Forms of Government meaning (Full details)

In this article, we shall look at the different types or forms of government. Every system of government has it own peculiar features.

IMPORTANT: Types, Forms and Systems of government can be used interchangeably in this article.

Different countries run different kinds of government, the kind that suits them. However, it is the Constitution of a country that stipulates the kind of government a country adopts.

The efficiency of a country also depends on the government. Suppose the kind of government a country adopts is such that favours them. In that case, there will be efficiency in almost everything in the country. But if the type of government they adopted is not favorable, they are bound to suffer.

The type of constitution a country adopts also determines how the branches of government share powered. It also determines how powers are shared between the levels of government. Power could be shared between the federal government and the subordinating units or all powers could concentrate on the federal government. Powers could also be shared so that the subordinating units are more powerful than the federal government. It all depends on the form of government the country adopts.

Forms of government and Meanings

Here, we shall see the meaning of each system of government and a brief explanation.

Unitary System of government

This system of government exists in a country where all powers are in the hands of the Federal government. In other words, powers and functions of the government are in the hands of one level of government.

There are other relevant authorities such as the local government authority. But they only act when the central government delegates powers to them.  

A unitary system of government is a type of government where all governmental powers are in the hands of the central government, who delegates powers to the subordinating units to act.

Once the local government or any other authority finishes its obligation as to why the power was delegated to him, his powers expires.

Britain is an example of a country that runs a Unitary system of government. The central government in Britain sits in London. It can legislate on any matter.

Other examples include Ghana, Kenya, France, Italy and Belgium.

One significant feature of Unitary government is that it works efficiently in a small Country.

Confederal system of government

The confederal system of government is a type of government where sovereign States delete powers to the central government for s specific purposes. In other words, the confederating units are more powerful than the central government.

It exists when two or more States come together to have a loose Union. They may have a common foreign policy, currency and common custom duties. However, each state maintains its military forces, autonomy, and sovereignty.

The major problem with the confederal system of government is that the sovereign States can break off at anytime.

Federal system of government

The federal government is one of the types of government in which powers are shared between the federal government and the subordinating units. In other words, the federal government and other levels of government share powers.

Here, the Constitution gives functions to each of the tiers of government. The exclusive list contains the powers and functions of the federal government. The concurrent list contains the joint functions of both the federal and state government. While the residual list contains the powers of the state government. None of the levels of government interferes with the functions of the other.

The need for federal system of government arises when a state becomes too large. Unitary government is good in a small Country. In contrast, the federal government is good in a large country to reach those in the grassroots.

Presidential system of government

The presidential system is a kind of government where Executive powers are in the hands of the president. For this reason, he is also called the head of State and head of government. He is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

The President is the head of the Executive arm of government. He also has the power to appoint and remove Ministers, Judges, public officers and so on.

Read more about the executive branch of government including powers and limitations.

Examples of countries with a presidential system of government are America and Nigeria. Nigeria first adopted the system in 1979 under Shehu Shagari.

Monarchical system of government

If the head of a State is a King or Queen, we say that such government is monarchical.

This is one of the types of government in which power is hereditary. When a king or Queen dies, power continues in his lineage. In that, a member of his family or their offspring takes over the rulership.

Monarchies were common in ancient times. But, nowadays, civilization has taken over, and every country elects its leaders. Democracy is the order of the day.

Parliamentary system of government

This is the opposite of the presidential form of government. The parliamentary system allows powers to be shared between two persons. One serves as the head of State while the other serves as head of government.

It can also be called Cabinet System of government. The best example of country that runs this kind of government is Britain. Many other countries took after Britain with little modifications.

In the parliamentary system, the head of government differs from the head of State. The Prime Minister is the head of government and performs the executive functions. While the Queen or King is the head of State and performs ceremonial functions.

During the regime of Alhaji Tafawa Belewa, Nigeria practiced the parliamentary system of government.

Which one is the best type of government

The best type of government depends on the country and its population. It also depends on the kind of Constitution they have.

The best type of government in a homogeneous State (small country) is a Unitary system. But in the heterogeneous state, the best type of government is federal government.

The heterogeneous factor is one of the reasons Nigeria adopted a presidential type of government. Nigeria is a vast country and the government needs to get to the grassroots. So, there’s a need to have the federal, State and local government levels.

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