Republic (government)

Introduction to Republic

Republic (government) (Latin res publica, literally “the public thing”), form of state based on the concept that sovereignty resides in the people, who delegate the power to rule in their behalf to elected representatives and officials. In practice, however, this concept has been variously stretched, distorted, and corrupted, making any precise definition of the term republic difficult. It is important, to begin with, to distinguish between a republic and a democracy. In the theoretical republican state, where the government expresses the will of the people who have chosen it, republic and democracy may be identical (there are also democratic monarchies). Historical republics, however, have never conformed to a theoretical model, and in the 20th century the term republic is freely used by dictatorships, one-party states, and democracies alike. Republic has, in fact, come to signify any form of state headed by a president or some similarly titled figure, and not a monarch.” (1)

Republic in Election Law

Form of state where the head of state’s office is not family inherited – as opposed to a monarchy – but is occupied by a common citizen on a fixed temporary term. The incumbent is normally elected by the people, either by direct vote or in an indirect manner by members of parliament who have been popularly elected. Today, most countries of the world are republics. The different forms of government or political regimes within a republic can be mainly classified as parliamentary or presidential systems. In a parliamentary system, the head of executive is usually a prime minister elected from the parliament. In a presidential system, the president who is elected in a general election is the head of the executive.

A South American “Pseudo-republic”: International Incident

In the book “International Incidents for Discussion in Conversation Classes”, in relation to this subject, L. Oppenheim wrote in 1909: The following appeared in the Times of April 26th, 1904:

“The utility for the practical politician of the study of that branch of sociology to which M. Lebon has given the non-classical name of the psychology of crowds is amusingly demonstrated in the fact of the efforts of the still nebulous State of Counany to materialize and to attain a separate and independent existence among the South American Republics. What is taking place would seem to be a simple phenomenon of suggestion, induced by the example of Panama. The fate of the vague territory known as Counany had been settled, as every one supposed, by the arbitral sentence of the Swiss Tribunal by which this region, with which France and Brazil had played diplomatic battledore and shuttlecock for more than 175 years, was finally handed over to the latter Power.

“Brazil has never, it appears, taken effective possession of Counany, and the population, whose flag, if ethnographic differences were to be symbolized in it, ought to be a sort of Joseph’s coat of many colours, are now apparently once more appealing to the civilized world to aid them to secure a separate existence. What recently occurred on the Isthmus of Panama, when a new State sprang full fledged into being, would seem to have been an object lesson acting automatically on the nerves of these Indians, whites, negroes, and half-castes, welding them into a compact whole and giving them a self-consciousness craving European sanction. Hypnotized by Panama, and, it may be, counting upon the eventual support of one of the Continental Powers which has already shown the world that Brazilian affairs are not beyond the range of its diplomatic vigilance, Counany steps once more to the fore.

“A Paris morning paper, the Journal, plays the rôle of introducer of the new Counany Ambassador. This Ambassador is a certain M. Brezet, who comes to France, in spite of the sentence of the arbitral tribunal, as President of a State which is described by all competent authorities as a pseudo-republic, summarily wiped off the map as an independent State. M. Brezet, moreover, is a Parisian who has served, it is said, in the French forces in Guiana. He is now for the second time enjoying the confidence of the Counanians, strong in the prestige won by his success in having repulsed the Brazilians who sought dutifully to carry out the terms of the clauses of the Berne Decree. ‘After having prepared the military and administrative reorganization of Counany, he has come on a mission to Europe to defend the interests entrusted to him.’ Such is the story reported by the Journal.

“Counany, now described as the vast territory between the Amazon and the two Guianas, is not merely a relatively accessible stretch of coast-line andHinterland for a certain enterprising European colonial Power, which has already prospected in Brazil, Venezuela, and the unknown world between the Amazon and the Orinoco. Counany is likewise on the high road of sea communication between the south of South America and the eventual link between the Atlantic and the Pacific, known as the Panama Canal. The Counany coast-line is a covetable strip of the South American coast which at more favourable moments might even distract our attention from Morocco.”


See Also

  • Election Law
  • Electoral Laws
  • Electoral Legislation


Notes and References

Guide to Republic

Hierarchical Display of Republic

Politics > Political framework > Political system


Concept of Republic

See the dictionary definition of Republic.

Characteristics of Republic

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Translation of Republic

Thesaurus of Republic

Politics > Political framework > Political system > Republic

See also