Variance in Government by Country

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The Country Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar countries are to each other relative to other countries. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. 20% of the index is based on politics. 20% of a country’s politics score (4% of the overall Country Similarity Index score) is allocated for the management of a country’s government. This includes the typical three main branches of government: Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch. It also includes the head of state, which for some countries is different from the executive. Furthermore, it also looks at the government’s stated relationship to religion. The following is an explanation on how they were calculated:

Basic Government

There are three basic types of governments: Democracies, Anocracies and Autocracies. Democracies are governments where the citizens have the ability to choose their leaders. Autocracies are governments where the citizens do not have the ability to choose their leaders, which are seen in absolute monarchies and single-party states. Anocracies are seen in many unstable governments, which have elements of both democracy and autocracy.

The Center for Systematic Peace was the source of the data:
http://www.systemicpeace.org/inscrdata.html

The governments were categorized into the following four categories:
Democracy, Democratic Anocracy, Autocratic Anocracy, Autocracy

State Religion

In the constitutions of some governments, it specifies that there is a state religion. Some Muslim countries go even further and specify that religion governs public life, as well as private life. Some countries identify their government as secular, but privilege certain religions over non-belief. Furthermore, some countries ruled by the Communist Party have a policy of state atheism.  

The World Policy Center was the source of the information:
https://www.worldpolicycenter.org/policies/what-is-the-constitutional-relationship-between-religion-and-state/what-is-the-constitutional-role-of-religion-in-countries-where-the-state-is-affiliated-to-or-under-the-jurisdictional-control-of-a-specific-religion

The governments were categorized into the following categories:
Atheist, Secular, Religious, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish

Who is the Head of Government?

The executive is the person or entity in charge of leading the executive branch in a government. This varies from country to country. In presidential systems, the president is the head.  In semi-presidential systems, the president appoints a head of government. In parliamentary republics, the prime minister is in charge of the executive branch. In absolute monarchies, the monarch is the head of the government. In one-party states, the general secretary or party leader is in charge. Uniquely, in Switzerland, there is a federal council of 7 members that each equally lead the executive branch. 

The CIA Factbook was the source of the information: 
https://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/fields/executive-branch

The heads of government were categorized into the following categories:
President, Head of Government, Party Leader, Monarch, Prime Minister, Federal Council

How did the Head of Government come to power?

Not all executives come to power in the same way. In democracies, the executive can be elected in many different ways. In practice, the prime minister is chosen by gaining the support of a majority of the legislature. In absolute monarchies and in certain one-party states, power is inherited by a family member. In other one-party states, the executive is chosen by elite party members. Most presidents are elected by popular vote. In semi-presidential systems, the executive is appointed by the president. In some anocracies, the executive is only in power due to rigging the election or through a military coup. Many countries are blends of these different aspects.

The CIA Factbook was the source of the information: 
https://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/fields/executive-branch

The heads of government were categorized into the following categories:
Elected by Popular Vote, Elected by Legislature, Inherited, Elected by Rigging, Installed by the Military, Elected by Party Members

Who is the Head of State?

In many countries, the head of government is not the head of state. The head of state is usually responsible for diplomacy but also is the commander and chief of the military. In constitutional monarchies and absolute monarchies, the monarch is the head of state. Uniquely, in Iran, the head of state is the supreme leader, a religious cleric that is appointed by the guardian council. In presidential and semi-presidential systems, the president is the leader. In parliamentary systems that do not have a monarch, the head of state is separate from the prime minister. In Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croats, Bosniaks, and Serbs each have their own separate heads of state.

The CIA Factbook was the source of the information: 
https://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/fields/executive-branch

The heads of state were categorized into the following categories:
President, Head of State, Party Leader, Monarch, Supreme Leader, Collective Group

How did the Head of State come to power?

In democracies, the head of state is determined many different ways. Monarchies are generally through inheritance, although there are some elected monarchies, such as in Cambodia, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates. Most presidents are elected by popular vote. In many parliamentary systems, the head of state is chosen by the parliament or state governments. In Iran, the Supreme Leader is elected by the Assembly of Experts, who are appointed by the Guardian Council. In single-party states, the head of state is chosen by party leaders. In some anocracies, the head of state is only in power due to rigging the election or through a military coup. Many countries are blends of these different aspects.

The CIA Factbook was the source of the information: 
https://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/fields/executive-branch

The heads of state were categorized into the following categories:
Elected by Popular Vote, Elected by Legislature, Elected by State Governments, Inherited, Elected by Monarchy, Elected by Rigging, Installed by the Military, Elected by Party Members, Elected by Religious Clerics

 

Legislative Branch

The structure of legislative branches has two main forms: unicameral and bicameral. Saudi Arabia is unique in that it does not have a legislative branch. There is often a typical amount of important political parties that make up a country’s legislative branch. Some have a vast majority of their officials part of one party, like in China, Singapore, and Rwanda. In others, there are two major parties that vie for power in the legislature, like in the United States, Nigeria, and Argentina. Furthermore, countries like Germany, South Africa, and Ecuador have more political parties. In these cases, even the two largest parties do not make up more than 2/3 of the congress. Furthermore, in some congresses, having no party affiliation is dominant. This is mostly in countries where having a political party affiliation is illegal, however there are a few countries with many independent legislators. 

The CIA Factbook was the source of the information: 
https://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/fields/legislative-branch

The legislatures were categorized by the following two aspects:
1) unicameral, bicameral, no congress
2) multi-party, two-party, one-party, no-party

How did the legislators come to power?

There is a huge amount of variation from country to country on how their legislators come to power. In democracies there are many different methods of election. These include congresses elected by proportion, by single-member districts, by multi-member districts, and by district governments. Some legislators may also be appointed by the government’s executive, like in Canada. In single-party states, legislators are often chosen by party leaders. In Thailand, many legislators are appointed by the military leaders. Monarchies that have congresses often have legislators appointed by the monarch. In some specific cases, being a legislator can be inherited. In anocracies, the election of legislators is often rigged. Many countries are blends of these different aspects. 

The CIA Factbook was the source of the information: 
https://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/fields/legislative-branch

The legislatures were categorized by the following two aspects:
Elected by proportion, Elected by single-member districts, Elected by multi-member districts, Elected by district governments, Appointed by the Military, Elected by Party Leaders, Elected by rigging, Appointed by Government Executive, Appointed by Monarch, Inherited

 

Judicial Branch

There are three basic types of judicial branches. Most high courts review whether their laws violate their constitution or not. However, some high courts do not have judicial review. In other cases, there are separate courts, one supreme court and one constitutional court. Another fundamental aspect of judicial branches is whether the judges are term limited or appointed for life. Some countries also have a mixture of term limited judges and judges appointed for life.

The CIA Factbook was the source of the information: 
https://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/fields/judicial-branch

The judiciaries were categorized by the following two aspects:
1) Courts with Judicial Review, Courts without Judicial Review, Separate Courts 
2) for life, term limited

How did the judges come to power?

There is a lot of variation from country to country on how judges are chosen. Most commonly they are appointed by the government executive and approved by the legislature. Sometimes they are elected by legislatures and approved by the government executive. In other countries, they are appointed by the legislative leader or chief justice. There are also many countries where the judges themselves decide which judges should be promoted to their highest court. Bolivia is unique in that it is the only country in the world where the judges on the supreme court are elected by popular vote. In some monarchies, the judges are appointed by the monarch. Many countries are blends of these different aspects. A good example are countries with judicial councils, where various leaders across government have a vote on which judge to nominate.

The CIA Factbook was the source of the information: 
https://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/fields/judicial-branch

The judiciaries were categorized by the following categories:
Appointed by Government Executive, Appointed by Monarch, Appointed by Chief Justice, Appointed by Legislative Leader, Elected by Legislature, Elected by Judges, Elected by Popular Vote 

Obviously there is no one clear way to determine how similar one country is to another. How would you quantify how similar one country is to another?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

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