Government (from the Latin gubernare, to steer or manage) is an active agency that governs a political unit or organization, and in particular a State. Its responsibilities and duties include creating policies, enforcing laws, and managing a country’s economy. Government also regulates access to certain goods, such as natural resources, for the benefit of all. It also provides a structure by which citizens may make their needs and opinions known to those making decisions for them.
Governments provide stability to society through effective law enforcement and a functioning military. They ensure public safety through police departments and fire departments, and they supply essential services such as education and mail delivery. Governments also help their citizens cope with crises, providing food, housing, and health care programs. They also regulate access to common goods, like the ocean’s fish and public lands. This protects those things from being over-used, so that a few people cannot take everything away and leave the rest with nothing.
In addition to these basic responsibilities, governments also manage a nation’s economy, which includes regulating inflation and stimulating foreign investment. In western democracies, they also establish the freedom of speech and press and provide a means for citizens to participate in democracy by voting for representatives.
A country’s form of government is often classified according to the way in which power is distributed, with a variety of political systems recognized today. These include democracy, totalitarian regimes and a range of authoritarian regimes that sit between them.
The most commonly recognized forms of government are monarchy, oligarchy and democracy. These are usually separated by the extent to which those in power are elected and the degree of popular participation in political decision-making.
Generally, a democracy is considered to be the most just form of government because it gives the most power to the people, although it does not guarantee that all will be treated equally. A monarchy, on the other hand, is often seen as the most cruel form of government because it imposes unjust and disproportionate burdens on its subjects.
Governments are formed when groups of citizens meet to discuss political issues and elect people to represent them at the national, state and local levels. They are normally regulated by laws establishing the rights and duties of their members. In a democratic system, the government represents the interests of all its citizens, regardless of their level of wealth or educational achievement. In some countries, the level of power a government has is reflected in its size: smaller governments are known as republics and larger ones as constitutional democracies. Some states have a parliamentary system of government, in which power is divided between a bicameral legislature and an executive branch. In this type of system, the legislative branch makes laws and the executive is responsible for putting them into action. In other countries, power is centralized in the hands of one person, called a dictator. Governments are also classified by the degree to which they enforce their laws and regulations, which is measured by how much of a country is de facto or de jure democratic.