These two concepts tell us about different levels of power in modern countries.
In order that the different people that are part of the same group can organize their activity, the human being has created and elaborated various mechanisms and organizations that allow a correct management of the behavior and activity of its components. These mechanisms act to direct and establish the limits of conduct and try to guarantee that the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of each member of society are fulfilled.
The figure of the State is formed, which will be directed by the Government. Both concepts have become confused on many occasions, so in this article we are going to try to establish the main differences between the State and the government.
Defining state and government
When we speak of the State, we are using a concept of a political and legal nature that refers to the set of elements that are part of a society. The State includes both the set of individuals that make it up and the way it is organized, as well as, to a lesser extent, the territory they occupy and its borders. The State is sovereign and the different powers (legislative, executive and judicial) emanate from it, and allows limits, norms, responsibilities, rights and freedoms to be established so that coexistence can be regulated.
But to get the state to function properly it needs to be managed in some way. The government takes care of it. It is understood as such the set of individuals and institutions that administer the State, exercising the different functions of the executive power. The government assumes the leadership of the society and the authority to ensure that the different laws are followed and implemented, being an important part of the State although not the only one.
In this way we can perceive that the government is a part of the State, both concepts not being synonymous nor referring to the same thing.
Main differences between government and state
Next we are going to observe some of the main differences between both concepts: State and Government.
1. Level of inclusion between concepts
One of the main differences between the State and the government is that one is only a part of the other. The State includes the government, which holds political power (specifically, it takes over the executive power), as part of it.
But the State is much more, since this concept refers to the set of components of the same society, its territory and its way of organizing.
2. Level of abstraction
Another aspect in which they differ is found in the level of abstraction that both concepts entail. The government as an institution is perceptible and it is possible to recognize those who are part of it, being able to identify the natural persons that comprise it.
However, the term State is rather an abstract concept in which citizenship, territory and its organization are integrated, not being something clearly perceptible.
3. Duration and stability
State and government are also different in another respect: their duration. While the State remains unchanged over time unless the unity between its components is dissolved or it is integrated into a new State that includes it, the Government has a determined duration, whether it is agreed in advance (as in our country , in which we have elections every four years) or before the deposition with even the death of their rulers (as in dictatorships, or in countries with forms of government such as the absolute monarchy).
The level of power that the government and the State possess is also different, although there are clear differences depending on the type of government that a region has.
As a general rule in democratic countries, the role of the government is to exercise executive power or the application of laws, the laws themselves being drawn up and approved by other structures (in countries with absolute monarchy it would also be in charge of the rest of the powers as well as also in dictatorships the dictator tries to exercise the legislative and judicial power) and having limited powers.
The State, however, is the source of all power (both the executive and the legislative and judicial), being sovereign and the one that decides to whom the power to govern and organize it is transferred.
- Rodríguez Suárez, M .; García Domínguez, C. and Justafré García, Y. (2012). The technical-legal difference between state and government. Contributions to the Social Sciences. Malaga University.