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):

Governments which take power after foreign military intervention, or the threat thereof, are often accused by their opponents of being puppet governments, for example the government of Hamid Karzai in post-Taliban Afghanistan or the Diem government of South Vietnam, supported by the United States. Indeed, such accusations are commonly used to destabilize governments, encouraging and justifing coup d'états.

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:

See also: Banana republic