Government of the Middle East

SS7CG4The student will compare and contrast various forms of government. 
a. Describe the ways government systems distribute power: unitary, confederation, and federal. 
b. Explain how governments determine citizen participation: autocratic, oligarchic, and democratic.
c. Describe the two predominant forms of democratic governments: parliamentary and 

Three Ways Government Systems Distribute Power

Unitary - a form of government in which power is held by one central authority (government: communism, monarchy…)

Confederation - voluntary associations of independent states that, to secure some common purpose, agree to certain limitations on their power (organizations: OPEC, UN, EU)

Federal - a form of government in which power is divided between one central and several regional authorities (government: republic, democracy)

Citizen Participation

Autocratic - government in which one person possesses unlimited power and the citizen has little if any role in the government.

Oligarchic - government by the few, sometimes a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes, the citizen has a very limited role.

Democratic - a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.      

How Governments Determine Citizen Participation -Democratic Governments

Parliamentary - a system of government having the real executive power vested in a cabinet composed of members of the legislature who are individually and collectively responsible to the legislature. May have a Prime Minister elected by the legislature.   (2 Branches: Legislative and Executive)

Presidential - a system of government in which the president is constitutionally independent of the legislature (3 Branches: Legislative, Judicial, Executive)

 SS7CG5 The student will explain the structures of the national governments of Southwest Asia 

(Middle East). 
a. Compare the parliamentary democracy ofthe State of Israel, the monarchy of the Kingdom of 
Saudi Arabia, and the theocracy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, distinguishing the form of 
leadership and the role of the citizen in terms of voting rights and personal freedoms.

Middle East Governments

Saudi Arabia - an absolute monarchy with the king (currently King Abdullah) as the leader of the nation. Has announced that some limited elections for the legislature will be held some time in the future. Role of citizen is to obey the king.
Iran - an Islamic theocratic republic where the citizens’ role is to vote for the President and the parliament, and on the face of things, the President is the leader of the nation. But the reality is that the Ayatollah and the religious leaders in the Guardian Council choose who gets to run in the elections, meaning that the candidates are all chosen by the religious leaders.
Israel - a representative democracy, specifically a parliamentary democracy, but one where the citizens vote for both the parliament, called the Knesset, and the Prime Minister. There is also a ceremonial President who is elected by the Knesset, but the real work of leading is done by the Prime Minister. Role of citizen is voting. Israel is a true republic.

Government Definitions

Chief of state includes the name and title of the leader of the country who represents the state at official and ceremonial functions, but who may not be involved with the day-to-day activities of the government.            

Head of government includes the name and title of the top administrative leader who is designated to manage the day-to-day activities of the government.     

Federal Republic – A division of powers between the national "federal" government, and the government of the individual subdivisions. National security and defense, monetary policy, and other issues of a "national" scope are handled at the "federal" level while more local issues such as road and infrastructure maintenance and education policy are handled at the local level.

Constitutional Monarchy - a political system in which the head of state is a king or queen ruling to the extent allowed by a constitution

Communist State – any system of government in which a single, usually totalitarian, party holds power and the state controls the economy



Type of Government


Type of Leadership

Who has actual executive power?

How actual Leader got position

Role of Citizen in Gov’t



Theocratic Republic

Ayatollah (Supreme Leader) and President

Ayatollah (a religious leader)

Ayatollah is chosen by important religious leaders and previous “supreme leader”.

To vote for President (even though elections are neither free nor fair)

To obey supreme leader (Ayatollah)

Not Free

Saudi Arabia

Absolute Monarchy



Inherited it

To obey

Not Free


Parliamentary Democracy

President and Prime Minister

Prime Minister

Elected by parliament (Knesset)

To vote for the parliament (Knesset)



Republic (fake)




Military coup – rigged elections


Not Free


Presidential Democracy



Elected by Popular Vote

Elect President

Partly Free

South Africa

Parliamentary Democracy

Prime Minister whose title is President


Elected by National Assembly

(majority party)

Elect members of National Assembly



Federal Parliamentary


President – head of state

Prime Minister – head of gov’t

Prime Minister

President Electoral College

Prime Minister – head of majority legislative branch

Vote for Legislature



Republic (fake)

Lead by Communist Party (CCP)

President (dictator) – chosen by National People’s Congress

Premier (Prime Minister) – Head of the Ruling Party (Communist Party)


National People’s Congress

Elect National People’s Congress

Not Free


Constitutional Monarchy

Parliamentary System

Emperor – head of state

Prime Minister – head of government

Prime Minister

Emperor – inherited

Prime Minister – chosen by the Diet & emperor gives blessing

Vote for members of the Diet


Unitary Government

Autocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy

Presidential vs. Parliamentary

Distribution of Power: Unitary, Confederation, and Federal
Citizen Participation: Autocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy

Types of Democracies: Parliamentary and Presidential