Forms Of Government And Their Characteristics

There are Different forms of government that governs each country. And society is nothing without any government. That is why a country needs to have a governing body. To ensure that the nation is abiding by the law, each country has adopted a system of government to make the government a reality.

And we have defined government as an institution of the state that makes and enforces laws that the citizens must abide by. However, in this article, we will be talking about the forms of government and their characteristics.

Forms Of Government

1. Presidential System Of Government

The president exercises sole execution authority. This means that he exercises both ceremonial and executive authority. He is the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. The buck stops on the President’s desk. Nigeria in the present dispensation practices this system.


Characteristics Of The Presidential System Of Government

1. The President Is An Executive Head Of State:

There is no power sharing between the president and any other authority. He exercises both ceremonial and executive authority.

2. The president stands for election for the office in his capacity not because of his political party, controls parliament, or is appointed.

3. He Selects His Ministers:

It is the sole responsibility of the president to appoint his ministers though the appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate. Where such an appointment is rejected, the president will still be required to make new nominations.

4. Choice Of Ministers:

The president is not duty-bound to choose his ministers from a particular political party. He can choose his Ministers/Aides from wherever he likes whether they are from a party that sponsored him or not.

5. There Is No Collective Responsibility:

The president is not only an executive head of state but his election is done on individual recognition. This means that the president is individually responsible for his actions. His impeachment does not lead to the collapse of his government.

6. There is separation of power.

7. The tenure of the President is spelled out in the Constitution. This means that the President is elected for a fixed time.

2. Cabinet/Parliamentary System Of Government

This is another form of government where power is shared between a ceremonial president and an executive prime minister. The prime minister sees to the day-to-day running of government while the President exercises such ceremonial authority as assenting bills.

Characteristics Of The Cabinet System Of Government

1. The entire cabinet is collectively responsible for the actions of the government. This principle makes it possible for the entire cabinet to fall through a vote of no confidence. The principal does not allow a serving member of the cabinet unless resigns.

2. The system recognizes an official opposition party in parliament. The only option left for a member of either government or opposition to change his party is through carpet crossing. The opposition party is the party that has minority seats in parliament.

3. Executive and ceremonial power is shared between the president and the Prime Minister.

4. There is no separation of power under this system as parliament exercises legislative, and judicial powers. And also the executive exercises executive and legislative powers.

5. Ministers are chosen mainly from the party in power or from a coalition that forms the ruling party.

6. The cabinet can easily be removed through the passage of a vote of no confidence in parliament.

Forms Of Government


3. Federal System Of Government

When listing the forms of government, the federal system of government usually comes third. However, this is a form of a decentralized system of government in which powers are not concentrated in a single central authority only but shared with component regions, States, and local units. This system involves devolution; delegation and decentralization of powers. Countries that operate this constitution have written and rigid constitutions.

Why Most States Adopt The Federal System Of Government

1. Cultural Differences:

The slogan here is unity in diversity. Even the ethnic group under this arrangement is built on different cultural backgrounds, there is a difference in language, customs, and dress. However, the need for a strong union makes them come together.

2. Economic Reason:

Each component unit is endowed with different natural resources but the need to be economically strong makes them pool their resources together for a more viable economy at the center.

3. Administrative Efficiency:

Most countries that operate this system are very large. If the administration is centralized, it will make the government too far from the people hence the decentration.

4. Fear Of Domination:

The minority tribes enjoy greater protection under this form of arrangement as it allows them to retain their identity.

5. Historical Reason:

The various tribes trace their origin to sources that may link them with people of the other component units, for this reason, they would want to stay together under a federal arrangement e.g. The Igbos, Hausas, and Yorubas.

6. Geographical Nearness:

The components units are so close to each other that their interest will be best serves under a federal arrangement.

Characteristics Of The Federal System Of Government

1. Power is not concentrated in a single authority but shared between the center and component units.

2. For fear of domination and abuse of power, the country operates a rigid constitution.

3. The Constitution is always supreme. Each level of government is subject to the provisions of the Constitution.

4. Whenever there is a conflict between the central government and the component units, the Supreme Court arbitrates in such conflicts.

5. The component units are allowed to develop at their own pace.

4. Unitary System Of Government

It is a system of government in which power is exercised from one source (the central government). There is concentration of power in the hands of the central government. Other levels of government may exist but they are merely for administrative convenience.

Characteristics Of Unitary System

1. There is no formal division of power between the central government and another level of government.

2. Most unitary states operate unwritten constitutions. This makes it easy for them to exercise greater control over the state.

3. The central government is always supreme.

These are the four major forms of government. Each country has its system governing them.

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