Topic – Systems of Government

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Systems of Government

Canada is a constitutional monarchy and has a federal system of government

Did you know that the word government means the power to make laws and to enforce them? The word government can also mean the group of people who make the laws. If there were only a few people in a community, it would be easy to come together to make decisions about the best way to run things. In reality, there are usually too many people in a community and millions of people in a country. This makes it difficult to make decisions without being organized. The government helps organize decision-making.

Canada’s System of Government

Canada is a constitutional monarchy and has a federal system of government. Other countries that have a federal system of government are the United States of America, Australia, and Switzerland. In Canada, the federal system of government is organized so that powers and responsibilities are divided between the federal government stationed in Ottawa, and each of the 10 provincial and 3 territorial governments. In addition, every city or smaller community has a local government called a municipal government. Municipal governments have specific responsibilities, too.

Other Systems of Government


When a king or queen rules a country, this form of government is called a monarchy. Citizens do not have a choice as to who will be their leader. Instead, power is passed down through the family bloodline. Usually when a king or queen dies, the throne is passed to the oldest son. If there is no son, the oldest daughter becomes queen. At one time, there were monarchies in countries such as Russia, England, Italy, France, and Germany. Today, there are only a few countries that are ruled by kings or queens. Jordan is an example of a country ruled by a monarchy.


The term republic is used to describe countries that were once ruled by a king or queen. People of these countries did not think a monarchy was a fair system of government and decided to remove the monarch from power and to never have a king or queen again. Often force was needed to get rid of a king or queen. For example, France became a republic in 1792 after the French Revolution, in which the French revolted against King Louis XVI.


The word anarchy describes a situation in which there is no government.

A constitutional monarchy is a country that still has a king or queen as the symbolic head of state.

Constitutional Monarchy

A constitutional monarchy describes countries that still have a king or queen as the symbolic head of state, but the people elect the government. Some examples of constitutional monarchies are Sweden and Norway.


A dictatorship is a form of government in which only one person has all the power. A dictator has the power to tell people what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Regular citizens have no say in their government, and often live in fear of the police and army who carry out the dictator’s orders. Citizens must be careful not to speak out against the dictatorship government because they might get into serious trouble or even be killed. An example of a dictator was Adolph Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany from 1933–1945. He governed through fear and had secret police called the Gestapo to make sure people did not question his authority. Today, countries such as Cuba and Libya are examples of dictatorships.


A democracy is a form of government that is elected and controlled by the people who live under it. Democracy comes from the Greek words meaning “government by the people.” This means that people work together to make laws for their community. Eligible citizens of the community can also vote and have a say in decisions made about their community. Canada, the United States, and Australia have democratic forms of government.

Communist Party symbol


Communism is a form of government in which the government is a small group of people who are members of the Communist Party. As a result, only a very few people have a voice in how the government is run. Citizens are not allowed to express themselves. Usually, publications and radio and television broadcasts have to be approved by the government. Communists believe that the good of the group is more important than the interests of an individual. In this type of government, communists work to bring education, housing, and healthcare to all people.

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