See F. Hermens, The Representative Republic (1958) and Introduction to Modern Politics (1959).
Government of Germany 1919–33, so named because the assembly that adopted its constitution met at Weimar in 1919. In its early years, the Weimar Republic was troubled by postwar economic and financial problems and political instability, but it had recovered considerably by the late 1920s. Its major political leaders included presidents Friedrich Ebert (1919–25) and Paul von Hindenburg (1925–34), as well as Gustav Stresemann, who was chancellor (1923) and foreign minister (1923–29). With the Great Depression, its political and economic collapse enabled Adolf Hitler to rise to power and become chancellor (1933), after which he suspended the Weimar constitution.
Learn more about Weimar Republic with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Learn more about Congo, Republic of the with a free trial on Britannica.com.
The early pre-Roman inhabitants of Britain (see Stonehenge) were Celtic-speaking peoples, including the Brythonic people of Wales, the Picts of Scotland, and the Britons of Britain. Celts also settled in Ireland circa 500 BC. Julius Caesar invaded and took control of the area in 55–54 BC. The Roman province of Britannia endured until the 5th century AD and included present-day England and Wales. Germanic tribes, including Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, invaded Britain in the 5th century. The invasions had little effect on the Celtic peoples of Wales and Scotland. Christianity began to flourish in the 6th century. During the 8th and 9th centuries, Vikings, particularly Danes, raided the coasts of Britain. In the late 9th century Alfred the Great repelled a Danish invasion, which helped bring about the unification of England under Athelstan. The Scots attained dominance in Scotland, which was finally unified under Malcolm II (1005–34). William of Normandy (see William I) took England in 1066. The Norman kings established a strong central government and feudal state. The French language of the Norman rulers eventually merged with the Anglo-Saxon of the common people to form the English language. From the 11th century, Scotland came under the influence of the English throne. Henry II conquered Ireland in the late 12th century. His sons Richard I and John had conflicts with the clergy and nobles, and eventually John was forced to grant the nobles concessions in the Magna Carta (1215). The concept of community of the realm developed during the 13th century, providing the foundation for parliamentary government. During the reign of Edward I (1272–1307), statute law developed to supplement English common law, and the first Parliament was convened. In 1314 Robert the Bruce (see Robert I) won independence for Scotland. The house of Tudor became the ruling family of England following the Wars of the Roses (1455–85). Henry VIII (1509–47) established the Church of England and incorporated Wales as part of England.
The reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603) began a period of colonial expansion; in 1588 British forces defeated the “invincible” Spanish Armada. In 1603 James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne, becoming James I, and established a personal union of the two kingdoms. The English Civil Wars erupted in 1642 between Royalists and Parliamentarians, ending in the execution of Charles I (1649). After 11 years of Puritan rule under Oliver Cromwell and his son (1649–60), the monarchy was restored with Charles II. In 1689, following the Glorious Revolution, Parliament proclaimed the joint sovereigns William III and Mary II, who accepted the British Bill of Rights. In 1707 England and Scotland assented to the Act of Union, forming the kingdom of Great Britain. The Hanoverians ascended the English throne in 1714, when George Louis, elector of Hanover, became George I of Great Britain. During the reign of George III, Great Britain's North American colonies won independence (1783). This was followed by a period of war (1789–1815) with Revolutionary France and later with the empire of Napoleon. In 1801 legislation united Great Britain with Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Britain was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century, and it remained the world's foremost economic power until the late 19th century. During the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901), Britain's colonial expansion reached its zenith, though the older dominions, including Canada and Australia, were granted independence (1867 and 1901, respectively).
The U.K. entered World War I allied with France and Russia in 1914. Following the war, revolutionary disorder erupted in Ireland, and in 1921 the Irish Free State (see Ireland) was granted dominion status. Six counties of Ulster, however, remained in the U.K. as Northern Ireland. The U.K. entered World War II in 1939. Following the war, the Irish Free State became the Irish republic and left the Commonwealth. India also gained independence from the U.K. Throughout the postwar period and into the 1970s, the U.K. continued to grant independence to its overseas colonies and dependencies. With UN forces, it participated in the Korean War (1950–53). In 1956 it intervened militarily in Egypt during the Suez Crisis. It joined the European Economic Community, a forerunner of the European Union, in 1973. In 1982 it defeated Argentina in the Falkland Islands War. As a result of continuing social strife in Northern Ireland, it joined with Ireland in several peace initiatives, which eventually resulted in an agreement to establish an assembly in Northern Ireland. In 1997 referenda approved in Scotland and Wales devolved power to both countries, though both remained part of the U.K. In 1991 the U.K. joined an international coalition to reverse Iraq's conquest of Kuwait (see Persian Gulf War). In 2003 the U.K. and the U.S. attacked Iraq and overthrew the government of
Learn more about United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland occupying the northeastern portion of the island of Ireland. Area: 5,461 sq mi (14,144 sq km). Population (2001): 1,685,267. Capital: Belfast. It is bounded by the republic of Ireland, the Irish Sea, the North Channel, and the Atlantic Ocean. Northern Ireland is often referred to as the province of Ulster. The people are descended from indigenous Irish and immigrants from England and Scotland. Language: English (official). Religions: Protestantism (the majority) and Roman Catholicism (a minority). Currency: pound sterling. Northern Ireland's industries include engineering, shipbuilding (which has been in severe decline), automobile manufacturing, textiles, food and beverage processing, and clothing. The service industry employs about three-fourths of the workforce, and manufacturing employs less than one-fifth of workers. Agriculture is important, with most farm income derived from livestock. Northern Ireland shares most of its history with the republic of Ireland, though Protestant English and Scots immigrating in the 16th–17th centuries tended to settle in Ulster. In 1801 the Act of Union created the United Kingdom, which united Great Britain and Ireland. In response to mounting Irish sentiment in favour of Home Rule, the Government of Ireland Act was adopted in 1920, providing for two partially self-governing units in Ireland: the northern six counties constituting Northern Ireland and the southern counties now making up the republic of Ireland. In 1968 civil rights protests by Roman Catholics sparked violent conflicts with Protestants and led to the occupation of the province by British troops in the early 1970s. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) mounted a prolonged campaign of violence in an effort to force the withdrawal of British troops as a prelude to Northern Ireland's unification with Ireland. In 1972 Northern Ireland's constitution and parliament were suspended, bringing the province under direct rule by the British. Violence continued for three decades before dropping off in the mid-1990s. In 1998 talks between the British government and the IRA resulted in a peace agreement that provided for extensive Home Rule in the province. In 1999 power was devolved to an elected assembly, though the body was hampered by factional disagreements. Sporadic sectarian strife continued in the early 21st century, as the IRA gradually carried out decommissioning (disarming).
Learn more about Northern Ireland with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Island and province (pop., 2000: 118,350), Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea. The island has an area of 3,340 sq mi (8,651 sq km) and is about 220 mi (350 km) long. The terrain is largely mountainous. The province includes many nearby smaller islands. It was discovered by Dutch navigators in 1616 but was little known before 1884, when it became part of a German protectorate. After World War I it was mandated to Australia. The island was occupied by the Japanese in World War II. When Papua New Guinea gained independence in 1975, it became part of that country. Most of the inhabitants live in the north. Copra production dominates commercial development.
Learn more about New Ireland with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Learn more about Ireland with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Learn more about Moldova with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Learn more about Madagascar with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Learn more about Cambodia with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Republic founded in March 1798, constituting the greater part of Switzerland, after it had been conquered by France in the French Revolutionary Wars. The government was patterned after that of the Directory in France. Delegates called on Napoleon to mediate in factional disputes, and in 1803 he substituted a new Swiss Confederation for the republic, forcing it into close association with France.
Learn more about Helvetic Republic with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Former state (1581–1795), about the size of the modern kingdom of The Netherlands. It consisted of the seven northern Netherlands provinces that formed the Union of Utrecht in 1579 and declared independence from Spain in 1581 (finally achieved in 1648). Political control shifted between the province of Holland and the princes of Orange. In the 17th century the Dutch Republic developed into a world colonial empire far out of proportion to its resources, emerging as a centre of international finance and a cultural capital of Europe. In the 18th century the republic's colonial empire was eclipsed by that of England. In 1795 the Dutch Republic collapsed under the impact of a Dutch democratic revolution and invading French armies.
Learn more about Dutch Republic with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Learn more about Dominican Republic with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Learn more about Czech Republic with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Learn more about Congo, Republic of the with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Learn more about Congo, Democratic Republic of the with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Former republic, northern Italy. Created by Napoleon in 1797 from conquered territories, it was centred in the Po River valley and included the lands around Milan and Bologna. It was incorporated into the Napoleonic kingdom of Italy in 1805.
Learn more about Cisalpine Republic with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Learn more about Central African Republic with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Republic of the Netherlands after it was conquered by France in 1795. Its government, set up in 1798, was bound to France by alliance. In 1805 Napoleon renamed it the Batavian Commonwealth and placed executive power in the hands of a dictator. In 1806 it was replaced by the Kingdom of Holland under the rule of Louis Bonaparte; it was incorporated into the French empire in 1810.
Learn more about Batavian Republic with a free trial on Britannica.com.
If the head of state of a republic is at the same time the head of government, this is called a presidential system (example: United States). In semi-presidential systems and parliamentary republics, where the head of state is not the same person as the head of government, the latter is usually termed prime minister, premier or chancellor. Depending on what the president's specific duties are (for example, advisory role in the formation of a government after an election), and varying by convention, the president's role may range from the ceremonial and apolitical to influential and highly political. The Prime Minister is responsible for managing the policies and the central government. The rules for appointing the president and the leader of the government, in some republics permit the appointment of a president and a prime minister who have opposing political convictions: in France, when the members of the ruling cabinet and the president come from opposing political factions, this situation is called cohabitation. In countries such as Germany and India, however, the president needs to be strictly non-partisan.
In some countries, like Switzerland and San Marino, the head of state is not a single person but a committee (council) of several persons holding that office. The Roman Republic had two consuls, appointed for a year by the senate. During the year of their consulship each consul would in turn be head of state for a month at a time, thus alternating the office of consul maior (the consul in power) and of consul suffectus (the subordinate consul who retained some independence, and held certain veto powers over the consul maior) for their joint term.
Republics can be led by a head of state that has many of the characteristics of a monarch: not only do some republics install a president for life, and invest such president with powers beyond what is usual in a representative democracy, examples such as the post-1970 Syrian Arab Republic show that such a presidency can apparently be made hereditary. Historians disagree when the Roman Republic turned into Imperial Rome: the reason is that the first Emperors were given their head of state powers gradually in a government system that in appearance did not originally much differ from the Roman Republic.
Similarly, countries usually qualified as monarchies can have many traits of a republic in terms of form of government. The political power of monarchs can be non-existent, limited to a purely ceremonial function or the impact by the people on the country's government can be exerted to the extent that they appear to have the power to have their monarch replaced by another one.
The often assumed "mutual exclusiveness" of monarchies and republics as forms of government is thus not to be taken too literally, and largely depends on circumstances:
For this reason, in political science the several definitions of "republic", which in such a context invariably indicate an "ideal" form of government, do not always exclude monarchy: the evolution of such definitions of "republic" in a context of political philosophy is treated in republicanism. However, such theoretical approaches appear to have had no real influence on the everyday use (that is: apart from a scholar or "insider" context) of the terminology regarding republics and monarchies.
The least that can be said is that Anti-Monarchism, the opposition to monarchy as such, did not always play a critical role in the creation and/or management of republics. For some republics, not choosing a monarch as head of state, could as well be a practical rather than an ideological consideration. Such "practical" considerations could be, for example, a situation where there was no monarchical candidate readily available. However, for the states created during or shortly after the Enlightenment the choice was always deliberate: republics created in that period inevitably had anti-monarchical characteristics. For the United States the opposition of some to the British Monarchy played a role, as did the overthrow of the French Monarchy in the creation of the first French Republic. By the time of the creation of the Fifth Republic in that country "anti-monarchist" tendencies were barely felt. The relations of that country to other countries made no distinctions whether these other countries were "monarchies" or not.
This would change, for instance, by the cuius regio, eius religio from the Treaty of Augsburg (1555): this treaty, applicable in the Holy Roman Empire and affecting the numerous (city-)states of Germany, ordained citizens to follow the religion of their ruler, whatever Christian religion that ruler chose - apart from Calvinism (which remained forbidden by the same treaty). In France the king abolished the relative tolerance towards non-Catholic religions resulting from the Edict of Nantes (1598), by the Edict of Fontainebleau (1685). In the United Kingdom and in Spain the respective monarchs had each established their favoured brand of Christianity, so that by the time of the Enlightenment in Europe (including the depending colonies) there was not a single absolute monarchy that tolerated another religion than the official one of the state.
In absence of a monarchy, there can be no monarch pushing towards a single religion. As this had been the general perception by the time of the Enlightenment, it is not so surprising that republics were seen by some Enlightenment thinkers as the preferable form of state organisation, if one wanted to avoid the downsides of living under a too influential state religion. Rousseau, an exception, envisioned a republic with a demanding state "civil religion":
Several states that called themselves republics have been fiercely anti-religious. This is particularly true for communist republics like the (former) Soviet Republics, North Vietnam, North Korea, and China.
As a preliminary remark, the concept of "one equal vote per adult" did not become a generically-accepted principle in democracies until around the middle of the 20th century: before that in all democracies the right to vote depended on one's financial situation, sex, race, age, or a combination of these and other factors. Many forms of government in previous times termed "democracy", including for instance the Athenian democracy, would, when transplanted to the early 21st century be classified as plutocracy or a broad oligarchy, because of the rules on how votes were counted.
In a Western approach, warned by the possible dangers and impracticality of direct democracy described since antiquity, there was a convergence towards representative democracy, for republics as well as monarchies, from the Enlightenment on. In particular, the fear of mob rule concerned many who supported representative democracies. A direct democracy instrument like a referendum is still basically mistrusted in many of the countries that adopted representative democracy. Nonetheless, some republics like Switzerland have a great deal of direct democracy in their state organisation, with usually several issues put before the people by referendum every year.
Marxism inspired state organisations that, at the height of the Cold War, had barely more than a few external appearances in common with Western types of democracies. That is, not withstanding that on an ideological level Marxism and communism sought to empower proletarians. A Communist republic like Fidel Castro's Cuba has many "popular committees" to allow participation from citizens on a very basic level, without much of a far-reaching political power resulting from that. This approach to democracy is sometimes termed Basic democracy, but the term is contentious: the intended result is often something in between direct democracy and grassroots democracy, but connotations may vary.
Some of the hardline totalitarianism lived on in the East, even after the Iron Curtain fell. Sometimes the full name of such republics can be deceptive: having "people's" or "democratic" in the name of a country can, in some cases bear no relation with the concepts of democracy (neither "representative" nor "direct") that grew in the West. In fact, the phrase "People's Democratic Republic" was often synonymous with Marxist dictatorships during the Cold War. It also should be clear that many of these "Eastern" type of republics fall outside a definition of a republic that supposes control over who is in power by the people at large – unless it is accepted that the preference the people displays for their leader is in all cases authentic.
The important politico-philosophical writings of antiquity that survived the Middle Ages rarely had any influence on the emergence or strengthening of republics in the time they were written. When Plato wrote the dialogue that later, in English speaking countries, became known as The Republic (a faulty translation from several points of view), Athenian democracy had already been established, and was not influenced by the treatise (if it had, it would have become less republican in a modern understanding). Plato's own experiments with his political principles in Syracuse were a failure. Cicero's De re publica, far from being able to redirect the Roman state to reinforce its republican form of government, rather reads as a prelude to the Imperial form of government that indeed emerged soon after Cicero's death.
The Enlightenment had brought a new generation of political thinkers, showing that, among other things, political philosophy was in the process of refocusing to political science. This time the influence of the political thinkers, like John Locke, on the emergence of republics in America and France soon thereafter was unmistakable: separation of powers, separation of church and state, etc. were introduced with a certain degree of success in the new republics, along the lines of the major political thinkers of the day.
In fact, the Enlightenment had set the standard for republics, as well as in many cases for monarchies, in the next century. The most important principles established by the close of the Enlightenment were the rule of law, the requirement that governments reflect the self-interest of the people that were subject to that law, that governments act in the national interest, in ways which are understandable to the public at large, and that there be some means of self-determination.
Here again the formation of republics along the line of the new political philosophies followed quickly after the emergence of the philosophies: from the early 20th century on communist type of republics were set up (communist monarchies were at least by name excluded), many of them standing for about a century - but in increasing tension with the states that were more direct heirs of the ideas of the Enlightenment.
Here also the different nature of republics inspired by Marxism becomes apparent: Karl Marx theorised that the government of a state should be based on the proletarians, that is on those whose political opinions never had been asked before, even less had been considered to really matter when designing a state organisation. There was a problem Marxist/Communist types of republics had to solve: most proletarians were lacking interest and/or experience in designing a state organisation, even if acquainted with Das Kapital or Engels' writings. While the practical political involvement of proletarians on the level of an entire country hardly ever materialised, these communist republics were more often than not organised in a very top-down structure.
Republics were originally created by Stalin and continue to be created even today in Russia. Russia itself is not a republic but a federation. It is sometimes argued that the former Soviet Union was also a supra-national republic, based on the claim that the member states were different nations.
States of the United States are required, like the federal government, to be republican in form, with final authority resting with the people. This was required because the states were intended to create and enforce most domestic laws, with the exception of areas delegated to the federal government and prohibited to the states. The founding fathers of the country intended most domestic laws to be handled by the states, although, over time, the federal government has gained more and more influence over domestic law. Requiring the states to be a republic in form was seen as protecting the citizens' rights and preventing a state from becoming a dictatorship or monarchy, and reflected unwillingness on the part of the original 13 states (all independent republics) to unite with other states that were not republics. Additionally, this requirement ensured that only other republics could join the union.
In the example of the United States, the original 13 British colonies became independent states after the American Revolution, each having a republican form of government. These independent states initially formed a loose confederation called the United States and then later formed the current United States by ratifying the current U.S. Constitution, creating a union of sovereign states with the union or federal government also being a republic. Any state joining the union later was also required to be a republic. The United States could be argued to be a supra-national republic on the grounds that the original states were independent countries and was formed of several nations, most notably the original 13 colonies/states, the Republic of Texas, and the Kingdom of Hawaii, all of which would be considered "nations" under a strict definition of the word.
However, the members of the EU are not all republics. It is the most common system but being a republic is not a condition for membership - only that there is a working democracy (hence, Constitutional Monarchies are allowed, but Absolute Monarchies are not). Hence, while the EU operates as a supra-national republic, some of its members operate a hereditary system for its head of state There is a similar situation in regards to religion in the state, a minority of members have an established state church (though there is freedom of religion) but the EU itself has no such institutional element which is biased to a particular faith.
Since the term republic is so vague by itself, many states felt it necessary to add additional qualifiers in order to clarify what kind of republics they claim to be. Here is a list of such qualifiers and variations on the term "republic":
Generally, political scientists try to analyse underlying realities, not the names by which they go: whether a political leader calls himself "king" or "president", and the state he governs a "monarchy" or a "republic" is not the essential characteristic, whether he exercises power as an autocrat is. In this sense political analysts may say that the First World War was, in many respects, the death knell for monarchy, and the establishment of republicanism, whether de facto and/or de jure, as being essential for a modern state. The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the German Empire were both abolished by the terms of the peace treaty after the war, the Russian Empire overthrown by the Russian Revolution of 1917. Even within the victorious states, monarchs were gradually being stripped of their powers and prerogatives, and more and more the government was in the hands of elected bodies whose majority party headed the executive. Nonetheless post-World War I Germany, a de jure republic, would develop into a de facto autocracy by the mid 1930s: the new peace treaty, after the Second World War, took more precaution in making the terms thus that also de facto (the Western part of) Germany would remain a republic.
Per se political theorists, and particularly historians of political thought, tend to use republic as a term-of-art, applying it exclusively to the particular form of government expounded in Machiavelli's discourses. On this account, the essential characteristic of republican governance is the sharing of power between a unitary leader, an aristocratic institution, and a plebeian institution. Machiavelli argues that the counterbalancing of these three interests leads to a sounder and more stable government than monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy alone could. This understanding of the term has seen recent renaissance in the work of theorists such as Philip Pettit and Cass Sunstein.