Politics in Minutes (2016)


The term ‘republic’ can be used to describe any number of different types of state governed by elected leaders rather than a hereditary monarchy or dictatorship. As such, all republics are to a greater or lesser extent democratic states by definition. But not all democracies choose to call themselves ‘republic’, and many are at least nominally monarchies. Like democracy itself, republics have roots in the Ancient Greek and Roman states that for a time displaced the old kingdoms. Although some republican city-states were established in the Renaissance period, it wasn’t until the late 18th century that absolute monarchies began to be replaced by national republics. Some 200 years later, they are the most common form of government. Some of the older nations retain royal families with no real political power alongside democratically elected parliaments in a ‘constitutional monarchy’. One of the oldest of these, Britain, was for a time a republican-style ‘Commonwealth’, but actually restored its monarchy, albeit with greater powers retained by the Parliament.