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The government is one of the highest institutions in a state . It directs, directs and oversees politics internally and externally. A government usually consists of a head of government and several ministers , each with their own ministries . In a presidential system such as the United States , the head of state is also the head of government.

The term government is often a synonym for the executive (executive power) of a state or a state-like entity. The government is also referred to as the gubernative .



The word government was formed from the Middle High German rule , used since the 13th century , which arose from the Latin regere via the old French reger . In the narrower sense, this meant something like "direct" or "direct" and in the broader sense "lead", "lead". Related words of the same origin used today are Regent , Regiment , Regime , Regie , Rektor and the grammatical term Rektion .

The government corresponding Anglo-Saxon word government and the French gouvernement have their roots in the concept of gubernator , which has its origins in Greek κυβερνήτης has, which means something like "helmsman".

Functional change

At the time of absolutism

The central and leading organ of state power emerged in Europe with the development of civil society. The first approaches to this, including the centralized control of the state and its people with the help of the army, police, bureaucracy, the judiciary, etc., were already found in the Absolute Monarchy . Although the absolutist monarchs strengthened their position by centralizing the functions of government, they also made themselves financially dependent on the craft guilds and the emerging bourgeoisie .

In the modern age

In most European languages, the term government encompassed the full exercise of state authority until the second half of the 19th century . It was the government's job to direct not just the state, but society as a whole. With the emergence of the liberal constitutional states, the idea of ​​social self-regulation prevailed. From then on, the government's task was more and more limited to foreign policy and state-organizational activities in law enforcement . In contrast to the purely law-based administration, the government was primarily active in administration .

Other uses of the term

In the federal states of Germany is called at the level of administrative districts of central authority of state administration formed regional council or county government . In Bavaria this authority is simply called the government , for example the government of Upper Bavaria .

In times of great crisis (war / disasters), an emergency government is a highly restricted government of a country (see government bunker ).

Formation of a government

A government can come into being differently depending on the form of rule:

The eligibility of a member of the government may depend on certain requirements. Such criteria can be: age (democracy), gender (democracy), ownership (plutocracy), descent (aristocracy, monarchy).

In the theoretically imaginable anarchy there would be no government and no hierarchy , but self-organization and self-administration .

In Germany, the federal government comes into being in a two-stage process. First, is Chancellor of the Federal President in relation to the Bundestag proposed for election. Usually, but not necessarily, it is based on the candidate of the strongest coalition . If a Federal Chancellor is elected, he determines the remaining members of the government ( Federal Ministers ), who must be appointed by the Federal President. ( Art. 63 and Art. 64 GG )

In Austria, in accordance with Art. 70 B-VG, the Federal Chancellor and, on his proposal, the remaining members of the Federal Government are appointed by the Federal President. If the National Council expresses its distrust of the government or individual members of its members, the Federal President must immediately remove them from their office. In addition, the head of state can dismiss individual federal ministers at the suggestion of the Federal Chancellor or the entire government at its own discretion.

In Switzerland the government is elected at federal level by the united two chambers of parliament , in the cantons by the people: see Political System of Switzerland # Federal Level and Political System of Switzerland # Cantonal Level

In the Netherlands, until 2012 the king or queen had the task of appointing a certain politician to form a government after an election without an absolute majority for a party. After a long debate, the Dutch parliament decided in 2012 to take this role away from him / her.

In Italy, after a parliamentary election, the Italian President instructs a politician to form a government (see also Political System of Italy ).

In Greece the procedure is as follows: The party that received the most votes in a parliamentary election is given the first three days to form a government. If it fails, the second strongest party gets three days, etc. After the Greek parliamentary elections on May 6, 2012 , this procedure attracted a lot of international attention. The leaders of the three largest parties failed one after another. Then President Karolos Papoulias held last talks with the heads of all parties in accordance with the constitution, in order to persuade them to form a government. Since this did not succeed, he called new elections (these took place on June 17, 2012 ).

Great Britain: see Political System of the United Kingdom (because of the majority vote in the UK there are usually clear majorities. In 2010 a coalition government was formed for the first time in a long time, see Cameron I cabinet ).

Forms and modes of operation

Governments can be classified according to different criteria. One distinguishes them

after the state building:

according to the distribution of power vis-à-vis the legislative organs :

in a parliamentary system of government according to the level of participation of parliamentarians in government:

  • The sole government is the sole government of a party.
  • As the majority government , the ruling party holds an absolute majority in parliament.
  • As a minority government , it does not have this, but is supported by a majority of MPs.
  • The concentration government contains representatives from all parliamentary parties.
  • The coalition government is the collaboration of two, or more, but not all, parties that thereby achieve an absolute majority.

With the exception of the assembly government, the government is not an executive committee of parliament in the parliamentary system either , but an independent body that makes its own decisions.

The organization within the government can

In the presidential government, the head of government has paramount power over the heads of departments. They do not decide on factual issues on their own responsibility. They are only assistants in the rank of State Secretary . The US government is exemplary of this system . In the collegiate or cabinet system, each minister has his own department, but is subject to joint decisions of the cabinet. The head of government is also bound by the decisions, for example in the German federal government .

The tasks of a government are usually determined by a constitution .

See also


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Web links

Wiktionary: Government  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Elmar Seebold: Kluge. Etymological dictionary of the German language . 24th edition. 2002, ISBN 3-11-017473-1 .
  2. ^ Wilhelm Mößle: Government. In: Supplementary Lexicon of Law. Group 5 State and Constitutional Law. Status: 1996, ISBN 3-472-10700-6 .
  3. Tweede Kamer ontneemt staatshoofd rol bij formatie. Elsevier, March 19, 2012.
  4. ^ Failed formation of a government: Greek tragedy, third act. In: Spiegel online . May 11, 2012.