Is the US the oldest running government?

I hope this question doesn’t sound too dumb, but someone brought it up in a chatroom and had a cite…

They (the person in the chatroom) stated the following:
“did you know the US has the longest-standing government in the world?”
and cited this page:

So, really, am I supposed to believe that the other currently ruling governments in this world are not older than that of the US?

There are many govt’s older than ours. To name a few… All you need is a country that’s older than ours.

Portugal…just about all of Europe.

Many more I’m sure.

Your link doesn’t say ours is the oldest govt…It says ours is the oldest federal constitution.

Tough question. Most of the governments in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australia were created in the twentieth century after colonial control ended. Most countries in Europe have been conquered at some point during the last two-hundred years, so they haven’t had one government continuously.

But I think there is an exception: Sweden. They’ve lived under a constitutional monarchy/parliment system since 1772. It has been radically restructured to give more power to the parliment, and to introduce new bodies in the parliment, several times since then. So I guess whether Sweden has lived continuously under one government since 1772 depends on how you want to define it.

Well, here’s this link from the CIA factbook:

According to this page ours is the longest standing constitution.

Their governments have changed into different forms of government. He’s trying to say we currently have the longest standing goverment. In regards to our constitution. Britains ruling government, for example, has changed shape and constitutions drastically throughout the years.

No – the question implies a government running in the same form, albeit with progressive modifications assumed (or ours would only date to 1992 or thereabouts, when we last amended the Constitution).

Britain has been under the same government since 1689 for absolute certain, and cases could be made for 1660 and 1066. Greece changed to a republic in 1967. Italy became a republic in 1946. France radically restructured its government in 1958. Spain resumed the monarchy in 1975. Portugal has changed its form of government numerous times since 1910. Much of the rest of Europe dates no earlier than 1815, after the post-Napoleonic settlement, some being 1989-91 (after the fall of Communism) and others circa 1871. Germany can reasonably be dated to 1949, when the Federal Republic (AKA West Germany 1949-199x) into which East Germany was consolidated was formed. The Danish monarchy has been approximately the same since well before 1776, although I have no idea when a constitution was promulgated and in any case the Nazi occupation might be counted as a break (though they did keep the form of the Danish state, complete with king, in place). Arnold would be able to specify the Swiss date, but I believe 1848 is accurate. But of course you do have San Marino, with a classic oligarchic republican form dating from the 300s AD.

From that link:

“The Constitution of the United States is the oldest Federal constitution in existence and was framed by a convention of delegates from twelve of the thirteen original states in Philadelphia in May 1787.”

It depends on how you define a “Federal constitution”.

One could argue that the government of the U.K. has been essentially the same one since at least 1689, with the accession of William and Mary, and perhaps from the Stuart Restoration in 1660. Of course, the power of Parliament has increased at the expense of the monarchy, but the form of government has essentially been the same. The difference is, the government is not based on a single Consititution, but a variety of documents.

::: gives Colibri a high five on picking the same dates for the U.K. :::

But a “Constitution” – or so I was taught in comparative government – need not be a specific document named “This is our country’s constitution” – but rather a set of ground laws defining how a country will run itself, and what rights it will refrain from trampling on. Sweden, for example, has no single constitution document, but rather an Instrument of Government and four other grundlagen that stand above the statutes as definitions of how the country shall be run. Britain’s bizarre-to-us system of enacting statutes in Parliament that may be public law, private law, or constitution-level process fits into this framework at one extreme.

You will note in that list that Britain doesn’t HAVE a written constitution, and many governments adopted one fairly recently without significantly modifying their mechanism of government. Constitution != government.

I would suggest that the UK can possibly claim to have had a continous government from 1066, if you’re prepared to ignore Cromwell by treating the “Commonwealth” as the “Interregnum”. If you want to get sticky about it fairly closely matching the current form, certainly from the “Glorious Revolution” onwards (1688).

Wouldn’t the Vatican figure in this list somewhere?

They have a continuing series of rulers dating back to about 33 A.D. (A few competing anti-popes at various times, but generally pretty minor.)

No significant change in the governmental structure or the method of choosing their rulers in all that time.

The have controlled the physical territory of Vatican City since the 300’s A.D. (And quite a bit more at times, including Papal States that took up much of modern Italy. Captured and imprisoned in France for a few years, but again a minor blip in their history.)

This seems to fit the requirements of the OP, and is about 10 times older than the US Government.

Jeesh! While I was busy looking up the date of the Glorious Revolution, not one, but TWO heavyweights had to get their licks in!

So then, what exactly is that page and the CIA’s factbook trying to assert? In regards to our government we’re the oldest… what? The lines seemed so blurred.

The link referred to continuous effect of a written national constitution, in which case, yes, the USA is the oldest single continuously-running one. As mentioned before, the British Parliamentary Monarchy “as we know it” can be dated to 1689.

However the statement quoted in the OP s misleading – constitution does not equal government, and for good measure neither does government equal sovereignty or national identity. And you can have a government that changes radically its ideological bases and its operational structure, but that when it gets to the level of serving (or screwing) the average Joe/Juan/Jacques/Ivan/Abdul/Ichiro has just about the same impact as the old system.

I’ve always heard it said that the United States has the second oldest unchanged government in the world. England has the oldest.

Since the OP specifically asks about gubmint rather than constitutions, I suggest that the most reasonable standard for a “continuing running government” is one that not changed through revolution or external takeover. Whatever changes take place, take place under the direction of the government.

The WWII era really did a number on a lot of that might otherwise be candidates. I don’t think there’s a single African or South American country old enough, and the commies have fairly thoroughly trashed Asia.

I believe England definitely qualifies. The Vatican, maybe. Certainly by calendar years, but I don’t know how long other countries have accorded it privileges as a nation-state rather than, er, well… something else.

I can think of a couple other candidates that might qualify. Switzerland. Sweden.

If you go with that definition, China would have them beat, but it’s a country whose government is only 55 years old.

And, looking at your list, neither Greece or Italy were countries until the 19th century.

Switzerland was the first in my mind; they became an independent nation of confederated cantons in 1648. There was, however, a period of French rule from 1789 to 1815, and their first US-style constitution was adopted in 1848 (and has been substantially revised since then).