The Different Types of Government


The word government comes from the Latin gubernator, which means “to govern” or “to rule.” Governments have always played an important role in society. They are responsible for making laws and providing services that people need, like education and health care. Governments are also responsible for protecting property and preventing crime. They can be local, regional, national or global in scope. The main types of government recognized by modern classification systems are democracies, totalitarian regimes and authoritarian regimes, but there are many other forms that have existed throughout history.

The most common function of government is to make laws and enforce them. There are many ways to do this, including by electing a group of people to represent the community in a legislative branch and using a system of checks and balances to ensure that each branch has limited power.

Another function of governments is to provide certain kinds of goods and services that people need but which the market cannot supply in enough quantity or at low enough costs to satisfy all of the people who want them. These are called public goods, and examples include national defense, clean air, clean water and educational opportunities. Governments can pay for these goods by collecting taxes or borrowing money. Governments can also redistribute income by taxing some groups of people more heavily than others, which helps to ensure that those who need the most benefits receive them.

People have different views about what kind of government is best. Some believe that it should be small and leave the private sector to run things on its own. This view is sometimes called libertarianism. Other people think that government should protect the rights of individuals and provide services for everyone, including the poor. This view is sometimes called socialism or communism.

A good example of the debate about what kind of government is right for a country is seen in the United States. Congress, the lawmaking branch of our federal government, is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Bills are introduced in either chamber, and a committee is formed to research and discuss them. Then the bill goes to that chamber’s members for a vote. If a majority of the members approve it, the president signs it into law. If the president vetoes the bill, both houses must pass it again with a two-thirds majority to override the president’s veto.

At the local level, governments are responsible for maintaining roads and bridges, providing police and fire protection and managing parks and wildlife areas. They also allocate money for things that benefit local communities, such as schools, hospitals and universities. The central government at the national level is responsible for funding defense, Social Security and pensions for veterans, maintenance of courts and prisons and a variety of other issues. In addition, it is responsible for setting national priorities and allocating funds to various programs at the state and local levels.