The Basics of Government


Government is the system by which a country or community is administered and regulated. It consists of three branches: the legislative, executive and judicial, which oversee particular functions of national leadership as outlined in the Constitution. These are meant to ensure that no one sector of society dominates the nation and that all powers are subject to checks and balances.

The main function of government is to provide services that cannot be provided efficiently or at a low enough cost by the private sector, such as national security and education. The fact that governments can tax people and draw on the resources of an entire country makes them uniquely capable of providing such goods to the population. In addition, government can use force to enforce its policies or impose sanctions on its citizens.

There are several ways to organize a government and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. One way to structure a government is as a republic, which has a central law-making body, such as Congress, with its constituent states acting as its legislative branch and other regions acting as its territorial branch. Another form of government is a federation, which has a central law-making authority but allows individual states or provinces to legislate and govern on their own, within the bounds of federal laws.

A third way to organize a government is as an autocracy, where the power of the state is concentrated in the hands of one person, such as a dictator or monarch. The disadvantage of this form of government is that it does not guarantee democracy or the rule of law. Autocracies do not allow the right of free speech or the freedom of assembly, and they limit the rights of women, minorities and foreigners.

Most modern governments are democratic republics with a central law-making body. Increasingly, they are also a federation, with regional or local governments having their own powers and responsibilities governed by the central law-making body. This is the case with many European countries, such as Spain and Portugal, as well as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The United States is a constitutional democracy with a bicameral Congress and an executive branch headed by a President. The United States also has a federal court system. Unlike private companies, which can go out of business, government institutions can continue to operate and even take on new forms of operation over time. This gives government workers a degree of job security that is not available to private sector employees.

The most important function of a democratic government is the free and fair election of its representatives and a separation of powers. Moreover, democracy is an institution that requires competing political parties to exist. A democracy is a representative democracy, meaning that it represents the interests of all its citizens.