Republican Government – Definition, Features & Examples
What is Republicanism?
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 Fourth Republic, ChiefOlusegunObasanjo he was elected president, head of state and government (1999-2007). Cameroon, Niger, Chad, U.S.A., Indiaetc are examples of Republican Government.
Features of Republican Government
The main features of republicanism may therefore be summarised as follows:
It is a government based on popular representation. Different interests in the society are represented by elected representatives.
Succession to different political office is through popular 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.
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 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.