Rousseau classified governments again in the three classes—autocratic, aristocratic and democratic. Bluntschli accepted Aristotle’s classification and added one more— theocratic state where God or some superhuman power rules.
In absolute or despotic monarchy the head of the state is a King or Queen, whose will is the law of the land. The King is all powerful. He is the fountain of justice, supreme executive authority and source of law. Kingship is mostly hereditary.
A dictatorship is a form of government where only one person exercises all the powers. Generally, he assumes power by force or political manipulation and rules as long as the people do not succeed in overthrowing him.
Famous dictators of recent times have been Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy.
Democracy is the form of government where the powers are exercised by the representatives of the common people. Democracy, as defined by Abraham Lincoln, is “government of the people, by the people and for the people”.
England, India and France have democratic form of government. Sovereignty in a democracy is vested in the community.
In limited monarchy, the power of the king or queen is limited by the constitution of the country. The monarch is usually the nominal head of the state and real powers are enjoyed by the ministers who are the representatives of the people. England is an example of a limited monarchy.
Republic is a state where head of the state is elected directly or indirectly by the people. The head of the State who is a President is elected for fixed term of years. As for instance France, U.S.A. and India are Republics.
In this form of government all the authority is vested in the Central Government. The country may be divided into provinces or units for administrative convenience, but these units do not enjoy distributive powers defined by the constitution.
Whatever powers they enjoy, they derive from the centre to whom they are answerable for the exercise of their powers. The centre may create or abolish these provinces and administrative units. As for example, England has unitary form of government.
Federal Government (Federation):
In federal form of government, the powers of administration are divided between the Central Government and the State or Provincial Governments. U.S.A., Canada and India are examples of federations. Sovereignty gets divided between the union and the units. There are two kinds of federations: centripetal and centrifugal. Centripetal federation is one which is formed out of separate sovereign states coming into a union by delegation of some of their sovereignty and powers.
The U.S.A. was formed by the original 3 states in this manner. Centrifugal federation is created out of a unitary state through delegation of authority to the units by the centre. India became a federation under the 1935 Act through this process. Federation needs to be distinguished from a confederation. While a federation is a solid union, the confederation is a loose union.
The former has its jurisdiction directly over the citizens and possesses its own independent legislative, executive and judicial organs. The confederation has no such organs and powers, nor has jurisdiction over citizens. It operates through independent and sovereign states that are its members.
Parliamentary or Cabinet form of Government:
A Cabinet (parliamentary) government is a government where all the powers are enjoyed by the Cabinet and chief executive head is only a nominal or titular head. The ministers are collectively responsible to the legislature. India and England, for instance, have parliamentary forms of government.
This form of government is based on theory of separation of powers, i.e., the executive and the legislature are two different and distinct organs.
The President is generally the chief executive head of this form of government and enjoys all powers vested in him by the constitution. He exercises both nominal and real powers.
The members of his cabinet are appointed by him and are responsible to him only and not to the legislature. This form of government exists in the U.S.A.