A shadow government is a "government-in-waiting" that remains in waiting with the intention of taking control of a government in response to some event.

Politics[edit | edit source]

In a parliamentary system, the largest opposition party often refers to itself as a shadow government, and if it is sufficiently large, it may also have a Shadow Cabinet in which top opposition leaders shadow the policies and actions of the corresponding cabinet ministers. They are also prepared to assume the respective ministries of responsibility should their party come to power in an election. For example, in Britain the largest opposition party's defence spokesman might refer to themselves as the Shadow Defence Secretary. Smaller parties may also have spokespeople, but these do not generally use shadow names.

It is also used as a somewhat pejorative term to denote a government that takes over in the event of a disaster. Guerrillas sometimes have equivalent structures to the present government in hopes that when the guerrilla-group overthrows the present government, the guerrilla-forces will more easily be able to transition from militarist to administrative capacity. Also, the term "shadow government" can be used loosely to refer to a guerrilla-force that controls and administers the majority of the physical area of a country, rendering the official national government significantly less able to administer its policies. Some consider the current strength of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the New People's Army to be to this degree.

In nations with less apparent strife, there are several safeguards in place in the event of a disaster strong enough to disrupt the functioning of the government. The United States has Continuity of Operations Plan, Continuity of Government and the presidential line of succession plans.

The tasks and objectives of Operation Gladio varied from country to country, but in many countries the 'stay-behind' army consisted of a pre-planned cabinet to rule the country in an interim fashion if the country were invaded by Warsaw Pact states, either in-country or in exile.

In the United Kingdom the Civil Contingencies Secretariat is responsible for planning for government continuity in the event of a catastrophe. None of these safeguards is itself a "shadow government", but they provide, at least in theory, a blueprint for what to do if the governmental structure collapses.

Alternative definitions[edit | edit source]

The concept is popular in many books, movies, and other productions that focus on or use as thematic elements "conspiracy" theories and/or science fiction. Conspiracy theorists define shadow government as a secret government within the government. This secret government is the "real" government that controls the known government's basic course. The members' identities and meeting-halls of the secret shadow government are known by only a select few. This secret government is often portrayed as corrupt and having connections to the CIA, the Italian Mafia, Illuminati, and Freemasons. It usually knows about and handles weird situations that are kept secret, such as the New World Order, the Apocalypse, aliens, the Antichrist, demons, human body- or soul harvesting, missing persons, experiments on people, etc. The shadow government is often funded by money that has been purposely "misplaced" within the government's system, or concealed behind government-contract projects that are false fronts for other undertakings.

One of the most popular manifestations of the Shadow Government is Majestic 12, figuring prominently in both conspiracy literature and works of conspiracy fiction, and often tied in with the Roswell incident of 1947.

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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