Government: the system or form by which a community is ruled

Government comes in many forms.  What follows is a brief discussion of some commonly known forms of government.

Although this background information is helpful, your ability to comprehend the essentials—Main Idea, Detail, Inference—from what you are given to read is more important for answering questions than tapping into an encyclopedic memory.


Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens actively participate in politics and civic life; choose and replace the government through free and fair elections; directly or indirectly (through elected representatives) propose, develop, and create laws; and function under an equally-applied rule of law.

Democracy also protects the human rights of all citizens.

A republic is form of democracy in which a country is governed by an elected leader (such as a president) rather than by a king or queen.

The United States is both a republic and a democracy.

Monarchy is a form of government in which the position of leadership and power in a country is passed by inheritance from one generation to the next within a royal family.

The leader of a monarchy can be called a king, queen, emperor, empress, etc.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy.

Constitutional Monarchy

A Constitutional Monarchy is a form of government in which the power of a royal family is limited by a constitution.  While the royal family fills the role of a powerless figurehead, the government itself is granted power through democratic elections.

Denmark is a constitutional monarchy.

Fascism is a form of government in which leadership is placed in the hands of a dominant figure who stresses national over individual identity, conformity over nonconformity, and suppression of opposition over inclusion of opposing views.

During World War II, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler headed fascist governments in Italy and Germany, respectively.

Socialism and Communism are closely related governmental, economic systems.

Paraphrasing Karl Marx, socialism is a system in which there is limited or no private property; a large working/labor class replaces the ownership and operation of all industry by a small capitalist/management class; and governmental authority is spread cooperatively and communally among the people (most of whom are working class).

Again paraphrasing Karl Marx, communism is a pure form of socialism characterized by a stateless, classless, moneyless society in which all citizens work together communally without the need for an official government.

Over the course of history, socialist/communist countries have found it difficult to function without some sort of central leadership and government.

Cuba and China are socialist/communist nations.

Theocracy is a form of government ruled by a divinely-guided religious authority.

The Vatican (Pope) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (Ayatollah) are theocracies.

Other Governments
A partial list of other forms of government includes dictatorships, oligarchies, and welfare states.

An anarchy is a government-less society.

Winston Churchill – The Politician

1  “Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous.  In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.”

2  Winston Churchill would serve in Great Britain’s Parliament for fifty-five years.  His deep sense of commitment to his country would be honored when on April 24, 1953, Britain’s monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, appointed him a Knight of the Garter.

3  Winston Churchill’s long political career began in October 1900, when he was elected to take the seat for Oldham as Member of Parliament or MP in the House of Commons.  Later, Churchill represented, as MP, the areas of Manchester Northwest (1906-08); Dundee (1908-22); and Woodford (1924-64).

4  Between 1906 and 1940, Churchill served in the British Cabinet in charge of Board and Trade, Home Office, Admiralty (twice), and the Munitions, War and Air Ministries.  From 1924 to 1929 he headed the Treasury as Chancellor of the Exchequer, a position once held by his father.

5  Winston Churchill is forever remembered for his contributions as Prime Minister (PM) during World War II.  On May 10, 1940, with the Germans attacking western Europe, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned and King George VI asked Churchill to become Prime Minister and form a government.  Churchill formed a coalition with the Labour, Liberal and Conservative parties.  He later wrote, “I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”  Developing the “Grand Alliance” with Russia and America, he became a symbol of victory on behalf of oppressed and conquered peoples.  In 1945, with the war in Europe won but the war with Japan still being fought, the Labour party defeated the Conservatives in an election.  Churchill was no longer Prime Minister.  However, he was easily reelected to his seat and became Leader of the Opposition.

Practice – Questions
1.  Which of the following can you infer from this passage?
A.  During World War II, Winston Churchill led a monarchy.
B.  During World War II, Winston Churchill led a republic.
C.  During World War II, Winston Churchill led a theocracy.
D.  During World War II, Winston Churchill led a constitutional monarchy.

2.  What is the main idea of this passage?
A.  Winston Churchill didn’t give a hoot.
B.  Winston Churchill never won an election.
C.  Winston Churchill dedicated his life to government service.
D.  Winston Churchill thought little of government.

3.  Winston Churchill would serve in Great Britain’s Parliament for:
A.  fifty years
B.  fifty-five years
C.  five years
D.  forty-five years

4.  The Chancellor of the Exchequer was a position once held by:
A.  Queen Elizabeth

B.  King George VI
C.  Churchill’s father
D.  Richard Burton

5.  What does paragraph 1 of this passage imply?
A.  Churchill had a sense of humor.
B.  Churchill could care less.
C.  Churchill couldn’t care less.
D.  Churchill was a dullard.

Practice – Answers
1.  D.  During World War II, Winston Churchill led a constitutional monarchy.

2.  C.  Winston Churchill dedicated his life to government service.
Main Idea

3.  B.  fifty-five years

4.  C.  Churchill’s father

5.  A.  Churchill had a sense of humor.

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