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shadow government (plural shadow governments)

  1. A government-in-waiting that is prepared to take control in response to certain events. Often used to refer to leadership of the largest opposition party in parliament, which would assume control should the ruling party be displaced in elections.
  2. A government run by an unelected bureaucracy, or a state within a state or deep state.
  3. A family of conspiracy theories based on the notion that real and actual political power resides not with publicly elected representatives but with private individuals who are exercising power behind the scenes.