So in a wartime scenario where a nation's government is undergoing upheaval from various factions gaining and losing power, is there a proper word/phrase to describe "the current group in charge" in a way that encompasses all types of governmental bodies?

E.g. The Rebels coup and install some sort of Oligarchy, but 2 years later they are overthrown by a Nationalist faction who turns it into a Dictatorship - how would you describe the Rebels and Nationalists when they are in charge at their respective periods of time?

"Leading faction", "Ruling party", "Ruling power", "Sovereign" seem close but not quite it.

By the way, 'oligarchy' can be a legitimate form of government. In ancient Greece, where it originated most city states were oligarchies. They replaced 'aristocratic' rule, where those in power were so by birth, and 'oligarchy' was rule by the citizens with more than a certain minimum property, and officials were elected from them and they could all vote on laws. In that sense Britain was an oligarchy till 1917 - and women did not have it till 1928!


3 Answers 3


There is a simple word for such a group: it would be a junta So, for example, the military dictatorship in Greece between 1967 and 1974 came to power by means of a military coup. Most such regimes are of limited duration. Some, like the Soviet Union' Communist Government, lasted longer and was however grudgingly referred to as the government. Even that was often referred to as a régime. This word implies that though it is established in power, it lacks proper legitimacy. How we should refer to modern China is one of the great puzzles of our time.


Another possibility would be hegemony:

from Webster's Encylopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, p. 887.

  1. Leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation over others, as in a confederation.
  2. Leadership; predominance.
  3. Aggression or expansionism by large nations in an effort to achieve world domination.

Orson Scott Card makes substantial use of this terminology in his Ender series.


Martial Law might be described as the power the government declares in unstable times or in emergencies.

  • Martial law would only apply if the government used their military to maintain civil order. Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 7:50
  • Well, I feel silly now. That makes much more sense. Good Job. It's so obvious when someone points it out.
    – Donace00
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 21:09

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