The Online Library of Knowledge



The US CongressThe US Congress A government is any system in which authority is exercised over the people. There are several different types of government. A liberal democracy is a style of government where there is more than one political party and the people vote for the party of their choice. A totalitarian government is a one-party state in which the state has total power. An autocracy is a form of government where power is in the hands of one person, or of the army.

People voting at the 2012 US presidential electionPeople voting at the 2012 US presidential election

Liberal democracy

In a liberal democracy, there are elections in which the people vote for the candidate or political party of their choice. In France or the United States, people vote directly for the president as well as for members of parliament (called Congressmen or Congresswomen in the USA). In other countries, such as the United Kingdom, people vote only for Members of Parliament (MPs) and the political party with the most MPs forms the government. 

The US Capitol in Washington, D.C.The US Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Under a system known as “proportional representation”, each party draws up a list of candidates and the people vote for a party, not an MP. Parties gain a percentage of seats depending on the number of votes they have. Denmark is an example of a country that uses proportional representation to elect its government.

The oldest parliament still active is the Althing, the general assembly of Iceland. It was founded in 930 AD, making Iceland the oldest parliamentary democracy in the world.

© 2020 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile