Democracy Vs. Monarchy


Many countries in the world are governed by a system called democracy, which is based upon the principle “government of the people for the people and by the people.” This means that the people who govern a country are elected by that country’s citizens. The officials who are elected for different offices vow to uphold the principles of social equality and individual rights.

In the democratic system such as the United States, the government is composed of three branches called: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches. The executive branch, which executes the law, is represented by the president and his cabinet. The legislative branch, which makes the law, is represented by congress. The judicial branch, which interprets the law, is represented by the supreme court, so we see that the functions of the three branches are different.

Another system of government is the monarchy, and there are two different types. Constitutional monarchies such as the United Kingdom are similar to democracies. The monarch has become a symbol, and the real power lies with the elected Prime Minister or Chancellor. Absolute monarchies are ruled by a royal figure such as a king, queen, emperor, or empress. In this system the monarch belongs to the royal family and has the right to claim the throne. Power is passed from generation to generation within the royal family according to rules of succession.

In America, the president is the head of the government, and is elected for a term that lasts four years. The President is not elected by direct vote of the people, but is indirectly elected by representative electors, who elect him when they meet in the Electoral College. Each state has a number of electors that is equal to its total number of congressional representatives. Since the number of congressional representatives is determined by the size of the state’s population, the most populated states have a larger number of electoral representatives. That is why presidential campaigns often concentrate on highly populated states such as New York, California, Texas, and Florida. Electors generally vote in accordance with the state’s popular vote but are not required by law to do so.

The cabinet is made up of a group of people that work with the president in different areas of the government, such as agriculture, defense, and education. The members of the cabinet are appointed by the President and approved by congress. Although the nomenclature for the members of the cabinet differs from country to country, they have the same functions in the government. In the United States we have secretaries such as: the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Agriculture, etc. In places like Europe, South America, and other parts of the world, the members of the cabinet are called ministers. Therefore, you have Minister of Defense, Minister of agriculture, Minister of Education, and so on.

Vocabulary and Expressions

Principle = collective of moral or ethical standards or judgments.
Govern = verb, to make and administer the public policy and affairs.
Equality = being equal.
Individual rights = rights that every person has under the constitution.
Monarch = one who reigns over a state or territory for life and hereditary right.
Throne = chair occupied by an exalted personage on the state of ceremonial occasions.
Nowadays = at the present day, in these times.
Secondary = here, belonging or pertaining to a second order, division, stage, period, rank, grade, etc.
Influential = having or exerting influence, esp. great influence.
Term = a period of time assigned to a person to serve.
Representatives = people authorized to act as official delegates.
Electoral College = an electoral body chosen to elect the U.S. President and Vice President.
To concentrate = to focus, gather, to direct one’s thoughts towards something.
Highly = adv. high + ly, similar to “very.”
Symbol = here, an image regarded as representing something else.
Nomenclature = systems of names use in arts or science.
Cabinet = (politics) body of persons appointed by the chief of staff or prime minister to head the executive departments of the government.

Conversation Activities

1. What kind of government does your country have?
2. How do people elect the president in your country?
3. How many branches of government are there in the government of your country?
4. How long does the presidential term in your country last?
5. Can a president be reelected right away in your country, or does he/she have to wait for certain period of time?
6. Does the head of a state have a lot of responsibilities, or it is an easy job?