This article gives a brief summary and additional/extra questions and answers of the chapter "Types or Classifications of Government" which is the second chapter of the Political Science and Economics textbook of Class 9 under the Board of Secondary Education, Assam (SEBA).
In ancient Greece, Plato was the first to classify the government into different types. After Plato, Aristotle was the one to classify the government according to the number of rulers and objectives of the governments. Leecock identifies the two main types of governments of the present time, namely dictatorship and democracy. The modern era, however, does not reflect that all states are governed with democratic principles. Several states of the world still operate under a tyrannical government, ruled by either an individual or a single political party. This style of government, however, is considered a dictatorship, while democratic societies are ruled by their people on their own behalf.
Democracies are based on the people. In the distant past, both Greece and Athens had direct democracy, where the people could directly participate in the government. Direct democracy is not found nowadays for various reasons.
In modern times, the people can participate in government functioning by electing their representatives, and such democracy is known as Indirect Democracy. Leecock has classified modern democracy into two types: limited Monarchy and Republic. Further, he characterized the two forms of government as Unitary and Federal government. Likewise, the two types of government have been further classified as the Parliamentary and Presidential forms.
The Parliamentary form of government
Parliamentary government is the most popular and revered type of government today. It is named a Parliamentary government because of its relationship between the executive and the legislature. It first came into being in England.
Parliamentary system's main characteristics
i. Two heads control this system. One is the nominal head and the other is the true leader. The Council of Ministers under the leadership of the Prime minister is the real leader, and the head of the state such as the President, King, or Queen is the nominal leader.
ii. In this type of government, the members of the executive or the Council of Ministers are also members of the legislature.
iii. A close relationship exists between the legislature and the executive.
iv. The Parliamentary form of government has the executive responsible for their every action. The Council of Ministers is obliged to resign if the House passes a Resolution of No Confidence.
The merits of the Parliamentary form of government
i. Under Parliamentary government, there is mutual understanding and good cooperation between the executive and the legislature. Any difficulty can be solved by using laws.
ii. Government cannot act against the interests of the people because the executive remains responsible to the legislature.
iii. Under parliamentary government the executive or council of ministers are prohibited from acting in a dictatorial manner. If the ruling party or the government choose to act in a dictatorial manner, they can be removed from power by a no-confidence motion by the legislature.
The demerits of the Parliamentary government
i. In this type of government if no political party can form a government by obtaining an absolute majority, in that case, there is the possibility of forming an Alliance government which may prove to be quite temporary in nature resulting in a subsequent political crisis in the government.
ii. The ministers of the Parliamentary government are generally found to be inexperienced in departmental activities and as such, they become highly dependent on the bureaucrats. Therefore, the influence of the bureaucrat increase in the day to day functioning of the government and it assumes the nature of bureaucratic government,
iii. There is no system of separation of power in the Parliamentary form of government and therefore the council of ministers is invested with both the executive and the legislative powers. As a result, there is the possibility that the council of ministers may let loose a tyrannical rule.
The Presidential form of government
President-centred governments are those in which both the executive and the legislative branches are independent of each other, independent to their own spheres, and the executive is not responsible to the legislative branch. We call such a government a Presidential form of government. Presently, the United States of America is a good example of a presidential form of government.
Main characteristics of a Presidential government
i. There are no two heads of state like in the Parliamentary system. The President is both head of state and head of government.
ii. Unlike the Parliamentary form of government, the executive is not responsible to the legislature in the Presidential form of government. Both the legislative and executive branches of government are separate from one another. In contrast to the Parliamentary form of government, the members of the executive can't be members of the legislature.
iii. Presidents in presidential models of government serve a fixed tenure. They cannot be removed for any reason during their tenure except when an impeachment proposal is passed against them for constitutional violations while discharging their official duties. In reality, however, the whole process of impeachment is very difficult and complex.
iv. The Presidential form of government's legislature cannot be dissolved for any reason before its fixed period of time expires. Not even the President has that authority since no such vested power exists in him.
The merits of the Presidential form of government
i. The presidential form of government is permanent in nature, since the President, who is the Head of the state and the government, is elected for a fixed term and is not easily removable. Even the legislature has its own fixed term.
ii. Separation of powers gives all three governmental organs the opportunity to function independently. Additionally, this also prevents anyone government organ from being autocratic due to the practice of Checks and Balance.
iii. As the actual power of the government is in the hands of the President, any decision can be taken sharply in emergency situations without having to face any obstacles.
The demerits of the Presidential form of government
i. Typically, in Presidential systems of government the legislature doesn't have the ability to control the executive (President), leading to fears that the President will become an autocrat.
ii. It is not possible for the executive and the legislature to cooperate because they are separated in the Presidential form of government on the basis of the separation of powers.
iii. Due to the rigidity of the Constitution, it's difficult to amend it regardless of the need.
iv. In the Presidential system of government, if those elected to the executive and to the legislature are from differing political parties, there may be a greater probability of political conflict.
The Unitary form of government
There are two types of government in terms of the centralization and distribution of state power: the unitary government and the federal government. The unitary form of government is inherently one in which state power is centralized at the hands of the central government and the state is governed from the centre itself. Some administrative units in such a government do exist, but these units are not constitutional, and these units are directly under the control of the central government. The unitary government system is seen in the UK, France, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands etc.
Characteristics of the Unitary form of government
i. In the unitary form of government, all state powers are assigned to the central government, making the central government all-powerful.
ii. In the unitary form of government the constitution may either be written or unwritten, for example, the constitution of the United Kingdom is written, while the same in the Netherlands is unwritten.
iii. Unitary government has only one form of citizenship, single citizenship. Its citizens cannot have dual citizenship, unlike the government of the Federal type.
The merits of the Unitary form of government
i. A unitary form of government governs the whole state under the same laws, so the administration system is very effective and strong. No complexities are experienced.
ii. Since the central government administers the whole state, it is responsible for any flaws. The local administrative units cannot hold the central government responsible for any flaws committed by the central government.
iii. Because the cost of running government machinery is comparatively lower than that of other types of government, there is more money available for the development of the state.
The demerits of the Unitary form of government
i. An extremely large country is unsuitable for a unitary form of government.
ii. Because the people receive no opportunity to participate actively in the management of the state, they lack political activeness.
iii. This form of government is more bureaucratic, and in fact, the bureaucrats run its administration.
The Federal form of government
The completely opposite type of government to the Unitary form of government is the Federal type of government. In this 'type of government along with the central government there exist a provincial government of the constituent provinces. An ideal example of such a federal type of government is the United States of America (USA). In fact, the first-ever federal government was born in the USA for which the USA is regarded as the Homeland of Federation.
The characteristics of the Federal government
i. Decentralization of power between the federated governments and their constituent republics is one of the foremost characteristics of the federal government.
ii. In the federal government, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches are completely independent within their own spheres. They are not substitutes for one another.
iii. As the constitution of a federal government is written and rigid in nature, the process of amending it is also very difficult.
The merits of the federal type of government
i. Federal type of government allows each constituent province to have autonomy for self-rule while remaining a member of one gigantic powerful state. Thus, both national unity and regional self-rule are sustained.
ii. This type of government is ideal for a big state inhabited by people belonging to different religions, castes, communities, and linguistic groups.
The demerits of the federal type of government
i. The central and provincial governments can clash with each other because of the decentralization of powers within the federal model of government.
ii. The balance of powers with the federal system has become increasingly difficult due to the rise of regionalism in the federal form of government, weakening the federal system.
Additional/extra questions and answers/solutions
1. Who initiated the types or classifications of government?
Answer: Greek philosopher Plato initiated the types or classifications of the government.
2. Who classified governments after Plato?
Answer: After Plato, it was his disciple Aristotle who classified the government into several types.
3. How did Plato and Aristotle classified governments?
Answer: Plato and Aristotle classified the government on the basis of the number of rulers and the objectives of the government. It was named Monarchy when a single ruler ruled for the welfare of the common people, it was named Aristocracy when a few people ruled and it was known as Polity when many people ruled or it was the rule of the public. If a single ruler governs against the interest of the common people it is known as Tyranny. It was known as Oligarchy when a few people ruled and it was Democracy when governed by many people.
4. Mention the different types or classifications of government according to Leecock?
Answer: According to Leecock, the different types or classifications of government of the present time are Dictatorship and Democracy.
5. Distinguish between Democracy and Dictatorship.
Answer: In some of the states there exist tyrannical rule either of one individual or a single political party. Such a government is regarded as the Dictatorship. On the other hand, democracy is a type of government where a country is ruled by the people for the welfare of the people themselves.
6. What are the different types or classifications of government in a democracy according to Leecock?
Answer: Leecock classified the modem democracy into two types, limited Monarchy, and the Republic. Further, he classified them into two more types namely the Unitary and the Federal. Again the Unitary and the Federal government has been further classified into two types namely, the Parliamentary and the Presidential form of government.
7. What are the different democratic form of government?
Answer: The democratic form of government has been classified into four types namely, the Unitary, the Federal, the Parliamentary, and the Presidential.
8. What is the most popular form of government? Where it came into being?
Answer: The Parliamentary form of government has been the most popular and revered one at present. It has been named as the Parliamentary form of government on the basis of the. relationship between the executive and the legislature. This type of government first came into being in England.
9. What do you mean by Unitary form of government?
Answer: In such a government in which the state power is centralized at the hands of the central government and the whole state is governed from the centre itself is regarded as the Unitary form of government. Such Unitary form of government is found in Britain, France, Japan, Italy, Netherlands, etc.
10. What do you understand by the Federal form of government?
Answer: In the Federal form of government along with the central government there exist a provincial government of the constituent provinces. Example: the United States of America (USA).