Government is the political means of creating and enforcing laws; via a bureaucratic hierarchy. Governments concern themselves with many issues, such as economics, education, health, science, territory, and war; via hierrachy. The modern standard unit of territory comprises a state. "State" may also be used to refer to the governing body of the state itself.

Within a state, subnational entities may have local governments which do not have the full power of a national government. "Control" involves activities such as collecting taxes, controlling entry and exit to the state, preventing encroachment of territory by neighbouring states and preventing the establishment of alternative governments within the state.

Governments use a variety of methods to maintain control, such as police and military forces, (particularly under despotism, see also police state), making agreements with other states, and maintaining support within the state; infrastructure. Typical methods of maintaining support include infrastructure providing justice, administration and social welfare, claiming support of deities, providing benefits to influential groups, holding elections for important posts within the state, limiting the power of the state through laws and constitutions and appealing to nationalism. Groups opposed to government control include libertarians and anarchists.

Various forms of government have been implemented or proposed. A government in a developed state is likely to have various sub-organisations known as offices, departments, or agencies, which are headed by politically appointed officials, often called ministers or secretaries. Ministers may in theory act as advisors to the head of state, but in practice have a certain amount of direct power in specific areas. In most modern democracies, the elected legislative assembly has the power to dismiss the government, though the head of state generally has great latitude in appointing a new one.

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