Forms of state

█ █ Republics

█ █ monarchies

The form of government characterized the organizational form, " constitution" and external political order of a State and is therefore an important feature of a basic state order. It refers, inter alia, as the head of state is determined and legitimized as political decision-making takes place and whether a separation of powers takes place. The form of government is thus essential for both the inner and the outer appearance of the state.

In the older literature in the strict sense of government is often based only on the dichotomy monarchy - republic as pure forms, between the shape of the mixed constitution occurs. These forms were further differentiated, the validity of this classification is, however, reduced in the 20th century: since by parliamentary and democratization, has declined the political significance of monarchies and heads of state, where these are not head of government, the distinction between monarchies to republics is rather uninteresting while on the other hand, the term Republic can be little used clear-cut as the label for different rule systems. Meanwhile, other criteria for the classification of the forms of government are established and are widely used. So is differentiated as a more fundamental distinction between a federal and unitary state.

Use of the term

The form of state doctrine is a classic field of political philosophy and jurisprudence. The term of the form of government is, therefore, both for philosophy and for the political science and public law of particular interest. In addition, the state forms are also relevant in other humanities and social sciences. It should be noted that the state law, the state will likely considered normative structure, in the social sciences, however, as a social subsystem.


Forms of government form a central conceptual component in the determination of political systems. The diversity of forms of government is reduced sometimes to the dichotomy Republic versus Monarchy based on Nicolo Machiavelli. This raises the possibility of demarcation to the forms of rule.

A further distinction between the forms of state is given by the three- element theory from the different expression of state power, which can be classified according to various theoretical types. In practice, they can occur in different forms and mixed forms. In the classical theory of state forms result from the different methods to classify the forms of government, different main and sub- types:

There are several main types, which can be divided in each case on; However, there are also combinations and alternative classifications conceivable about the monarchy in succession and election monarchies, other types are single-party dictatorships and republics, Islamic republics, theocracies. Here, a real state may well have the traits of several types. In the political science field since Karl Loewenstein at the latest (still " constitutional government " in Loewenstein ) is the fundamental distinction in autocracy and democracy applicable, the Loewenstein itself, however, referred to as forms of government and the Perpetual Peace ties in the classification of forma regiminis from Immanuel Kant's writing.


The form of government can be conceptually distinguished from:

  • The form of government, the balance of power depends on the configuration of the real ( de facto ) in a state. In modern literature, they are often reduced to the dualism between legitimate and illegitimate rule.
  • The system of government that is determined by the functioning of government as well as the position or competence of Head of State, Head of Government and Parliament: Examples in republics: government Presidential, parliamentary or semipräsidentiell;
  • Examples in the monarchies: the parliamentary, constitutional or absolute monarchy.

In the older literature the concepts of domination, government and form of government, however, were often used interchangeably. For example, even today the term " monarchy " are both State as well considered as a form of domination. The indiscriminate use of these is in the law and political science literature no longer common.