Political System Facts

  • Democracies are countries with governments elected every few years by popular vote.
  • Most democracies have a constitution, a written set of laws saying how a government must be run.
  • Democracies like France are republics. This means the head of state is an elected president. In some republics like the USA, the president is in charge; in others, the president is a figurehead and the country is run by a chancellor or prime minister.
  • Monarchies are countries which still have a king or queen — like Britain. But their power is usually limited and the country is run by an elected government.
  • In autocracies a single person or small group of people holds all power, as in China and North Korea.
  • Most governments are split into the legislature who make or amend laws, the executive who puts them into effect and the judiciary who see they are applied fairly.
  • Most countries are capitalist, which means most things capital — are owned by individuals or small groups.
  • A few countries like Cuba are communist, which means everything is owned by the community, or the state.
  • Socialists believe the government should ensure everyone has equal rights, a fair share of money, and good health, education and housing.
  • Fascists believe in rigid discipline and that they and their country are superior to others, like Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s. There is no openly fascist country at present.