A republic is a form of government in which the country is considered a "public matter" (Latin: res publica), not the private concern or property of the rulers, and where offices of states are subsequently directly or indirectly elected or appointed rather than inherited. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of state is not a monarch.
Both modern and ancient republics vary widely in their ideology and composition. In classical and medieval times the archetype of all republics was the Roman Republic, which referred to Rome in between the period when it had kings, and the periods when it had emperors. The Italian medieval and Renaissance political tradition today referred to as "civic humanism" is sometimes considered to derive directly from Roman republicans such as Sallust and Tacitus. However, Greek-influenced Roman authors, such as Polybius and Cicero, sometimes also used the term as a translation for the Greek politeia which could mean regime generally, but could also be applied to certain specific types of regime which did not exactly correspond to that of the Roman Republic. An example of this is Sparta, which had two kings but was not considered a normal monarchy as it also had ephors representing the common people. Republics were not equated with classical democracies such as Athens, but had a democratic aspect.
In modern republics such as the United States, Russia, and India, the executive is legitimized both by a constitution and by popular suffrage. Montesquieu included both democracies, where all the people have a share in rule, and aristocracies or oligarchies, where only some of the people rule, as republican forms of government.
Most often a republic is a sovereign state, but there are also subnational entities that are referred to as republics, or which have governments that are described as "republican" in nature. For instance, Article IV of the Constitution of the United States "guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government". The subdivisions of the Soviet Union were described as republics and two of them – Ukrainian SSR and Byelorussian SSR – had their own seats at the United Nations. While the Constitution of the Soviet Union described that union as a "unitary, federal and multinational state", it was in reality a unitary state as each Soviet Socialist Republic was dominated by the Communist Party.
Famous quotes containing the word republic:
“The United States is a republic, and a republic is a state in which the people are the boss. That means us. And if the big shots in Washington dont do like we vote, we dont vote for them, by golly, no more.”
—Willis Goldbeck (19001979)
“People think they have taken quite an extraordinarily bold step forward when they have rid themselves of belief in hereditary monarchy and swear by the democratic republic. In reality, however, the state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic republic no less than in the monarchy.”
—Friedrich Engels (18201895)
“Royalty is a government in which the attention of the nation is concentrated on one person doing interesting actions. A Republic is a government in which that attention is divided between many, who are all doing uninteresting actions. Accordingly, so long as the human heart is strong and the human reason weak, Royalty will be strong because it appeals to diffused feeling, and Republics weak because they appeal to the understanding.”
—Walter Bagehot (18261877)