The course syllabus for PAD 170: Government and Politicscovers some of the following terms or concepts. Students are advised to read carefully and understand these terms clearly so that they will have no problem in answering examination questions.


 Absolute Monarchy

 A form of government in which a hereditary ruler of a country, such as a king, queen or emperor, has complete and unlimited (absolute) power to rule is called absolute monarchy. Some examples of absolute monarchies are: Saudi Arabia, Swaziland, Oman, Brunei Darussalam and Qatar.



 It is a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (i.e. absolute rule not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition, etc). As a political system, an authoritarian government  is anti-democratic in that political power is concentrated in a leader or small elite not constitutionally responsible to those governed. It maintains and enforces control through the use of oppressive measures. It differs from totalitarianism in that authoritarian governments usually lack a guiding ideology; they  tolerate some pluralism in social organization; and lack the power to mobilize the whole population in pursuit of national goals. Authoritarian regimes grant wide powers to law enforcement agencies; in the extreme this leads to a police state.


Authoritarian regimes may or may not have a   rule of law.  In the former case,  laws are enacted and though they may seem intrusive, unjust or excessive, they are applied to common people. In the latter case,  laws do not exist or are routinely ignored - government actions follow the judgments or whims of officials. Absolute monarchies and dictatorships are always authoritarian. It has been argued that countries with authoritarian regimes are more likely to be economically successful than democratic countries. Examples given to support this argument are South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, which were authoritarian during their period of growth. This idea of developmental authoritarianism is a central justification used by the Communist Party of China to justify its authoritarian rule of the People's Republic of China (PRC).  One counter-argument is that there are many instances of authoritarian nations that have not made rapid growth, for example the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia. In post-war Europe, Spain under Francisco Franco's authoritarian regime was considerably less economically developed than neighbouring countries such as France, even though France's infrastructure was devastated by World War II and Spain's was not, and that in the democracy that was established after Franco's death, Spain's economy boomed.




It is a form of government that is ruled by a single leader or party with unlimited powers. Examples of historic autocratic regimes are Haiti under the Duvaliers, the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos, and Spain under Franco. Contemporary examples are Cuba under Fidel Castro and Libya under Muammar Qaddafi.


Bicameral Legislature


It is a legislature or parliament which consists of two chambers or houses. The Malaysian Parliament is an example of a bicameral legislature. It comprises two houses - the lower house known as the  House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat) and the upper house known as the Senate (Dewan Negara). Other countries that have a bicameral legislature are: the United States of America; United Kingdom: Australia, Japan and  Canada.




It is a proposed law introduced in a legislature for consideration and approval.



It is a large organisation in which appointed office- holders (pemegang jawatan) have defined functions, duties  and titles. They follow formal and fixed  rules and regulations and procedures. There is a hierarchy of authority (kedudukan susunan). Other characteristics of bureaucracy are: officials are  selected on the basis of qualifications and experience; division of work and work specialization;  impersonal relations between officials;  permanent tenure  and promotion based on merit.



It is a body of persons appointed by a Head of State or a Prime Minister to serve as heads of government departments and to act as official advisers.


In most governments, members of the Cabinet are given the title of Minister, and each holds a different portfolio of government duties (“Minister of Education”, “Minister of Finance”, etc). In some governments, as in the case of the United States of America and the Philippines, the title of Secretary is also used for Cabinet members (“Secretary of State”, etc). The Ministers are drawn from the members of parliament and they represent the executive branch of the government. In Malaysia, according to Article 43 (2) (a) of the Federal Constitution, the Prime Minister must be a member of the House of Representatives. Cabinet Ministers may be either  members of the Senate or the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister is the head of the Cabinet. The Cabinet is responsible to parliament for the conduct of the administration. The Cabinet collectively decides the government's policies and programmes.


Checks and Balances


It is a system in which each of the three branches of government is given the means to check the actions  of the others.


Civil service


It refers to the entire body of government officials employed in the civil administration (i.e. government departments or agencies) as distinct from the military and excluding elected officials.  They help run the machinery of government. The civil service is the permanent and non-political executive.


Finer defines the civil service as “a body of officials, permanent, paid and skilled”. Civil servants are career employees usually chosen by an open competitive examination and promoted on the basis of a merit-and-seniority system. The role of the civil servants is to carry out the activities, laws,  policies and programmes  of the government and to act as advisors to the Ministers under whom they work. The Civil Service is also known as the Public Service in Malaysia.


Coalition Government


It is a parliamentary government in which several parties form an alliance and co-operate in joint action, each in its own self-interest.  Countries that have a coalition government include Malaysia, Germany, Italy, Turkey, India, and Switzerland.


Collective Responsibility

 This concept applies generally to Cabinet governments and it means that members of the Cabinet must publicly support and defend all decisions and policies made in the Cabinet and share responsibility for them, even if they do not privately agree with them.  If a Cabinet member cannot agree with his colleagues on a matter of general policy or on a single major issue, he should resign. This principle or doctrine is related to the fact that, if a vote of no confidence is passed in parliament, the government is responsible collectively, and thus the entire government resigns. The consequence will be that a new government will be formed, or parliament will dissolve and a general election will be called.




In politics, Congress (“a gathering of people”) is the name of the main legislative body in a country that operates under a congressional system of government.  The bicameral  legislature of the United States of America, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, is commonly known as the US Congress.


Constitutional Government


It refers to a government in which a constitution places clearly recognized limits on the powers of those who govern. In other words, the government is run strictly according to the powers given to it by the constitution. It is also called constitutionalism. In a constitutional government the freedom and rights of the people are protected and the powers of the government are limited by the constitution.


Constitutional Monarchy


It is a form of government in which a king or queen with limited governmental powers serves mainly as the ceremonial or nominal Head of State. In other words, the Head of State acts or exercises power in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. This means that the powers of the monarch are limited by the constitution. Malaysia, United Kingdom, Belgium, Thailand, Denmark, Jordan, Norway, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands are some of the countries with a constitutional monarchy. It is also known as Limited Monarchy.




It means government by the people,  exercised either directly or through elected representatives.  Individual freedom (freedom of speech, assembly and association, freedom of the press, right to education, right to own property, freedom of religion); majority rule with protection of minority rights; periodic free and open elections to choose leaders; competing political parties; the right to vote and stand for elections; an independent judiciary and the rule of law are the essential characteristics of a democratic government.


Dewan Negara

 It is the upper house of the Malaysian parliament. It consists of 70 members. Each state

 legislative  assembly elects  two members and the rest are appointed by the YDPA.   

Dewan Rakyat

It is the lower house of the Malaysian parliament. It is an elected chamber and has 222 members. 

 Election Commission

 The Election Commission of Malaysia was set up for the purpose of regulating and conducting elections in Malaysia. It was set up on 4th September 1957 in accordance with Article 114 of the Federal Constitution. It consists of a Chairman, a Deputy Chairman and five other members. Members of the Commission are appointed by His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after consultation with the Conference of Rulers. In appointing members of the Commission, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong “shall have regard to the importance of securing an Election Commission which enjoys public confidence.”


The main functions of the Election Commission are:

(a) To conduct review and delimitation Parliamentary and State Constituency boundaries at intervals of not less than eight years, following the completion of the last review;


        (b) To carry out registration of electors and revision of electoral rolls; and


            (c) To conduct general elections to the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat,

                  the lower house  of parliament) and the Legislative Assemblies of the States (Dewan

                  Undangan Negeri); and


            (d) To undertake by-elections arising out of casual vacancies.


The objective of the Election Commission is to uphold, supervise and maintain the democratic process and the system of parliamentary democracy in Malaysia through free and fair, efficient and transparent elections.


Electoral System

It refers to laws, methods, procedures and rules used for counting  votes to determine the outcome of elections. It is also known as voting system (sistem pilihanraya). Malaysia adopts the first-past-the-post electoral system to determine the winning party.



It is the second branch or organ of the government, which is responsible for the day-to-day management of the State - i.e. responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws, policies and programmes of the government.


In many countries, it is referred to simply as the “government”. The executive is headed by the Head of Government (Prime Minister) and is assisted by a number of ministers, who usually have responsibilities for particular areas (e.g. health, education, finance, trade, defence, foreign affairs), and by a large number of government employees or civil servants.  


In a modern government, the executive also directs relations with foreign governments, commands the armed forces, initiates and  recommends legislation (laws), and in some countries summons and opens the legislature, appoints and dismisses some executive officials, and pardons any but those impeached. Usually the executive may also issue executive orders, often supplementing legislative acts, and may interpret statutes for the guidance of officials.


Federal System


It is a form of government in which  there is a division or sharing of power between a central government and several provincial or state governments. Malaysia, the  United States of America, India, Canada and Australia are examples of a Federal system of government.


Federal systems of government have a written and rigid constitution to avoid disputes between the two levels of government. A federal system is also known as a federation or federalism.



 It refers to the organization that is the governing authority of a State. Governments concern themselves with regulating and administering many areas of human activity - such as provision of various services - trade, education, health, defence, internal security, transportation, communication, agriculture, social welfare, etc; administration of justice; formulation and enforcement of public policies and laws; maintenance of law and order and conduct of foreign affairs.


 House of Commons


It is the lower house of the British Parliament, the members of which are elected during the general election. It is commonly referred to as “the Commons.” The membership of the House of Commons currently stands at 659.


House of Lords


It is the upper house of the British Parliament, the members of which are appointed by the Queen. It is commonly referred to as “the Lords.” Currently there are about 745 members. There is no maximum limit to its membership.


Independence of the Judiciary


This principle means that the judiciary should decide matters and cases before it impartially on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law in each case, without any restrictions, improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences from the Executive or the Legislature or from private or political interests.


In most cases, judicial independence is secured by giving judges security of tenure and making them not easily removable. The principle of the independence of the judiciary entitles and requires the judiciary to ensure that judicial proceedings are conducted fairly and that the rights of the parties are respected.  An independent judiciary is the key to upholding the rule of law, protection of human rights and liberties in a democratic society.


Individual  Ministerial Responsibility


This concept  (doctrine) means that as political head of a Department or Ministry, a Minister is responsible or answerable or accountable  for all its acts or omissions. He must also bear the consequences of any defect or weakness or negligence in administration, any injustice to an individual or any aspect of policy, which may be criticized in Parliament, whether or not he is personally responsible.


The responsibility of Ministers for their Departments is one effective way of bringing the Government under public control and scrutiny. The knowledge that any departmental action may be reported to and examined in parliament discourages the taking of arbitrary, ill-considered or irresponsible decisions and high-handed action.



It is a process by which ordinary citizens, rather than legislators, propose laws or constitutional amendments and place them before voters for approval. In other words, It is a form of  participatory or direct democracy that empowers the people to propose legislation and to enact or reject the laws at the polls,  independent of the law-making power of the legislature. The purpose of the an initiative, which is a type of election commenced and carried out by the people, is to permit the electorate to resolve questions where their elected representatives fail to do so or refuse to proceed with a change that the public desires. For commencing an initiative,  a petition must be signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters (usually about 5 to 15%).


The initiative may take the form of either the direct or indirect initiative. Under the direct initiative, a proposal is put directly to a vote after being submitted by a petition. Under the indirect initiative,  a proposal is first referred to the legislature, and then only put to a popular vote if not enacted by the legislature. The initiative is only available or in use in  24 states in the United States, Switzerland and the Philippines.


Interest Group


It is a group of people who share common policy interests and concerns or goals and who organize to promote their cause, influence the government to achieve their objectives. Interest groups  are classified into economic groups (business, agriculture, labour); professional groups (medical, legal, engineering, education) and socio-cultural groups (pensioners, veteran associations, religious, racial, reform and women’s groups). 


Some examples of interest groups in Malaysia are: Malaysian Trade Unions Congress  (MTUC), CUEPACS, Malaysian Human Rights Society (HAKAM), Bar Council Malaysia, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), Sisters in Islam, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA), Malaysian Nature Society, Tenaganita, Friends of the Earth, Malaysia (Sahabat Alam Malaysia), Voice of the Malaysian People (SUARAM) and All-Women's Action Society of Malaysia (AWAM), Consumer Association of Penang (CAP).  Some international interest groups are: Amnesty International; Green Peace; Human Rights Watch. Interest groups are also known as Pressure Groups or NGOs.

Judicial Review

 It refers to the power of a superior court to declare legislative or   executive acts (actions of  public officials) unconstitutional or unlawful.




The judiciary is the third branch of the government. The primary purpose of the judiciary is to settle disputes by interpreting and applying the law. In other words, it is responsible for the administration of justice in the country.


The judicial branch is made up of the court system. The Federal Court is the highest (apex)  court in Malaysia.  Article 121 (2) of the Federal Constitution established this Court. Courts decide arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and settle cases that come  before them.



 It is law passed by parliament. In Malaysia, it is also called an Act of Parliament or statute.




A legislature is a type of representative and deliberative assembly with the power to enact, amend and repeal laws.  Legislatures are known by many names, the most common being Parliament and Congress. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to impose or abolish (memansuhkan)  taxes, approve the national budget and other money bills and control the Executive. The consent of the legislature is also often required to ratify treaties and declare war.


Liberal Democracy


It is a modern Western political system (form of government) characterized by the right to vote regardless of race, gender or property ownership (universal adult suffrage), free and fair elections, political equality, majority rule with protection of minority rights and liberties, constitutionalism (limited government), rule of law, several political parties, political decisions made through an independent legislature and  an independent judiciary.


The rights and freedoms protected by the constitutions of liberal democracies are varied, but they usually include most of the following: rights to due process, privacy, property, education, equality before the law, and freedoms of speech, assembly and association and movement and religion. There is general agreement that the European states, Japan, the United States, Canada, India, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are liberal democracies. A liberal democracy may take the form of a constitutional republic or a constitutional monarchy.


Limited Government


It refers to the principle that the powers of government are restricted by a constitution. In Malaysia, for example, Article 40 (1) of the Federal Constitution states that in the exercise of his functions, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as Head of State, shall act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet. It is also known as constitutionalism.




It is an effort by representatives of an interest group (lobbyists) to influence law-makers (parliamentary members) and government officials to support their point of view on an issue or their cause.


         Lok Sabha


Lok Sabha is the lower house of parliament in India. It is composed of representatives of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of adult suffrage. The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution is 552, up to 530 members to represent the states, up to 20 members to represent the Union Territories and not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian Community to be nominated by the President, if, in his opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the House.


The Lok Sabha at present consists of 545 members including the Speaker and two nominated members.  The total elective membership is distributed among the states in such a way that the ratio between the number of seats allotted to each state and the population of the state is, so far as practicable, the same for all states.  The total number is divided among the 28 States and the 7 Union Territories.



It is a form of government in which there is a single Head of State, a monarch, with the title of King, Queen or Emperor, or Sultan. The monarch inherits the throne  for life (as in the United Kingdom) or is elected for a fixed period (as in Malaysia). When the monarch rules with full executive, legislative and judicial powers unlimited by constitutional or legal restrictions, the system is often referred to as an absolute monarchy. When the powers of the monarch are effectively limited or restricted by law  or  the constitution, the system is normally called  constitutional  or limited  monarchy.

 Money Bill


A money bill is a proposed law that concerns taxation and government spending. It is also known as supply bill. According to Article 67 of the Malaysian Constitution. A money bill can only originate in the Dewan Rakyat and it shall not be introduced in the Dewan Negara. 


Article 67 (1) of our Constitution clearly specifies that provisions concerning raising or abolishing of taxes; government borrowing; the maintenance of the Consolidated Fund; expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund; the payment of moneys received by the government into the Consolidated Fund; the withdrawal of money from the Consolidated Fund to meet public expenditure; cancellation of loans due to the Federal Government; grants to states; giving guarantees to public bodies; and the amendment of the law relating to the financial obligations of the Federal Government are  “money bills”. The Speaker of the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat)  is required to certify a money bill.

 Multi-Party System

It is party system in which there are three or more major contenders for power. These political parties have the capacity  to gain control of government separately or in coalition. A multi-party system is essential for representative democracies, because it prevents the leadership of a single party from deciding and formulating policies without any input from others.

Neutrality of the Civil Service

This concept means that civil servants, as permanent and non-political employees of the government, should serve any government (government of the day) with enthusiasm, integrity, impartiality and   disinterestedness. In other words, they must show political neutrality. They should not be aligned with any political party. For this reason, top civil servants are not allowed to take active part in politics. They should resign if they are keen to stand for election or participate in party politics. Since civil servants are the servants of the state, they have to apply the laws and policies of the state impartially and fairly.  While applying the laws of the state, they should not show any partiality or preference to any individual, any race or any group of individuals in society. They should be guided only by the application of equal law to everybody. In their relations with the public too civil servants must be impartial. This implies no discrimination. In a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society like Malaysia. It is vital that civil servants uphold this cardinal  principle.

Nominal Executive

It refers to a head of state who has no real powers, but one who acts on the advice of the Cabinet. He has limited powers under the constitution of a country. In Malaysia the YDPA is known as the nominal executive.  In the United Kingdom the Queen is the nominal executive.

Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)

A non-governmental organization is one that is not directly part of the structure of government. The United Nations describes  an NGO as ‘an organization that is neither government nor member state’. NGOs are non-profit -making bodies. They exist for a variety of purposes, usually to further the political or social goals of their members. Examples include improving the state of the natural environment, encouraging the observance of human rights, improving the welfare of the disadvantaged or alleviating poverty. 

However, there are a huge number of such organizations and their goals cover a broad range of political and philosophical positions. NGOs vary in their methods and strategies. Some act primarily as lobbyists, while others conduct programmes and activities. For instance, such an NGO as Oxfam, concerned with poverty alleviation, might provide needy people with the equipment and skills they need to find food and clean drinking water.

Another example of a NGO is Amnesty International, the largest Human Rights organization in the world. It forms a global community of human rights defenders with more than 1.5 million members, supporters and subscribers in over 150 countries. Examples of NGOs in Malaysia are: ERA Consumer; Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM); Yayasan Salam Malaysia; and National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO); SUARAM.

Non-Political Executive

They are permanent  and paid civil servants who are appointed on the basis of qualifications,  experience and merit. They are under the direction and control of the political executive (Ministers). They are  advisers to the political executive.  Ministers come and go, but the non-political executive provide continuity (kesinambungan) in government.

Parliamentary Government

It is a form of government in which the executive is composed of leading members of the legislature and is responsible to it. It is also called the cabinet system of government. Under this form of government, the majority party in the legislature forms the government. There is always a dual executive - nominal and real - in this system of government. Examples of countries that have a parliamentary system of government are: Malaysia, India, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, Denmark and Switzerland.

Plural Executive

It refers to a group of people who have the authority to govern a country. Decision and policy-making is in the hands of this group. In other words, the decisions are collective decisions. Examples of plural executive are: the Prime minister and his Cabinet ministers in democratic countries; and the Federal Council of Switzerland.


It refers to the struggle among the various groups in a society to control or influence the conduct and policies and programmes of the government.  In other words, it is concerned with the behaviour of groups and individuals in the society. According to David Easton, politics concerns “the interactions involved in the authoritative allocation of values.” Politics is also defined as 'the art and science of governing a country'.

Political Executive

The Executive belongs to a political party and is elected directly by the people during an election. The political executive is involved in policy-making and is responsible to the people.  Members of the political executive are heads of government  departments. The prime minister and his cabinet members in Malaysia and the President of USA  are examples of political executive. The political executive remains in office only so long as it commands the confidence of the majority members of the legislature.

Political Franchise

It is the right to vote (hak mengundi)  in a country's elections. It is also known as universal adult suffrage.

Political Party

A group of individuals with broad common interests who organize to nominate candidates for public office, win elections, conduct government and formulate and implement public policy.

Presidential Government

It is a system of government in which the Executive is not responsible to the legislature.  Under this form of government, the chief executive, known as the President, is elected directly or indirectly and is not part of the legislature (i.e. the executive is separate from the legislature). Examples of countries that have a presidential government are: the United States of America; Argentina; Brazil; Egypt; France; Kenya; the Philippines,  Mexico and Greece.

Pressure Group

See Interest Group

Public Administration

It refers to the management of the  various activities carried out by the government at the central, state and local levels. These activities include planning, formulating and implementing public policies; providing services such as education, health, defence, security, agriculture, communication and transportation; pension payments; controlling nation finance; welfare; raising and collecting  taxes; preparation and implementation of the national budget; planning and implementation of development projects; human resource management; garbage collection; licensing; provision of utilities such as water, electricity; conducting foreign policy; signing treaties and agreements with foreign governments. Public administration is also known as government administration.

Public Policy

The course of action a government takes in response to some political issues or to resolve some problems.

Governments formulate several policies and these could be classified   as economic, trade, fiscal (financial), energy, welfare, commercial, education, social, science and technology, information and communication technology (ICT), agriculture, health and foreign policies.

Rajya Sabha

The   Rajya Sabha, meaning the “Council of States”, is the upper house of the Parliament of India.  Membership is limited to 250 members, 12 of whom are chosen by the President of India for their expertise in specific fields of art, literature, science, and social services.

These members are known as nominated members. The remainder of the body is elected by state and territorial legislatures. Terms of office are for six years, with one third of the members facing re-election every two years.

Real Executive

In this type of Executive,  the Executive has actual and wide powers. It is directly involved in the administration of the country and has actual control over the country. It makes decisions and policies. Examples are: The Prime Minister and his Cabinet in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Canada, Australia and India.


A referendum (plural: ‘referendums’ or ‘referenda’) or plebiscite    is a direct vote in which all citizens or voters are asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may be the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a proposed law, a proposal to abolish a system of monarchy or  a form of government and replacing it with a new system, abolishing apartheid, separation of a region or province from a country, a merger of two countries or simply a specific government policy. The referendum or plebiscite is a form of direct democracy or direct legislation.

Representative Democracy

A system of government in which a small group is elected by the people during a general election to act as their representatives in making laws and conducting government.

Rule of Law

Rule of law means that the law is supreme. According to this principle, a government in power must act according to the law. It must respect the constitution and obey the rules of the constitution. Under the rule of law, those who make the laws are obliged to obey them just as any other member of the community. The rule of law (supremacy of law)  fosters among citizens awareness of their rights and duties, their recognition of political and social norms of conduct, from which follow the mutual trust and confidence essential for co-operation in a democratic society.


It is the upper house of parliament in countries with a bicameral legislature. The upper houses of Malaysia and the United States are  known as Senate.

Separation of Powers

Separation of powers is a political doctrine or concept or principle under which the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government are kept distinct or separate, to prevent abuse of power,  tyranny and violation of democratic rights and principles.

Single Executive

In this type of Executive, all political powers are in the hands of one person. He controls the government. He is both the head of State and head of government. Examples: the US President; absolute monarchies; and dictatorships (autocrats).

Single- Party System

A single-party system is a type of party-system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election.  

In most cases, parties other than the one in power are banned. Although other political parties are sometimes allowed under a single-party system, these other parties must subordinate themselves to the dominant party and cannot function as an opposition.  One-party systems often arise from decolonization because one party has had an overwhelmingly dominant role in liberation or in independence struggles. 

Supporters of a single-party state often appeal to a sense of unity, strength and commonality that a single-party government can lend a state. They argue that multi-party systems introduce too much division and are unsuitable for economic and political development. 

A common counter-argument is that one-party systems have a tendency to become rigid and unwilling to accept change, which renders them unable to deal with new situations and may result in their collapse.  Many, especially citizens under a government that permits more than one party, do not consider a single party system to be truly democratic. This is due, in part, to the perception that a single party represents a single choice for a voter, which is seen to be no choice at all.  Furthermore, the single-party system is heavily associated with dictatorship.  As there is only one party, political power tends to be concentrated solely within the ruling party. As a result, it is usually easy for the party in power to disregard previous laws or the constitution of the state, creating a dictatorship consisting of the party. People’s Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos, Syria, Singapore, Turkmenistan and Vietnam are examples of a single-party system States.


It is a modern autocratic government with a single party or leader, in which the State involves itself in all facets of society, including the daily life of its citizens. A totalitarian government seeks to control not only all economic and political matters but the attitudes, values, and beliefs of its population (i.e. private life), erasing the distinction between state and society.

The citizen's duty to the state becomes the primary concern of the community, and the goal of the state is the replacement of existing society with a perfect society. Totalitarian regimes maintain themselves in political power by means of single-party state, secret police, propaganda spread through the State-controlled media, personality cult, regulation and restriction of free discussion and criticism, the use of mass surveillance (spying) and widespread use of terror tactics (such as political purges and persecution of specific groups of people or opponents of government).

The states most commonly described as totalitarian are   the Soviet Union under Stalin, Germany  under Adolf Hitler, the People's Republic of China  (PRC) under Mao, Cuba under Fidel Castro and North Korea under Kim. 

       Two-Party System


A two-party system is a form of party system where two major political parties dominate the voting in nearly all elections.  As a result, all, or nearly all, elected offices end up being held by candidates endorsed by the two major parties.


In other words, it is a political system in which the electorate gives its votes largely to only two major parties and in which one or the other party can win a majority in the legislature. The United States of America and the United Kingdom are classic examples of nations with a two-party system.


Under a two-party system, one of two major parties typically holds a majority in the legislature (elected chamber) and is referred to as the Majority Party. The other major party is referred to as the Minority Party or the Opposition Party. 


The leader of the majority party may be referred to as the Majority Leader, and the leader of the major opposition party may be referred to as the Minority Leader or Opposition Leader. Examples of countries with a two-party system are: the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Portugal, Spain and Taiwan. 


In a two-party system, control of government power shifts or alternates between two dominant parties. Two-party systems most frequently develop when electoral victory requires only a simple plurality vote, that is, the winner gets the most votes, but not necessarily a majority of votes. In such a system, it makes sense for smaller parties to combine into larger ones or to drop out altogether.


Parliamentary governments in which the legislators are elected by plurality voting to represent distinct districts may develop party systems in which only two parties hold significant numbers of seats, as in Great Britain and Canada. Advocates of two-party systems believe they limit the dangers of excessive fragmentation and government stalemate. 


 However, in the United States, which separates the powers and functions of government 

 between executive, legislative, and judicial branches, it is possible for one party to

 control the legislature and  the other to control the executive branch. This frequently

 has  led to political deadlock between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

 Opponents of the two-party system also believe that in time the two parties increasingly

 tend to resemble each other and leave too many points of view out of the political


         Unicameral Legislature


It is a legislature or parliament consisting of a single house or chamber. Examples of countries with a unicameral legislature are: South Korea, Sweden, Slovenia, Singapore, Finland, Uganda, Portugal, Hungary, Iceland, Costa Rica, Denmark and New Zealand.


       Unitary System

The unitary system is a form of government which gives all the political powers to the central or national government. State, provincial, and local governments are all created by the central government. The non-central governments have only the powers  that are delegated to them  by the central government. Countries such as France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, China, Vietnam, North Korea, Singapore  and Cuba are some of the countries that use the unitary system of government.

       Universal Suffrage

 Universal suffrage (also known as  adult suffrage) consists of the extension of the right to vote to all adults, regardless of  race, religion, sex, belief or ideology  or economic or social status. 


This would include the  right to vote or stand for elections and participate in government, most often in a democracy. Article 119 (1) of the Malaysian Constitution   grants every citizen, who has attained the age of twenty-one years (21), the right to vote in a national election.

       Voting Behaviour

 It refers to the way people vote in elections and why they vote as they do - that is, the factors that determine the way people vote. In other words, it is about people’s desires, preferences (choices) and political attitudes during an election - what factors do they consider as most  important  before they vote for a candidate or a party in a general election (i.e. how do they decide who to vote for).



Copyright © Peter Johnson 2005-2013 (Updated)