Political system

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
World map over the systems of government
Systems of government in the world
Republican form of government:
  • presidential political system
  • semi-presidential system of government
  • Parliamentary government system
  • parliamentary executive power

  • Monarchical form of government:
  • parliamentary monarchy
  • Constitutional monarchy
  • Absolute Monarchy

  • Dictatorial systems (mostly in republics):
  • One-party system (although block parties may exist)
  • Constitutional government overthrown
    ( de facto mostly military dictatorships )

  • other systems or unclear
    political situations
  • Last updated 2012

    The political system refers to the entirety of those state and extra-state institutions and actors, rules and procedures that are involved in ongoing processes of formulating and solving political problems as well as the production and implementation of generally binding political decisions within a delimited framework of political structures . Because of the considerable complexity of the various aspects, it is usually described as a model. The political system z. B. of a state is determined by its constitution , political culture and political elites . But one can also speak of a political system for supranational , international and transnational organizations and institutions (for example in the sense of regime theory ). An attempt to formally define political systems, which was influential in the historical development of the term, comes from political systems theory .

    The comparison and classification of specific political systems have been made since ancient times and are an integral part of political science . In modern comparative political science , states and de facto regimes in particular are assigned to various forms of political systems according to certain criteria . It should be noted that in principle no state can be reduced to legal norms ; the real decision-making paths and power relations can differ considerably from them, even without them being violated. Decisive for the classification of a political system is therefore never the written constitution ( de jure ) alone, but above all the constitutional reality ( de facto ). Which institutions, processes and decisions have to be taken into account and which tasks are assigned to the political system depend on the respective definition of politics .

    Forms of State

    In the form theory of political systems, two groups of models were decisive until the beginning of the 20th century, the so-called three - part division and the so-called two-part division , each of which brought different aspects to the fore.

    Classical theory of forms of government

    Most with Aristotle placed in connection trisection that up to Herodotus can be recycled, different political systems according to the number of rulers (one, several, many), and provides each so identified "in the public interest useful" state form one of these structurally similar, but " degenerate “variant opposite.

    Classification of the forms of government according to Aristotle
    Number of rulers
    Quality of domination One Few Plural
    oriented towards the common good monarchy aristocracy Politics
    oriented towards self-interest Tyranny oligarchy democracy

    It is significant that Aristotle understands politics as that which comes closest to a (constitutional) democracy in today's understanding, while what he calls democracy was later called ochlocracy ('rule of the mob'); What is meant by this is a rule of the masses or the leading populist demagogues that is not bound by rules . Aristotle distinguished between timocracy and theocracy as sub-concepts of democracy according to the type of control of the masses . He himself advocated a mixed constitution combined from the non-degenerate pure forms . The mixed constitutional theory was significantly expanded by Polybius and remained decisive for the European discourse up to modern times .

    Modern typology

    Younger than the tripartite division is the division into monarchy and republic , which - probably wrongly - is attributed to Machiavelli . It is based on the introduction in Der Fürst , according to which all states, past and present, are either republics or monarchies. This typology was initially only received with restraint, but with the increasing spread of the republican system during and after the French Revolution it became increasingly accepted in literature. Machiavelli's understanding of the monarchy, however, differs significantly from today's: He defined a monarchy according to the fact that state power rests solely with the monarch, who rules almost autocratically, while he understands any division of state power or its transfer to several at the same time as republican. In contrast, in the modern understanding, every state is a monarchy that has a crowned head of state for life, regardless of his nominal or real access to state power.

    Classification according to Kant

    Pioneering the transition to the modern conception of typology was Immanuel Kant , who - especially in his work On Eternal Peace (1795) - combined elements of tripartite division (as a formal aspect of government) and division into two (as the practical exercise of rule) and thus obtained a matrix of six basic forms of the political system (Immanuel Kant: AA VIII, 351–353).

    Forms of the state according to Kant
    Form of control ( forma imperii )
    Form of government ( forma regiminis ) One (prince power) Some (aristocratic violence) All (popular violence)
    Republican Constitutional monarchy Constituted aristocracy Democratic constitutional state
    Despotic Absolute Monarchy oligarchy Despotic democracy

    Modern categorizations

    In recent times, political systems have also increasingly been viewed under the three sub-aspects of politics, namely polity (institutional form), politics (making political decisions) and policy (political doctrine, goals and resolutions). Nevertheless, on the basis of the history of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially the transition to the Cold War , the premodern typologies were increasingly developed in favor of a new, not always clear distinction, but based on the real power relations . The constitutional reality according seemed republican dictatorships more with absolute monarchies to have in common with a democratic constitutional states , at the same time were similar constitutional monarchies , particularly parliamentary, near the Republic influenced by Kant understanding.

    "It is often, and not only by laymen, misunderstood that State shape and governmental form are not the same. One state, like Great Britain , can be a monarchy in terms of its form of government or a democracy in terms of its form of government, while another, such as the Soviet Union , combines the form of government of autocracy or dictatorship with the form of republic. As a form of government, monarchy and republic are neither 'good' nor 'bad', but rather neutral in terms of political freedom of values. "

    Löwenstein therefore viewed the form of government as a formal form of the constitution and contrasted it with forms of exercise of power ('forms of government') that would be of greater relevance for political events. He distinguished autocracies , under which he also subsumed authoritarian and totalitarian regimes in which power is exercised undivided, from constitutional forms that are based on the separation of powers and on the transfer of power over time through elections .

    In today's typology of the state, a distinction has been made between the form of the state , the form of rule and the system of government since the beginning of the 20th century . The modern concepts for systematising political systems are listed below.

    Form of government

    As an organizational form and formal “constitution” of a state, the form of government is essential for both the internal and external appearance of the state. They are primarily based on the political organizational form of a state and the position of the head of state. In the literature, the distinction between monarchies and republics is particularly relevant, but this can be further differentiated if necessary.

    Form of rule

    The form of rule is the form of the real (de facto) power relations in a state or the type of actual exercise of rule, i.e. according to constitutional reality . What is relevant is who exercises the state power that is formally held by the sovereign . A distinction is therefore first made between legitimate - autocratic and illegitimate rule, but then which groups or state organs exercise rule, for example by deciding how justice is to be administered, laws or ordinances are passed or decisions about the establishment and dismissal of the government .

    Government system

    The system of government describes the functioning of the executive and defines the constitutional position of the constitutional organs in relation to one another. The relationship between head of state , head of government and parliament is particularly relevant .

    • in republics the most common systems of government are:
    • in monarchies the most common systems of government are:


    The following examples are intended to illustrate the above-mentioned modern distinctions ( form of government - form of rule - system of government ) of political systems using exemplary cases:

    Case study Federal Republic of Germany
    Form of government Federal Republic ( West )
    Form of rule parliamentary democracy
    Government system Parliamentary government system
    Case study Islamic Republic of Iran
    Form of government islamic republic
    Form of rule theocracy
    Government system presidential political system
    Case study Kingdom of Sweden
    Form of government constitutional monarchy ( hereditary monarchy )
    Form of rule parliamentary monarchy
    Government system Parliamentary government system
    Case study United States of America
    Form of government federal republic (federal republic)
    Form of rule parliamentary democracy
    Government system presidential political system

    Political Systems Theory

    Political system according to Easton
    Input-output feedback

    Since Talcott Parsons at the latest , approaches from sociological systems theory to describe and explain the political have been available. Parsons, who is based on Max Weber's theory of action and domination , defines in his AGIL scheme the political system as the subsystem of a social system geared towards achieving goals .

    The adaptation and further development of these approaches for political science, also known as political systems theory, goes back to the American political scientist David Easton . Since then, the political sphere of action has primarily been understood as a political system. Thus the concept of the political system in the analysis of macro-political units (such as countries , nation states ) became the most important alternative to the concept of the state . Easton formulated the following basic knowledge-guiding question:

    “How do political systems manage to assert themselves in a world that is both stable and changing? The search for an answer will eventually uncover what I have called the life process of political systems - i. H. those fundamental functions without which no system can exist and those typical modes of reaction by which systems keep these processes going. The investigation of these processes as well as the nature and the conditions of these reactions I consider to be the central problem of political theory. "

    - David Easton

    Easton attributes the following basic characteristics to political systems:

    1. The political system is an analytical construct.
    2. It is based on the notion of an input-output model of politics .
    3. The political system is part of the overall social system.
    4. It encompasses the entirety of the institutions, processes and actors that produce binding decisions for society.


    • Uwe Andersen, Wichard Woyke : Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 5th, updated edition, Leske + Budrich, Opladen 2003 (article “ Political System ” online on the website of the Federal Agency for Civic Education ).
    • Michael Becker, Johannes Schmidt, Reinhard Zintl: Political Philosophy . 2nd, revised edition. Schöningh, Paderborn 2009, ISBN 978-3-8252-2816-3 .
    • Thomas Bernauer , Detlef Jahn , Patrick Kuhn, Stefanie Walter: Introduction to Political Science. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden 2009, ISBN 978-3-8329-3807-9 .
    • Alexander Gallus , Eckhard Jesse (Ed.): State forms. Models of political order from antiquity to the present. A manual . Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-8252-8343-8 .
    • Jürgen Hartmann : Western systems of government: parliamentarism, presidential and semi-presidential system of government. 2nd, updated edition, VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-531-14221-6 , p. 15 ff. ("The government system. Definition, typology and political-theoretical background").
    • Alfred Katz: Constitutional Law. Basic course in constitutional law . 18th edition. CF Müller, Heidelberg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8114-9778-8 ( p. 23 ff. ).
    • Manfred G. Schmidt : Democracy Theories. An introduction . VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-531-17310-8 .
    • Markus Soldner: “Semi-presidential” systems of government? Considerations on a controversial system type and building blocks of a typological reconceptualization. In: Klemens H. Schrenk, Markus Soldner (ed.): Analysis of democratic systems of government. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-531-16309-3 , pp. 61–82.
    • Winfried Steffani (ed.): To distinguish between parliamentary and presidential systems of government. In: Journal for Parliamentary Issues, 14th year (1983), Issue 3, pp. 390–401.

    Individual evidence

    1. See Everhard Holtmann : Politisches System , in: ders. (Ed.): Politik-Lexikon. 3rd edition, Oldenbourg, Munich / Vienna 2000, pp. 546-550, here p. 546.
    2. See Alexander Gallus, Eckhard Jesse (Ed.): Staatsformen. Models of political order from antiquity to the present. A manual. Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007; Manfred G. Schmidt: Democracy Theories. An introduction. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2010.
    3. ^ A b c Eckhard Jesse, Staatsformenlehre , in: Dieter Nohlen : Dictionary State and Politics , 3rd edition, licensed edition for the Federal Agency for Civic Education / bpb, Bonn 1998, ISBN 3-89331-341-9 , pp. 730-733 .
    4. See Alexander Gallus, Eckhard Jesse: Staatsformen , 2004, ISBN 3-412-07604-X , p. 50 ff.
    5. Immanuel Kant, Collected Writings. Ed .: Vol. 1-22 Prussian Academy of Sciences, Vol. 23 German Academy of Sciences in Berlin, from Vol. 24 Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Berlin 1900ff., AA VIII, 351–353 .
    6. a b Karl Loewenstein : The monarchy in the modern state. Frankfurt am Main 1952, p. 18.
    7. Cf. Falco Federmann: The Constitutionalization of the European Union - Considerations Against the Background of the Continuing European Constitutional Process, Eul, Lohmar 2007, ISBN 978-3-89936-619-8 , pp. 24 ff.
    8. See z. B. Karl Loewenstein, The Monarchy in the Modern State , Frankfurt am Main 1952; see. also the comprehensive overview by Erich Küchenhoff , possibilities and limits of conceptual clarity in the theory of forms of state , Berlin 1967, p. 35 ff.
    9. ^ After Uwe Andersen, Wichard Woyke (Ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany . Opladen 2003, ISBN 3-8100-3670-6 ( online at bpb ).
    10. ↑ Based on David E. Thaler, Alireza Nader, Shahram Chubin, Jerrold D. Green, Charlotte Lynch, Frederic Wehrey: Mullahs, Guards, and Bonyads. An Exploration of Iranian Leadership Dynamics (PDF, 168 pages), RAND Corporation 2010, ISBN 978-0-8330-4773-1 (English).
    11. After Detlef Jahn : The Swedish political system , in: Wolfgang Ismayr (Hrsg.): The political systems of West Europe . 3rd edition, UTB, 2003, ISBN 3-8252-8099-3 , pp. 93-130.
    12. According to Federal Agency for Civic Education (ed.): Politisches System der USA (Information on Civic Education, Issue 283, September 2008), Bonn 2008 ( online at bpb ) and Wolfgang Jäger, Christoph M. Haas, Wolfgang Welz (ed.) : US Government System: Instructional and Manual. 3rd edition, Oldenburg, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58438-7 .
    13. ^ David Easton, A Systems Analysis of Political Life , New York 1965, p. 32.
    14. ^ Easton cited. according to Arno Waschkuhn: Political System Theory , Opladen 1987, p. 55.