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Constitutional republic facts for kids

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A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people. They must govern within an existing constitution.

In a constitutional republic, executive, legislative, and judicial powers may be separated into distinct branches. The separation of powers means that no single officeholder gets unlimited power. John Adams said that a constitutional republic was "a government of laws, and not of men".

Supporters of such a republic argue that it is meant to be a safeguard against tyranny. No office holder can get to a position of absolute power. However, some have argued that a constitution can be written in such a way that it lets tyranny arise, and that a constitution is therefore not a fail proof safeguard against tyranny.

A state is constitutional if a constitution limits the government's power. If the people choose by election the head(s) of state and other officials, then the state is a republic. The United States of America and Republic of Iceland are examples of constitutional republics.

In practice, the term is not so clear. There are republics with constitutions which the head of state can ignore. There are democratic monarchies which have unwritten constitutions, and where the monarch is not the head of government. One element which varies greatly is the nature of the election system.

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