What Government Will Egypt Choose?

(Image credit: ccas.georgetown.edu)

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down Feb. 11, bringing his 30-year-reign to an end and transferring the country's leadership position to the Egyptian armed forces. With a new ruling body, the country is on its way to reorganizing its government.

Egypt's Supreme Military Council is reportedly planning to fire the cabinet Mubarak selected the members before resigning and suspend both houses of parliament. The current plan is to follow the lead of the head of the supreme constitutional court, a move that appears to be a step toward making the Egyptian government more democratic.

There are many types of government, of course, so Egypt has some deciding to do. Below are the world's top five most common types of government. If Egypt's officials can't agree on one of these, here are a few dozen additional types of government .

1. RepublicA republic is a representative democracy in which citizens' elected officials not the people themselves vote on legislation. Therefore, the country's people are able to select who controls their government. Examples: Chile, Fiji and Madagascar. (The United States is a federal constitutional republic.)

2. Parliamentary democracy A political system in which parliament selects the government consisting of a prime minister and cabinet members according to party strength, which is determined in elections . In this way, the government has a dual responsibility: to the people as well as to the parliament. Examples: Bulgaria, Zimbabwe and the Cayman Islands.

3. Constitutional monarchyA system of government in which an individual ruler's, or monarch's, duties are guided by a constitution. The monarch follows the responsibilities, duties and rights spelled out for them in written law or by custom. This is different from an absolute monarchy, in which a monarch is not legally bound by any constitution. Examples: Denmark, Thailand and the Netherlands.

4. Federal republicA country in which the supremacy of the central government is restricted because voters have the ultimate sovereign power. The people choose their governmental representatives and the country's subdivisions (states, colonies or provinces) all retain a degree of self-government. This creates a division of power between the central government and the government of the individual subdivisions. Examples: Brazil, Germany and Venezuela.

5. Parliamentary republicA country with a parliamentary republic has a government without a clear-cut separation of the executive and legislative branches. There is, however, a clear division between the head of government and the head of state. But this division of power is uneven, with the head of government (usually called a prime minister) having more authority than the head of state. Examples: Greece, Singapore and Estonia.

The United States, in case you're wondering, functions as a federal constitutional republic.

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Remy Melina was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Hofstra University where she graduated with honors.