Government and Democracy (Ontario)

Government is the people and institutions put in place by a country, province, territory or town to manage the land, resources and people living within its borders. This includes the structures and systems used for making decisions and maintaining social order. Can you imagine life without any rules or laws? There would be chaos and fighting, and little would be accomplished. The same thing would happen without government. A country without government control or laws is called anarchy. Around the world there are different types of government and they make decisions for their people in different ways. Governments can be compared by how they do or do not share power, and the rights and freedoms provided to citizens. There are three broad government categories, which most government systems fall within. An autocracy is a type of government where one person or ruler has full control over all aspects of life, without the permission of the people. There is a high level of security, with a heavy military presence and government controlled media. Countries living under authoritarian rule include North Korea, Syria and Kazakhstan. A theocracy is a government where a god or Deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler and laws are interpreted by religious authorities, such as bishops or mullahs. Iran is a theocracy, and so is Vatican City. A democracy is a type of government where power is held by all the people. These countries are usually free societies, where they exercise rule of law and have limits on the power of government. Citizens also have individual rights, like freedom of speech and religion. They also have access to power, meaning they can run for political office. Most democracies are representative democracies. Since it is not practical for everyone to have a say in every matter or decision, citizens choose representatives to make decisions on their behalf. These representatives are selected through elections. Canada, the United States and France are all democracies. Every government and country is different because of their historical development. No one definition applies to them all.

Maurice Vega

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