Republican Government – Definition, Features & Examples
Definition of Republican Government
Republicanism Government is a system of government in which the supreme power in the state rests in the people and their elected representatives. Republicanism is a form of representative government.
The concept is derived from the word republic. Republicanism is a form of government in which the head of state is an elected president and not a hereditary ruler. It therefore refers to a system of government in which sovereign power is widely vested in the people either directly or through their elected representatives.
In short a republician government may be defined as a form of government in which the Head of State is elected for a fixed term of office.
Republicanism in Nigeria Politics
A Republican Government or Republicanism is a form of government in which sovereign of the state is headed by a president, directly or indirectly elected by the people for a fixed term of office.
Unlike a monarchy, succession to the office of head of state is non hereditary but elective. It is a representative Democracy in which government is by the consent of the people.
Nigeria, so far, has succeeded in operating for four republics. The first was 1963 and 1966, the second was between 1979 and 1983 and the third was aborted and the fourth was from 1999 – 2005. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was elected a President (a ceremonial Head of State) in a parliamentary/cabinet system of government.
In the second Republic (1979 – 1983), Alhaji Shehu Shagari was elected Executive President for the country as both head of state and government under a presidential system of government.
Similarly, the third Republic was truncated under Ibrahim Babangida.
The Nigeria Fourth Republic, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo he was elected president, head of state and government (1999-2007). Cameroon, Niger, Chad, U.S.A., India etc are examples of Republican Government.
Features of Republican Government
The main features of republicanism may therefore be summarised as follows:
- Popular Representation
It is a government based on popular representation. Different interests in the society are represented by elected representatives.
- Popular Election
Succession to different political office is through popular elections.
- Periodic Elections
Elections are usually periodic. In some political systems, it could be every four or five years as the case may be.
- Limitations to the Exercise of Powers
There are limitations to the exercise of Power by political leaders.
- Rule of Law
There is the supremacy of the constitution and rulers must abide by its officials.
- Political Responsibility
The political leaders must be responsive and accountable to the people they are representing.
- Term of Office
Leaders can only hold office for a fixed term or only during ‘good behaviour’. For example, the second and third Republic constitutions in Nigeria’s presidential system of government allow for two terms of eight years.
- Popular Sovereignty
Popular sovereignty is with the people. The people have the ultimate Power to elect their political leaders.
- Equality of Citizens
All citizens have equal opportunity to vote or to contest any elective posts in the system.
Characteristics of Republican Form of Government
Republicanism has the following features:
- The president is the head of state. There is no room for hereditary head of state.
- Legislators and leading members of the executive are usually elected.
- Political leadership is usually based on merit rather than heredity.
- The power to remove the president or prime minister is usually vested in the people or their elected representatives.
- The government is accountable to the people.
- Every citizen may aspire to the topmost political office in the state.
- Republicanism is a democratic form of government since the political leaders are elected by the people.
- It can be used in small or large countries.
- Elections are usually held at regular intervals to select political leaders e.
g four years, five years, six years etc.
- The constitution is supreme.