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Diarchy (or dyarchy; from the Greek δι- / δύο meaning "two" and ἄρχω meaning "to rule") is a form of government in which two individuals ("diarchs") are joint heads of state. Most diarchs hold their position for life, passing the position to their children or other family members.

Diarchy is one of the oldest forms of government: examples include ancient Sparta, Rome, Carthage as well Germanic and Dacian tribes. Several ancient Polynesian societies also exhibited a diarchic political structure. Ranks in the Inca Empire were structured in moieties, with two occupants of each rank, but with different prestige, one hanan (upper) and one hurin (lower). In modern usage, diarchy means a system of dual rule, whether this be of a government or of an organization. Such 'diarchies' are not hereditary.

Modern examples of diarchies are the Principality of Andorra, whose heads of state are the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell; the Republic of San Marino, led by two collegial Captains Regent; and the Kingdom of Swaziland, where the joint heads of state are the king and his mother.

Current diarchies[edit]


Andorra is a parliamentary co-principality with the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell (Catalonia, Spain), as co-princes. This peculiarity makes the President of France, in his capacity as Prince of Andorra, an elected reigning monarch, even though he is not elected by a popular vote of the Andorran people.

San Marino[edit]

See Captain Regent


The Kingdom of Swaziland is a diarchy in which the king (Ngwenyama) rules in conjunction with his mother, the queen mother (Indlovukazi). In practice, however, most power is vested in the king, though it is often argued that the giving of authority wholesale to the royal male in this way is a neo-traditionalistic as opposed to truly traditional custom.[citation needed]

Former diarchies[edit]

Roman Republic[edit]

The Roman Republic was ruled by two consuls, elected each year and each holding a veto power over the other's actions.[citation needed]

Swedish monarchs[edit]

In England, Scotland, and Ireland[edit]

  • William III and Mary II held joint sovereignty over the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1688 to 1694.

Lithuanian monarchs[edit]

The Lithuanian Grand Dukes typically selected submonarchs from their families or loyal subjects to assist controlling the Grand Duchy. However, the Grand Dukes remained superior.

A slightly different system developed for a brief period after Vytautas became Grand Duke, where nominally Vytautas ruled together with Jogaila, who took the title of aukščiausiasis kunigaikštis (Supreme Duke), but he has not once used the title to take any action, and in general the powers invested in the title were not clearly stated in any documents, besides the Pact of Horodlo, which guaranteed that Jogaila would have to approve the selection of a Lithuanian Grand Duke. The title was not used by any other king of Poland after Jogaila.

Classical Sparta[edit]

Classical Sparta in ancient Greece was ruled for over 700 years by two kings at a time (q.v., List of Kings of Sparta) who could veto one another's actions, in addition Sparta had groups of officials known as Ephors and a council of elders.

Spiritual and temporal kings[edit]

Another common pattern of diarchy has one king in charge of spiritual matters and another, usually subordinate to the first, in charge of temporal or military matters. This pattern was followed in early Hungarian society by the spiritual kende and the military gyula. The Khazars were ruled by the spiritual khagan and the military bek. During the shogunate of Japan, the emperor held spiritual and nominal authority over the whole country, while the shogun held temporal authority.

Colonial Canada[edit]

From 1841 to 1867 the Province of Canada was usually governed jointly by two premiers, one from mostly English-speaking Canada West and one from mostly French-speaking Canada East.


See Dual system of government

Other usage[edit]

Australian Defence Organisation[edit]

The Australian Defence Organisation (ADO) is an Australian Government organisation which consists of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the civilian Department of Defence personnel supporting the ADF. The Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of the Department of Defence jointly manage the ADO under a "diarchy" wherein both report directly to the Minister for Defence. The ADO diarchy is a governance structure unique in the Australian Commonwealth public service.


On 20 August 1917 in the British House of Commons, the newly appointed Secretary of State, Edwin Samuel Montagu, made the "Grand Declaration", which said that British policy was "increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration and the gradual development of self-governing institutions with a view to progressive realization of responsible government in British India as an integral part of the British Empire".

In pursuance of the policy laid down in the announcements by Montagu, the Secretary of State and Frederic Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford, the Governor-General of India, made an extensive tour of India in 1917 and 1918 and produced the Montague - Chelmsford Report containing recommendations that paved the way for Government of India Act 1919.

That act of 1919 introduced diarchy, or dual government, in the provinces, where the executive was to be headed by a governor appointed by the Secretary of State, who could consult the Governor General. The governor was responsible to the Secretary of State for acts of omission and commission. He was to maintain law and order in the province and ensure that the provincial administration worked smoothly. In respect of transferred subjects, he was to be assisted by his ministers whereas reserved subjects were to be administered by the Governor General and his executive council.

The members of the Executive council were to be appointed by Secretary of State and were responsible to him in all matters. There were certain matters that he was to administer at his own discretion, in which he was responsible to the Secretary of State. Each councillor was to remain in office for a period of four years. Their salaries and service conditions were not subject to the vote of provincial legislature. All decisions in the council were to be taken by a majority of votes, the Governor being able to break ties.

Northern Ireland[edit]

The positions First Minister and deputy First Minister operate as a diarchy and have done so since 1998. The devolved government of Northern Ireland established after the Belfast Agreement in 1998 has a system whereby the Assembly elects two leaders, one from each of the two main communities (unionist and nationalist). These two leaders actually have identical powers even though they are called First Minister and deputy First Minister respectively and serve jointly.

See also[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diarchy — Please support Wikipedia.
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21 news items

The Guardian Nigeria

Wed, 09 Jul 2014 16:37:30 -0700

The Rivers State Governor, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, last week took some journalists on an infrastructure tour of the state, in the course of which he fielded questions on current issues in the state and the country at large. Olawale Olaleye ...
The Real News Network
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 01:15:00 -0700

And then there was a period of diarchy, which is considered to be the Third Republic, between '86 and 1993, when a general election by the military was annulled by the--presidential elections was annulled. And then Abacha came to power, and you had a ...

Hindu Business Line

Hindu Business Line
Fri, 18 Jul 2014 02:38:19 -0700

4 As of 2014, Europe has 12 monarchies, 11 of which are the seven kingdoms, two principalities, one papacy and one diarchy (Andorra). Which is the missing one? 5 Which north Indian, who ruled in the 7th century with his capital at Kanauj, is believed ...
The Guardian Nigeria
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:00:00 -0700

It was the Gowon-Awolowo diarchy that abolished the derivation principle and funnelled all the revenue to the ravenous central government under the guise of depriving the breakaway Biafra Republic of 1967-1970 of funds to prosecute the civil war. This ...


Nigerian Tribune
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 16:00:10 -0700

He also declared that the country is running a diarchy , not a democracy, adding that the civilians and the military are sharing power. He also said that the position of his party on the Ekiti election was not confusing, adding that the party was ...

Brisbane Times

Brisbane Times
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 06:52:30 -0700

He notes the commission's view that ''it is not clear defence headquarters in Canberra has the capacity to drive efficiency and better policy outcomes'' and asks if the diarchy (the joint management by the Defence Force chief and the department ...

Leadership Newspapers

Leadership Newspapers
Sat, 12 Jul 2014 17:00:00 -0700

Governor Of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has exhibited courage in Nigeria's political environment, despite some forces massed against him. In an interview with editors, he spoke on the just concluded national convention of his party, the APC ...
The Korea Herald
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 04:37:30 -0700

The governor's office was adapted in the Constitution from diarchy (1919) and the provincial autonomy (1935) models of British India to suit the parliamentary government in the Indian states. The post-partition fears expressed in the Constituent ...

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