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7 Examples of a Political System

A political system is a system for distributing authority over a society. This is one of the many systems of a society alongside bureaucratic, economic and social systems. Political systems are implemented with constitutions, laws, norms, traditions, institutions, processes, procedures, technologies and infrastructure that allow authority to exercise control over the resources of a society. The following are common examples of a political system.


A democracy vests authority in the people of a nation who vote for elected representatives. The people may also vote on major decisions with a referendum. Democracies are more than systems of voting but are participatory systems where anyone can voice their ideas, assemble and form political parties. All adults have an equal vote under a democracy with protections in place to prevent undue influence by special interests. The following are some basic characteristics of a democracy.
Elected Representatives with Limited Terms
Free Press
Freedom of Assembly
Freedom of Speech
Government Accountability
Government Transparency
Political Equality
Political Participation
Rights & Freedoms
Rule of Law
Separation of Church and State
Separation of Powers
Universal Suffrage

Partial Democracy

In many cases, a society votes for officials but isn't a democracy in the sense that the people have any real power over the government. For example, a lack of political freedoms, government transparency and a free press may allow an elite to control a society indefinitely despite voting.
Entrenched Elite With Influence Over Government
Lack of Political Freedom

One-Party State

A state where only one party is allowed to form a government or where this is the defacto result of every election. In a one-party state, authority is granted to those who can rise within the party itself. Power may be based on family ties, corporate power structures and other relationships.


Oligarchy is a broad term for rule by the few. This has many variations based on the motives and claim to authority of the ruling elite. For example:
Aristocracy (rule by upper class families)
Kleptocracy (rule for profit)
Meritocracy (rule by "talented experts")
Technocracy (rule by "experts")


Rule by one, usually known as a dictatorship. A dictator has absolute and unchecked power over a society and may be intolerant of any sign of opposition such that they are likely to remove freedoms. This remarkable state of things where a single individual dominates a society with complete authority occurs for various reasons:
Coercive Force
Cult of Personality
Rise to Dominance in a One-Party State
Rise to Dominance in a Partial Democracy

Supranational Union

International organizations that have power delegated to them by member states. Citizens of member states and their elected representatives may have little influence over these organizations such that this may give up elements of sovereignty.


Rule by none. This is difficult to implement as people naturally compete and power structures emerge in any group. To prevent this from happening would also require a power structure. This is a bit paradoxical such that it hasn't occurred for any length of time in any large community, let alone a complex society. It is interesting as a theory.
Overview: Political System
A system for distributing authority over a society.
Commonly Confused With
Economic System
Also Known As
Form of Government
Related Concepts

Political System

This is the complete list of articles we have written about political system.
Political Influence
Political System
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The defining characteristics of a democracy.


A list of things that could be considered political.

Creative Tension

A definition of creative tension with examples.

Political Polarization

The definition of political polarization with a list of its basic characteristics.


The definition of ideology with a list of examples.


The definition of exceptionalism with examples.

Media Manipulation

The definition of media manipulation with examples.

Social Structures

The definition of social structure with examples.


The definition of institution with examples.


The definition of society with examples.

Herd Mentality

The definition of herd mentality with examples.


The definition of credentialism with examples.

Social Class Characteristics

The basic characteristics of social class.


The definition of collectivism with examples.


The definition of paternalism with examples.

Ideology Characteristics

The common characteristics of ideologies.
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