A political regime is a set of political structures that make up a state. These political systems range from direct democracies to totalitarian regimes, such as military dictatorships. Common systems in the modern world include democratic republics, monarchies, and representative democracies. There are also primarily theoretical types of governments, like a strict meritocracy.
One of the most often-talked about political system is a representative democracy. This is a system in which representatives are directly elected by the citizens, and these representatives then make political decisions for the people, with the assumption that their decisions will reflect the general will of the republic. This can be compared to a direct democracy, in which the citizens directly vote on all issues of importance.
The republic is one of the most common systems of government in the world, although it takes many different forms. For instance, a republic can be associated with a religion, as in the case of an Islamic republic; an economic system, as in a socialist republic; or a political procedure, like a parliamentary republic. A number of republics try to show the fact that they are actually made up of smaller, semi-autonomous parts. The United States of America, for example, says very clearly that its political regime is that of a group of united state entities. Both Nigeria and Germany also convey this idea by calling themselves federal republics.
Republics are often denoted in the official name of the state, and often include a modifier to convey some sort of philosophical ideal the political regime holds. For example, Guyana is known as a the Co-Operative Republic of Guyana, Sri Lanka is known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and mainland China is known as a People’s Republic of China. The actual governmental system in these countries can vary: for instance, China is a Marxist-Leninist single party state, not a republic. This type of government can also go the other way, with several republics being part of one state, like countries in the former Soviet Union.
Dynastic systems of government consist of all the leaders of the country coming from one family. Common types of this government include monarchies, emirates, and dynastic empires, like that of Imperial China. In modern times, the leaders of many monarchies and emirates serve primarily as figureheads. This type of government is called a constitutional monarchy or nominal monarchy, and includes countries like the United Kingdom. The opposite of this is an absolute monarchy, in which the ruler has total power to govern the state, and is not subject to control from a constitution or parliament. Examples of modern absolute monarchies include Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Authoritarian and Totalitarian Regimes
In authoritarian and totalitarian political regimes, one person, entity, or party has complete control over the affairs of the state, without the input or consent of the population. In totalitarian regimes specifically, this leader attempts to control all aspects of a society, including things like the personal beliefs and morals of the population. These are sometimes accompanied by a cult of personality around the leader or leaders, as in the case of Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany. Common forms of authoritarian or totalitarian regimes include military juntas, in which a small committee of military leaders rules the country or a single-party state, in which only one political party is in power and others are either outrightly or tacitly not allowed to challenge that authority. Another form is a dictatorship, in which one person rules the country without being accountable to anyone and then passes his or her powers on to another person upon death.
Rare or Archaic Systems
Some systems are leftovers from a bygone age. Luxembourg, for example, is officially known as a grand duchy, dating back to a time when it was a part of the Netherlands as a Dutch dominion. Another type of archaic system is a kritarchy, or a rule by judges; and a timocracy, or country in which only people who own land can be active in governing. Other types of governments are rare in the modern world, but still exist in pockets. Theocracies, for example, such as the government of Tibet in exile, or of Vatican City, where a religious figure is also granted secular power of the government.
There are a number of types of political regime that exist more in theory than anywhere in the world. One example of this is a strict meritocracy, for example, where leaders are chosen based on their ability to lead. Other theoretical systems include a corporatocracy, a popular theme in science fiction, in which corporations rule their own sovereign states; and a geniocracy, in which leaders are selected based on their problem-solving abilities and creativity.