The very concept originated in the Middle Ages in the northern part of Italy. In the XV century, so decided to designate the local city-states. They were small independent territories in the form of communes or seigniories.
At first, they were called Libertas Populi, which in translation meant “free people”. The cities had complete self-government and were not included in larger formations. Later, Italian historians designated them the Latin term res publica, emphasizing that the policy of city-states was carried out according to the people’s decision, and not the will of a single monarch.
At present, the meaning of the word “republic” has practically not changed. The Republic is a form of government in which the organs of supreme power are elected by special institutions or residents of the country. It is often confused with democracy, but these are different concepts.
Signs of the Republic
Unlike the traditional monarchy, citizens of the republic have not only personal, but also political rights. Their direct influence on the political life of the country is manifested in the popular vote during the elections for certain state positions.
The main distinguishing feature of the republic is that the president does not inherit power, but is elected to his post. He is considered the first person in the state and represents the executive branch of government. Legislative power belongs to the parliament.
The principle of division of duties operates in the republic. Most of the supreme bodies are elected. Their powers have a specific time limit, which can not be extended. To re-occupy the post, you need to re-run the election procedure. Powers of the organs of a higher power can be terminated early if their work is unsatisfactory.
History of origin and development
The first republics appeared long before this term appeared. The ramified structure of power was already observed in Mesopotamia. Then the highest organs were councils or meetings. All full-fledged residents could accept participation in them.
Of course, the ancient states differed significantly from modern ones. By their organization, they were more likely to occupy an intermediate link between the monarchical and the republican system. In ancient Greece and Rome, the republic had two forms – aristocracy and democracy. In the first case, power was in the hands of the privileged nobility, in the second case it belonged to the national assembly.
In the Middle Ages, the forms of government are delimited. Republican city-states appear in Italy, Switzerland, Germany. In Europe, the most ancient republic is San Marino. It was formed 1700 years ago and has not changed its form to this day.
Varieties of republic
There are four main types of republics: presidential, parliamentary, mixed and theocratic. Varieties are determined by which representative body has great powers and responsibilities.
In the presidential republic, the main person in charge is the president. He has the right to submit his laws to parliament, appoint and dissolve the government. In world history, the first republic with a presidential bias is the United States. Her president was George Washington, joining the post of head of state and government in one person.
A parliamentary republic is a state where the president performs only representative functions. All important decisions belong to the parliament. He forms the government, drafts and accepts bills. With a mixed system of government, power is equally divided between the parliament and the president. The government is equally accountable to these two bodies.
Theocratic Republic is a special kind of state in which the power belongs to the religious elite and the clergy. Decisions are made according to religious precepts, revelations or laws.
Also, there are other countries-republics:
- The Soviet.
The latter two do not exist at the present time.
The Republic is the most common form of government. On the modern political map of the world, there are 140 such states. From ancient states, they are distinguished by the existence of a special document that completely determines their structure, manner and order of interaction between the highest authorities and the people. Such a document is the constitution.
The overwhelming majority of the republics are representative democracies. The power in them belongs to all the people, without any classes being singled out. Representation is manifested in the fact that the people delegate the administration of the country to certain bodies (parliament, president, etc.). That is, the participation of citizens is mediated.
Republics can be either independent states or dependent. They can be part of other states, including monarchist ones.
Advantages and disadvantages
The expediency of this form of government historians and philosophers argued for centuries. Like any system, the republic has weak and strong sides. Below are some of them.
- Electivity of the organs of higher power. The people have the right to participate in the destiny of the state, choosing worthy leaders.
- The responsibility of the government to citizens. If the bodies of higher power do not properly perform their functions, punishment may apply to them; they risk being not elected for the next term or losing their powers ahead of schedule.
- In the republic, there are more opportunities for democracy, since decisions in the state are made not at the will of one person, but at the will of the majority.
- The possibility of avoiding revolution and bloody riots. The government is the representative of the people and expresses its will, with the discontent of the population it is compelled to listen to it.
- The choice of the people is not always true. Since voting determines the composition of higher bodies, it becomes possible to manipulate society.
- The adoption of government decisions requires certain procedures so it can drag on with time.
- Perhaps the emergence of the dictatorship of the majority, when the higher authorities abuse the situation.
- Over time, plutocracy appears and the separation of classes.