Have you given any thought to the kind of government that your fictional society will have? Without a stable government that can enforce laws and defend against internal and external threats that may cause the state to disintegrate, your society will inevitably descend into anarchy – a chaotic, lawless state typically referred to as a “failed state” in the real world.

A Decent Explanation of Forms Of Government

The narrator talks about each form in terms of how much power it holds.

A Few More Types of Government

With a little imagination, you could probably get more descriptive about the exact form of government your alien society has than the above video. I've expanded this to include a few more types.

  • Democracy: Literally, this means “rule by the people.” Each citizen (or at least, each citizen who is a legal adult) receives one direct vote on any issue. This should not be confused with each citizen having the right to vote for representatives that they send to a capital city. If an issue needs to be voted on, it goes before the general population. If you can imagine going to the polls every week to vote on a small booklet of referendums, that is what a democracy would be like. It has also been called “consensus” on the theory that the population will have already discussed the issues that are up for a vote. Naturally, this type of government works best for nations with small populations and has been proposed as a form of decision-making for the lucky ones who will go to Mars as part of the Mars One Colony, which will be settled by up to 40 people.

  • Republic: This is a representative government, in which people are elected from among the general population to represent their constituencies on any issue. This form of government is modeled by the legislative and executive branches of the United States of America, in which the President and members of Congress are elected. This is more suitable for large populations for whom it might be unreasonable to ask them to frequently cast a direct vote on issues.

  • Monarchy: Monarchies are nations in which a king, queen or emperor holds the political power. An example might be feudal Japan or China before 1911.

  • Aristocracy/Oligarchy: A few wealthy and educated people hold the power. This is similar to monarchies in many ways. In some cases, less wealthy and influential families were answerable to the monarch or more powerful families but were granted lands and power in exchange for services. In others, the oligarchy may be a variation of the republic in which only a few wealthy and influential people are allowed to vote.

  • Dictatorship: This is very similar to a monarchy, in which a person or group of people holds all of the political power. Modern dictatorships may call themselves “Democratic Republics” or a variation, but there is usually only one political party or one person in power. More extreme forms of dictatorships include totalitarianism and fascism, in which the government exerts complete control over all aspects of society. Communism is considered a form of totalitarianism in which all economic activity is controlled by the government.

  • Theocracy: A government based on some form of religion. This type of government may take the form of rule by the priesthood, or a member of the ruling class is regarded as a god or demigod.

  • Meritocracy: A rarely used form of government in which leaders are chosen according to proven skill or achievement. In Mercedes Lackey's novels of Valdemar, the mysterious nation of Iftel has shades of meritocracy, in which representatives of each district compete in highly dangerous contests that require feats of logic and strength for a greater share of resources and for chances to hold positions of responsibility.

How Do You Choose For Your Alien Society?

There's no real hard-and-fast rules here, but you might make some guesses based on what kind of society you've already established for your alien race. If your race favors each individual's prowess as a warrior, the leaders may be made up of a variation of the oligarchy in which the strongest warriors are the leaders. Of course, this form of oligarchy may be overthrown by a mob of weaker but infuriated warriors – seriously, there's only so much a single chancellor with a bat'telh can do against an angry mob if he gets caught while hunting for targ. That might clear a path to a republic.

That doesn't mean you should choose at random, of course. A theocracy wouldn't make much sense if a typical member of your alien race wouldn't care much about religion. Your government should make sense in the context of your alien society.