Puppet government or puppet régime are derogatory terms for a government which - though notionally of the same culture as the governed people - owes its existence (or other major debt) to being installed, supported or controlled by a more powerful entity, typically a foreign power.
The term is partisan and prone to semantic disputes, used almost exclusively by detractors of such governments, whether or not the majority of citizens affected acknowledge the characterization, or object to that kind of government. Often a proclaimed puppet government faces a rival government which uses the puppet government term to weaken the legitimacy of that government. Also usually implied is the government's lack of legitimacy, in the view of those using the term.
For example, the two Korean governments have each throughout their history often used the rhetoric that they are in fact the only true rulers of the penisula, and that the other government is merely a "puppet" of the US/Soviets.
Some other examples of states and governments sometimes labelled "puppet governments" include (in chronological order):
- the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (on territory occupied in 1974)
- The People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, supported by the Soviet Union (1975-1990)
- most of the Soviet "satellite states" behind the Iron Curtain in post-war Europe
- The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, controlled by the Soviet Union (1979-1990)
- many Central and South American military dictatorships, supported by USA
- the Greek Junta 1967-1974, supported by USA
- Cuba, backed by USA (1902-1959)
- Manchukuo, set up in Manchuria by Japan in the 1930s
- Mengjiang, similar to Manchukuo but in Inner Mongolia
- Wang Jingwei's leftist Nationalist government in Nanjing 1940-1944 detached from Kuomintang, supported by Japan
- the Far Eastern Republic, set up by the Bolsheviks 1920-1923 in the Russian Far East
- Panama, separated from Colombia by USA in 1903 to build and control the Panama Canal
Most of the West-European governments under domination of Nazi-Germany during World War II are now and then called puppet régimes, not the least in Allied literature, and particularly the fascist-leaning:
- Belgium (1939-1945) - The violent Rexist movement had achieved some electoral success in the 1930s and many of its members assisted the Nazi occupation during World War II.
- Slovakia (1939-1944) - The Slovak Populist Party was a quasi-fascist nationalist movement associated with the Roman Catholic Church. Monsignor Jozef Tiso became the Nazis' quisling in a nominally independent Slovakia.
- France (1940-1945) - The Vichy régime of Henri Pétain
- Croatia (1941-1945) - The Independent State of Croatia
- Norway (1943-1945) - Vidkun Quisling had already during the German invasion on April 9th, 1940, attempted a coup d'état, but was appointed to head a government first from February 1st, 1943. His party had never had any substantial support in Norway.
- Italy (1943-1945) - After the Badoglio government withdrew from the Axis Powers, the Germans occupied Italy, and created a puppet Fascist state called the Italian Social Republic.