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A government is a system or collection of individuals who are in charge of administering an organised society, usually referred to as a state.

In accordance with its wide associative meaning, government is often comprised of three branches: the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary. Government is both a method of enforcing organisational policies and a process for deciding policy, as defined by the United Nations. Each country has its own constitution, which serves as a declaration of its governing ideas and philosophical underpinnings.

While governance is present in many kinds of organisations, the word "government" is frequently used more explicitly to refer to the roughly 200 separate national governments and subsidiary organisations that exist throughout the world.

The monarchy, the aristocracy, the timocracy, the oligarchy, democracy, theocracy, and tyranny have all been historically prominent systems of governance. The most important element of any philosophy of governance is the manner in which political power is acquired, with the two most common methods being electoral struggle and hereditary succession.