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Chris Fox's Politics Section

Politics is concerned with the government of society and with views on how society should be governed.

There are three types of political system. In a democracy, political power is held by the people, and may be exercised either directly by them (direct democracy) or on their behalf by freely chosen representatives (representative democracy). An oligarchy is ruled by a few people who govern in their own interests. A totalitarian society is also governed by a ruling elite, but this time in order to further a particular ideology. Anarchy does not count as a political system, given that it involves the absence of government.

The State consists of those official institutions that organise the communal life of a country. It has three parts. The executive, which consists of the government and the civil service, executes legislation and devises policies. The legislature devises and passes legislation and holds the government to account. The judiciary interprets and enforces legislation.

A constitution, whether written or unwritten, should cover issues other than those already mentioned. Examples are the layers of government, the rights of citizens, the procedure for electing or appointing people to the institutions of the State and the frequency of those elections or appointments.

Where the constitution so allows, people may participate in politics in such ways as campaigning in line with their views, voting in elections and standing for election. To further their views, they may join a pressure group where they can pool resources and co-operate to achieve common goals. Similarly, they may join a political party for the purpose of contesting elections.

Given that different groups of people have different interests, and given the possibility that one's interests and experiences influence not only one's opinion of what should be done but also one's view of the common good, a number of philosophies exist. Political philosophies differ by their views on personal freedom, constitutional issues, economics and other issues.

Another area of interest is international relations. Conflict resolution and trade are two of the obvious issues with which an international organisation might be concerned. There is also the question of whether international organisations should be purely deliberative organisations or supranational layers of government.

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