Forms and Foundations of Government

What is Government
• Government –
• The formal definition = The institution through
which a society makes and enforces its laws or
public policies.
• Informal definition – how a country operates
• Where does our government fit in compared
to other countries?
• What types of government powers are most
common? In our country we have THREE
separate powers….
• Legislative = Create laws
• Executive = Enforce or execute laws
• Judicial = Interpret and review laws
Forms of Government
• Before we can understand our government, we need
to know the different types of government
• Most countries operate under a Constitution
• Constitution = a written document that describes
the role of government
• UNITARY – a form of gov’t in which all the political
power is given to the CENTRAL (National) gov’t –
they do not have separate State/ Local gov’t
• The centralized government determines how much
power is given to state/local gov’t.
• This is the most common form of gov’t in the World
• Ex: Great Britain
Forms of Government
• Confederal (Confederate) – A form of gov’t in
which there is NO strong Central gov’t. The
political powers are divided loosely among
• This is a VERY weak form of government
• NO country today operates under a strictly
Confederate style government
• Ex: Civil War – Southern states succeeded and
became a confederation
Forms of Government
• Federal – a form of government in which the
political powers are divided among the Central
(National) gov’t and the State gov’t. The
Constitution gives the State gov’t powers that the
Central gov’t CANNOT take away!!!
• The States can establish their own Constitution &
gov’t – as long as it does not go against the
Central gov’t
• Ex: The United States
• U.S. was the first to use Federal Government
Recap Forms of Government
• Which form of gov’t gives the political powers to the
Central gov’t? The Central gov’t dictates how much
powers the lower gov’t can have.
• Which form of gov’t consists of a loose association of
states with no/weak Central gov’t?
• Which form of gov’t combines the other two types of
gov’t, and allows BOTH state and central powers to
exercise rights?
• We have a Federal Government – meaning we have a
National government and State/Local government that
work together. Both have their own guidelines or
• We are a Republic - meaning the ultimate political power
belongs to the PEOPLE!!!
• How are we a Republic?
• We use Democracy to carry out our Republican form of
government – allow people to represent or vote on leaders
– this is known as Representative Democracy – we vote on
people to represent our ideas!
• The U.S. Was the first country to establish this form of
government in 1787 under the U.S. Constitution
Why does it matter?
• Why does understanding different forms of
government concern you?
• As a good citizen it’s your responsibility to
understand how other cultures operate.
• Knowing how another country runs gives you a
better understanding
• The U.S. communicates with the rest of the
world---we are NOT isolated! Even though we are
our own country and no one tell us how to run
our government, we still have to maintain
peaceable relations with the rest of the world.
How gov’t is carried out
• Different countries have different leaders and
systems of carrying out government. We will
discuss the most common systems used to carry
out the THREE forms of gov’t – do not confuse
the method/system with the form of
• Parliamentary
• Presidential
• Monarchy
• Dictatorship
• Within each form a government, there are bodies to help carry out
• Parliamentary System –– One body shares the Leg and Exec powers
(sometimes judicial too). So, the same people who make laws also
enforce them
• Presidential System – Powers to execute laws are given to an
executive branch – other branches exist to make and uphold laws
SEPARATION OF POWERS – can be appointed or elected
• Monarchy – a king/queen/emperor have the political power.
• Constitutional Monarchy – king/queen/emperor is seen only as
figurehead and lack any real political power
• Dictatorship – When an authoritative / militaristic person occupies
political control of a country – does not listen to the will of the