Types and Characteristics of Government


Welcome to class! 

In today’s class, we will be talking about the types and characteristics of government. Enjoy the class!

Types and Characteristics of Government

Types and Characteristics of Government classnotess.ng

Here we shall concentrate on 5 forms of power or government.  N previous class, we had extensively discussed Democracy (see week 5, 1st term SS1) and will in the next term discuss Monarchy (see week 2, 2nd term SS1) as forms of government.  We shall go ahead to discuss Oligarchy, Authoritarianism and totalitarianism.


This is a form of government run by a small number of people.  Such as wealthy landowners, royalty or powerful military figures.  Another word that can be substituted for Oligarchy includes Diarchy.  Nigeria as a state has in several articles been said to run a form of oligarchy as, over the years, just a few people revolve around its political and economic corridor.  When power does not spread, when people do not have freedom or votes are said to be irrelevant, or when the same set of persons get into political offices election after election such a system is known as an oligarchy.   People who hold power are usually more educated, religious leaders, richer fellows, military and more exposed persons.  They perpetuate their ideologies irrespective of the formal constitutional structure of the land.  One major feature of this form of government is that it is the rule of the majority by the minority.

Characteristics of oligarchy
  1. It is the rule of the majority by the minority.
  2. Oligarchs maintain their power through their relationship with each other
  3. These few ruling members create policies that benefit them to the exclusion to the rest of society.
  4. Power is centralized within the leadership team rather than involving everyone in decision-making processes.
  5. People can participate in relationships, work and activities while those in power handle the larger issues for the society.
Some disadvantages of this form of government include;
  1. As the ruling class gains grounds, it tends to exclude outsiders making it tough for people to break in.
  2. It prevents fresh perspectives and diversity of ideas.
  3. It can limit available supplies to certain classes, fix prices, provide selective benefits and restrict the economy by hindering basic demand and supply functions.
  4. When people feel they can not join the ruling class, they may no longer feel compelled to follow the rules set by the ruling team thereby leading to rebellion, riots, disruption and even a war


This refers to the enforcement or advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom.  It could also be described as a lack of concern for the wishes or opinions of others.  It is characterized by strong central powers and limited political freedoms.  Examples of countries that practice authoritarianism include Norway, New Zealand and Sweden.  Even Nigeria under the military junta of Sani Abacha is a close example.

Characteristics of authoritarianism
  1. Authoritarianism in most cases denotes the absence of free elections and the presence of uncontrolled power.  In this form of government, the powers exhibited by the leaders are used especially because of the unpopularity of the government of the day and its policies.
  2. Although many authoritarian leaders get into power through elections, they do so by force and violence.  They usually will use the instrument of coup de tat- meaning overthrowing or dethroning the existent government.
  3. In many cases, authoritarian leaders do not seek to control every aspect of society, their main goal is simply the preservation of their own political power.
  4. These are common features of authoritarian states: a degree of oppression imposed upon the citizens, amount of force, repression and violence used to achieve their goals, degree of enforced public conformity through such means suppressing of intellectual freedom, degree of public support that they enjoy and expression of principles that are generally at odds with the norms.
  5. All sources of information are censored. Freedom of speech, assembly, is very limited.
  6. No independent judicial system.
  7. Usually, they are one-party states.
  1. It reduces the time needed to make decisions: Leaders using this style do not need to consult anyone. Instead of bothering to go through bureaucracies, they just give orders so the teams immediately start work.
  2. It can provide a boost in productivity; when processes are clear for team members then everyone on the team is able to set on focus on the task already given.
  3. It produces a consistent result in small group situations; when working in a small group there can be a leadership gap. You might everyone thinking of themselves as leaders  so when the authoritarian leader shows up, it is difficult to contest.
  1. It may cause some employees to rebel. People would usually not want to work with dictators, bossy or authoritarian leaders.
  2. It creates moments of security within the leadership.
  3. It does not allow feedback.
  4. It causes everyone to rely on the experiences, expertise of the leader.


This is the rule by an elite that exercises unlimited power over individuals of all aspect of life.  It is a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete willingness to obey orders unquestionably.  It prohibits opposition parties, restricts individual oppositions to the state and its claims.  It also exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private lives.  It is regarded as the most extreme form of authoritarianism.   Examples of countries with this kind of government include Adolf Hitler of Germany- he employed the means as a style to achieve an obedient nation as was his vision a the time, Benito Mussolini of Italy in 1922- became a leader and began to rule as a totalitarian and North Korea that has been ruled over the years since 1948 by the same family.

Notable differences between authoritarianism and totalitarianism
Authoritarianism Totalitarianism
Authoritarian regime places all of the power into a single dictator or group- that is political. In Totalitarian regimes, the leadership controls nearly all aspects of the state from economical to political to social and cultural. Totalitarians control education, art, science, private lives of residents. This style of governance is limitless.


In our next class, we will be talking about Communalism, Feudalism, Fascism.  We hope you enjoyed the class.

Should you any further question, feel free to ask in the comment section below and trust us to respond as soon as possible.

Get more class notes, videos, homework help, exam practice on Android [DOWNLOAD]

Get more class notes, videos, homework help, exam practice on iPhone [DOWNLOAD]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don`t copy text!