Farewell to Generalissimo Franco
A colleague has inquired whether it is advisable to maintain the distinction in the Associated Press Stylebook that a regime is a system of rule rather than a particular ruler or government.
Garner on Usage is silent on the subject. The New Oxford American Dictionary gives as its first meaning “the government, esp. an authoritarian one.” Merriam-Webster.com gives “a form of government” but also “a government in power.” American Heritage also includes "a government in power," without triggering any dispute from its panel of usage advisers.
I suspect that the stylebook entry dates from the 1960s, particularly since the entry for regime in Theodore Bernstein’s The Careful Writer (1965) closely parallels the AP Stylebook entry. Further evidence is that the government, junta, regime entry in AP gives the examples “[U]se the Franco government in referring to the government of Spain under Francisco Franco, not Franco regime.”
Some of our younger colleagues may need to be informed that the generalissimo climbed the golden staircase back in 1975,* suggesting that this unrevised entry is one more fossil remnant that current writers and editors can safely ignore.