What Is A Republic?

A¬†republic¬†is a king-less form of¬†government¬†that has no¬†monarchy¬†and no hereditary¬†aristocracy. It originates from Rome, in 509 B.C. when the Romans overthrew the¬†Roman kingdom. Once free, the Romans established a republic, a government in which citizens elected representatives to rule on their behalf. The national¬†sovereignty¬†lies in the authority of the government and not in an emperor or monarch. The word republic comes from the¬†Latin¬†language words¬†res publica, which means a “public thing”. For example, the¬†United States¬†is a republic and¬†India¬†is a republic, but¬†North Korea¬†and¬†Cuba¬†are also called republics. However,¬†Britain¬†and¬†Canada¬†are¬†not¬†republics, since they have a monarch (Queen Elizabeth II in both cases).

The Head of State in a republic is generally a person who has been chosen by the citizens, either by direct election or by a group of elected representatives to act as the top representative of the people. In most republics, the Head of State is called the president. In some countries, the president is elected and has a lot of political power. In others, the president does not hold much direct power, but is important in the legal system for other reasons.

Sometimes a state is called a “republic” when its head is not called “king” but something else. For example, the¬†Roman Empire¬†had an “Emperor” and the¬†Dutch Republic¬†had a “Stadholder” but they worked as¬†hereditary monarchs. Licchavi¬†in¬†India¬†was the first republic in the 6th and 5th century BCE. The earliest republics that were much imitated later were¬†Greek¬†cities in the eastern¬†Mediterranean¬†area. The biggest difference from other¬†city-states¬†at that time was that people chose their leaders by¬†voting. The votes were counted, and the person with the most votes won.

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