What Are the Characteristics of Government?

A government is a group or body of people, usually an established nation, governing a territory. It is headed by a president, prime minister, members of the legislature or the boards of power, who exercise authority for the nation. The constitution and laws of a country are decided by the elected leaders of the country. All representatives of the country are also elected for a general election at regular intervals.

There are many countries around the world that practice democracy. In many countries, the governments are elected for a fixed term based on the results of an election. Other nations practice proportional representation in which each party wins a seat in the parliament based on its performance in the previous election. In many cases, a single party controls all the major aspects of the economy.

For those who are familiar with constitutional systems, a government may be divided into various parts or organs. The organs include: the national government, the national legislature, the provincial and local governments, the courts, and the independent institutions such as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). No government may interfere with the freedom of citizens to choose freely and hold free political parties. Any changes in the constitution and laws are debated and approved by a multiparty election that provides a guarantee for majority rule.

The differences between democracy and autocracy are fairly obvious. In the case of democracy, representatives are selected by the citizens for a specific term. Elected officials are subject to recall after they have served their terms. Representative government is transparent in that the government officials are regularly elected and replaced by another for different positions in the future. Under an autocratic government, the leaders may choose whoever they want to lead the country.

The major difference between democracy and autocracy is that the first type is not structured in the same way that the latter does. In a constitutional monarchy, the ruler can change the constitution at any time. Elected officials are loyal to the leader and do not question or challenge their decisions. Unlike democracy, the government must answer to the people through a legislative body, which is chosen by the legislature and cannot be dismissed by the ruler. For a constitutional monarchy, there is an election every four years and a General Election every two years.

A hybrid model is a combination of both democracy and autocracy. Hybrid models differ from traditional constitutional monarchies in that they allow some checks and balances to protect the interests of the demos, but severely limit the powers of the rulers. The leaders still have most of the executive powers and are answerable to the constitution, but are only supreme in regards to their powers of war and finance. They can also appoint a consultative council, but cannot be impeached or dismissed by the elected House of Representatives or Senate. They are still bound by the constitution though.