Republic  

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"Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans" --Marquis de Sade


"Various republics govern, or claim to govern, in the name of the people. Both the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire used the Latin term Senatus Populusque Romanus, (the Senate and People of Rome). This term was fixed to Roman legionary standards, and even after the Roman Emperors achieved a state of total personal autarchy, they continued to wield their power in the name of the Senate and People of Rome. A People's Republic is typically a Marxist or socialist one-party state that claims to govern on behalf of the people. Populism is another umbrella term for various political tendencies that claim to represent the people, usually with an implication that they serve the common people instead of the elite."--Sholem Stein

The anti-royalist cartoon Les Poires by Daumier after Philipon.
This page Republic is part of the politics series.Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix. The painting is considered to be a republican and anti-monarchist symbol.
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This page Republic is part of the politics series.
Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix. The painting is considered to be a republican and anti-monarchist symbol.

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A republic (res publica, meaning "public affair") is a form of government in which political power is in the hands of the people and their representatives. In republics, the country is considered a "public matter", not the private concern or property of the rulers. The primary positions of power within a republic are attained through democracy or a mix of democracy with oligarchy or autocracy rather than being unalterably occupied by any given family lineage or group. With modern republicanism, it has become the opposing form of government to a monarchy and therefore a modern republic has no monarch as head of state.

As of 2017, 159 of the world's 206 sovereign states use the word "republic" as part of their official names – not all of these are republics in the sense of having elected governments, nor is the word "republic" used in the names of all states with elected governments.

The word republic comes from the Latin term res publica, which literally means "public thing", "public matter", or "public affair" and was used to refer to the state as a whole. The term developed its modern meaning in reference to the constitution of the ancient Roman Republic, lasting from the overthrow of the kings in 509 BC to the establishment of the Empire in 27 BC. This constitution was characterized by a Senate composed of wealthy aristocrats wielding significant influence; several popular assemblies of all free citizens, possessing the power to elect magistrates and pass laws; and a series of magistracies with varying types of civil and political authority.

Most often a republic is a single sovereign state, but there are also sub-sovereign state entities that are referred to as republics, or that have governments that are described as republican in nature. For instance, Article IV of the United States Constitution "guarantee[s] to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government". Another example is the Soviet Union which described itself as being a federation of "Soviet Socialist Republics", in reference to the 15 individually federal, multinational, top-level subdivisions or republics. The Russian Federation is a state that is composed partly of several republics.

Etymology

The term originates from the Latin translation of Greek word politeia. Cicero, among other Latin writers, translated politeia as res publica and it was in turn translated by Renaissance scholars as "republic" (or similar terms in various western European languages).

The term politeia can be translated as form of government, polity, or regime and is therefore not always a word for a specific type of regime as the modern word republic is. One of Plato's major works on political science was titled Politeia and in English it is thus known as The Republic. However, apart from the title, in modern translations of The Republic, alternative translations of politeia are also used.

However, in Book III of his Politics, Aristotle was apparently the first classical writer to state that the term politeia can be used to refer more specifically to one type of politeia: "When the citizens at large govern for the public good, it is called by the name common to all governments (to koinon onoma pasōn tōn politeiōn), government (politeia)". Also amongst classical Latin, the term "republic" can be used in a general way to refer to any regime, or in a specific way to refer to governments which work for the public good.

In medieval Northern Italy, a number of city states had commune or signoria based governments. In the late Middle Ages, writers such as Giovanni Villani began writing about the nature of these states and the differences from other types of regime. They used terms such as libertas populi, a free people, to describe the states. The terminology changed in the 15th century as the renewed interest in the writings of Ancient Rome caused writers to prefer using classical terminology. To describe non-monarchical states writers, most importantly Leonardo Bruni, adopted the Latin phrase res publica.

While Bruni and Machiavelli used the term to describe the states of Northern Italy, which were not monarchies, the term res publica has a set of interrelated meanings in the original Latin. The term can quite literally be translated as "public matter".

In subsequent centuries, the English word "commonwealth" came to be used as a translation of res publica, and its use in English was comparable to how the Romans used the term res publica. Notably, during The Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell the word commonwealth was the most common term to call the new monarchless state, but the word republic was also in common use. Likewise, in Polish the term was translated as rzeczpospolita, although the translation is now only used with respect to Poland.

Presently, the term "republic" commonly means a system of government which derives its power from the people rather than from another basis, such as heredity or divine right.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Republic" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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