Governance is apparently an old word, although it has become far more widespread recently.
I wonder if you have come across it in contexts that are neither political or contemporary?
What did it mean then?
"Governance" is in common use in the context of information systems management. It basically comes down to who has the right to make what decisions about information systems in a company. There's even a whole book on it, IT Governance by Weill and Ross (Harvard Business School Press, 2004), and a professional organization devoted to it (the IT Governance Institute).
(That's not political, though it is contemporary. I know it doesn't meet your combined criteria, but I thought I'd mention it in case it contributes anything.)