Foundations and Formations of Government flashcards

Absolute Monarchy

A government in which the king or queen has absolute power.

Constitutional Monarchy

A King or Queen is the official head of state but power is limited by a constitution.

totalitarian government

a system of rule in which the government recognizes no formal limits on its power and seeks to absorb or eliminate other social institutions that might challenge it.


A form of government in which the leader has absolute power and authority.


a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution.


A form of government in which the people select representatives to govern them and make laws.


A country that is run according to the interests of the ruler rather than the people

unitary system

Constitutional arrangement that concentrates power in a central government.

Federal System (Federalism)

system of government where the national government and state governments share power, derive all authority from the people, and the powers of the government are specified in a constitution.

confederal system

A system consisting of a league of independent states, each having essentially sovereign powers. The central government created by such a league has only limited powers over the states.

presidential system

a form of government headed by a president who is elected by the people for a limited term of office and whose powers are balanced by an elected legislature.

Parliamentary System

A system of government in which the chief executive is the leader whose party holds the most seats in the legislature after an election or whose party forms a major part of the ruling coalition.

John Locke

17th century English philosopher who opposed the Divine Right of Kings and who asserted that people have a natural right to life, liberty, and property.

Thomas Hobbes

English materialist and political philosopher who advocated absolute sovereignty as the only kind of government that could resolve problems caused by the selfishness of human beings (1588-1679).

Baron de Montesquieu

French aristocrat who wanted to limit royal absolutism; Wrote The Spirit of Laws, urging that power be separated between executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each balancing out the others, thus preventing despotism and preserving freedom. This greatly influenced writers of the US Constitution. He greatly admired British form of government.