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Introduction

Politics (from Greek: πολιτικά, translit. Politiká, meaning "affairs of the cities") is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group.

It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state.

In modern nation-states, people have formed political parties to represent their ideas. They agree to take the same position on many issues and agree to support the same changes to law and the same leaders.

An election is usually a competition between different parties. Some examples of political parties are the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, the Tories in Great Britain and the Indian National Congress.

Politics is a multifaceted word. It has a set of fairly specific meanings that are descriptive and nonjudgmental (such as "the art or science of government" and "political principles"), but often does carry a connotation of dishonest malpractice. The word has been used negatively for many years: the British national anthem as published in 1745 calls on God to "Confound their politics", and the phrase "play politics", for example, has been in use since at least 1853, when abolitionist Wendell Phillips declared: "We do not play politics; anti-slavery is no half-jest with us."

A variety of methods are deployed in politics, which include promoting one's own political views among people, negotiation with other political subjects, making laws, and exercising force, including warfare against adversaries. Politics is exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of traditional societies, through modern local governments, companies and institutions up to sovereign states, to the international level.

It is very often said that politics is about power. A political system is a framework which defines acceptable political methods within a given society. The history of political thought can be traced back to early antiquity, with seminal works such as Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics and the works of Confucius.

Selected article

Flag of the Central African Republic

The Saint-Sylvestre coup d'état was a coup d'état staged by Jean-Bédel Bokassa, leader of the Central African Republic army, and his military officers against the government of President David Dacko on 31 December 1965 and 1 January 1966. Dacko was aware that Bokassa had made plans to take over his government, and countered by forming the gendarmerie headed by Jean Izamo. Bokassa and his men started the coup on New Year's Eve in 1965 by first capturing Izamo and locking him in a cellar at Camp de Roux. They then occupied the capital, Bangui, and overpowered the gendarmerie and other resistance. After midnight, Dacko was arrested and forced to resign from office and then imprisoned at Camp Kassaï. According to official reports, eight people died while resisting the coup. Izamo was tortured to death within a month, but Dacko's life was spared due to foreign intervention. Soon after the coup, Bokassa dissolved the National Assembly, abolished the Constitution and issued a number of decrees, banning begging, female circumcision, and polygamy, among other things. Bokassa initially struggled to obtain international recognition for his regime, but the new government eventually obtained recognition from other African nations.

Featured picture

Javier Solana (2007).jpg
Credit: א

Dr. Javier Solana was the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Secretary-General of both the Council of the European Union (EU) and the Western European Union (WEU). This photograph shows him discussing with students of RWTH Aachen University, one day before receiving the International Charlemagne Prize of the city of Aachen.

Selected quote

Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship... the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
Hermann Göring, Nazi founder of the Gestapo, Head of the Luftwaffe

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Selected biography

José Maria da Silva Paranhos in 1879

José Paranhos, Viscount of Rio Branco (1819–1880) was a politician, monarchist, diplomat, teacher and journalist of the Empire of Brazil. In 1871, Rio Branco became the President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) for the first time. He would become the Council's longest-serving president, and his cabinet the second longest, in Brazilian history. His government was marked by a time of economic prosperity and the enactment of several necessary reforms—though they proved to be seriously flawed. The most important of these initiatives was the Law of Free Birth, which granted freeborn status to children born to slave women. Rio Branco led the government that enacted this law, and its passage increased his popularity. However, his government was plagued by a long crisis with the Catholic Church that had resulted from the expulsion of Freemasons from its lay brotherhoods. After more than four years heading the Cabinet, Rio Branco resigned in 1875. Following a long vacation in Europe, his health swiftly declined and he was diagnosed with oral cancer. Rio Branco died in 1880 and was widely mourned throughout the country. He is regarded by most historians as one of Brazil's greatest statesmen.

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