriers, and the central government restricts entry into the country for goods originating outside of China. The basic economic freedoms that define a free economy in the United States are not available in Hong Kong.