The Klingon Empire is ruled by a Chancellor with the support of a ruling council. The Chancellor is chosen by an Arbiter of Succession, who chooses a new ruler when the Chancellor dies from eligible candidates based on rules established in Klingon law. A Chancellor with some foresight can decide who will be the Arbiter of Succession after his own death.
A clone of the Empire's founder, Kahless, was recently crowned Emperor, but his title is ceremonial and carries no real governmental authority.
The Klingons are one of the most formidable military powers in the Alpha Quadrant. Martial traditions are so widely revered in Klingon society that almost every Klingon has at least basic military training. Similarly, virtually every Klingon has personal weapons and body armor, and attaining any sort of political influence requires a good military service record. Klingon technology is comparable to that of the other major Alpha Quadrant powers, and they invest heavily in military assets. In an alternate timeline, the Klingon Empire was shown to be decisively winning a war against the United Federation of Planets (TNG, "Yesterday's Enterprise").