is a form of government
characterized by a single leader or group of leaders and little or no toleration for political pluralism
or independent media
According to other definitions, democracies
are a form of government in which "those who govern are selected through contested elections"; therefore, dictatorships are "not democracies".
With the advent of the 19th and 20th centuries, dictatorships and constitutional democracies emerged as the world's two major forms of government
, gradually eliminating monarchies
, one of the traditional widespread forms of government of the time. Typically, in a dictatorial regime, the leader of the country is identified with the title of dictator
; although, their formal title may more closely resemble something similar to leader
. A common aspect that characterized dictatorship is taking advantage of their strong personality, usually by suppressing freedom of thought and speech of the masses, in order to maintain complete political and social supremacy and stability. Dictatorships and totalitarian
societies generally employ political propaganda
to decrease the influence of proponents of alternative governing systems.
A dictatorship has been largely defined as a form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in the hands of a leader (commonly identified as a dictator
), a "small clique", or a "government organization", and it aims to abolish political pluralism and civilian mobilization.
On the other hand, democracy
, which is generally compared to the concept of dictatorship, is defined as a form of government in which power belongs to the population and rulers are elected through contested elections
A newer form of government (originating around the early 20th century) commonly linked to the concept of dictatorship is known as totalitarianism
. It is characterized by the presence of a single political party and more specifically, by a powerful leader (a real role model
) who imposes his personal and political prominence. The two fundamental aspects that contribute to the maintenance of the power are a steadfast collaboration between the government and the police force, and a highly developed ideology. The government has "total control of mass communications and social and economic organizations".
According to Hannah Arendt
, totalitarianism is a new and extreme form of dictatorship composed of "atomized, isolated individuals".
In addition, she affirmed that ideology plays a leading role in defining how the entire society should be organized. According to the political scientist Juan Linz
, the distinction between an authoritarian regime and a totalitarian one is that while an authoritarian regime seeks suffocate politics and political mobilization, but totalitarianism seeks to control politics and political mobilization.
However, one of the most recent classification of dictatorships does not identify totalitarianism as a form of dictatorship. Barbara Geddes
's study focuses in how elite-leader and elite-mass relations influence authoritarian
politics. Her typology identifies the key institutions that structure elite politics in dictatorships (i.e. parties and militaries). The study is based on and directly related to some factors like the simplicity of the categorizations, cross-national applicability, the emphasis on elites and leaders, and the incorporation of institutions (parties and militaries) as central to shaping politics. According to her, a dictatorial government may be classified in five typologies: military dictatorships, single-party dictatorships, personalist dictatorships, monarchies
, and hybrid dictatorships.
Military dictatorships are regimes in which a group of officers holds power, determines who will lead the country, and exercises influence over policy. High-level elites
and a leader
are the members of the military dictatorship. Military dictatorships are characterized by rule by a professionalized military as an institution. In military regimes, elites are referred to as junta members, who are typically senior officers (and often other high-level officers) in the military.
This type of dictatorship was imposed during the 20th century in countries such as, Chile
by Augusto Pinochet
by Jorge Rafael Videla
and other leaders, Uruguay
by Juan Maria Bordaberry
by Alfredo Stroessner
by Hugo Banzer
by Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco
Single-party dictatorships are regimes in which one party
dominates politics. In single-party dictatorships, a single party has access to political posts and control over policy. In single-party dictatorships, party elites are typically members of the ruling body of the party, sometimes called the central committee
, or secretariat
. Those groups of individuals controls the selection of party officials and "organizes the distribution of benefits to supporters and mobilizes citizens to vote and show support for party leaders".
Personalist dictatorships are regimes in which all power lies in the hands of a single individual. Personalist dictatorships differ from other forms of dictatorships in their access to key political positions, other fruits of office, and depend much more on the discretion of the personalist dictator. Personalist dictators may be members of the military or leaders of a political party. However, neither the military nor the party exercises power independently from the dictator. In personalist dictatorships, the elite corps are usually made up of close friends or family members of the dictator. These individuals are all typically handpicked to serve their posts by the dictator.
According to a 2019 study, personalist dictatorships are more repressive than other forms of dictatorship.
Monarchic dictatorships are in regimes in which "a person of royal descent has inherited the position of head of state in accordance with accepted practice or constitution." Regimes are not considered dictatorships if the monarch's role is largely ceremonial, but absolute monarchies
, such as Saudi Arabia
, can be considered hereditary dictatorships
. Real political power must be exercised by the monarch for regimes to be classified as such. Elites in monarchies are typically members of the royal family
Hybrid dictatorships are regimes that blend qualities of personalist, single-party, and military dictatorships. When regimes share characteristics of all three forms of dictatorships, they are referred to as triple threats. The most common forms of hybrid dictatorships are personalist/single-party hybrids and personalist/military hybrids.
Generally, two research approaches exist: the minimalist approach, which focuses on whether a country has continued elections that are competitive, and the substantive approach, which expands the concept of democracy to include human rights, freedom of the press
, and the rule of law. The Democracy-Dictatorship Index is seen as an example of the minimalist approach, whereas the Polity data series
, is more substantive.
Between the two world wars, three types of dictatorships have been described: constitutional, counterrevolutionary and fascist
. Since World War II
, a broader range of dictatorships has been recognized, including Third World
dictatorships, theocratic or religious dictatorships and dynastic or family-based dictatorships.
Dictators in the Roman Empire
During the Republican phase
of Ancient Rome
, a Roman dictator
was the special magistrate who held well defined powers, normally for six months at a time, usually in combination with a consulship
.  
Roman dictators were allocated absolute power during times of emergency. In execution, their power was originally neither arbitrary nor unaccountable, being subject to law and requiring retrospective justification. There were no such dictatorships after the beginning of the 2nd century BC, and later dictators such as Sulla
and the Roman emperors
exercised power much more personally and arbitrarily. A concept that remained anathema to traditional Roman society, the institution was not carried forward into the Roman Empire
19th-century Latin American caudillos
Fascist dictatorships of the 20th century
In the first half of the 20th century, fascist dictatorships appeared in a variety of European countries at the same time as the rise of communism, which are distinct from dictatorships in Latin America and postcolonial dictatorships in Africa and Asia. The main examples of fascist dictatorship include:
Latin American dictatorships of the 20th century
Dictatorships established by Operation Condor
During the Cold War
, several overthrows
of socialist governments in South America
were financed and supported by the States' Central Intelligence Agency
. However, the States had previously made attempts to repress the communists
via the "National Security Doctrine" that the States imposed in the 1950s to indoctrinate the soldiers of countries led by them to confront the alleged "communist threat".
From 1942 to 1952 Rafael Leonidas Trujillo
ruled Dominican Republic
, repressing the Communists
and their opponents. Trujillo
ordered the assassination of Romulo Betancourt
, who was the founder of Democratic Action
, but before he found out about this ambush, Trujillo's plan ended in failure. In October 1937 the Parsley massacre
took place in which the main objective was to assassinate immigrants Hatians
residing in Dominican Republic
, it is estimated that the dead during the massacre were 12,168 dead, by the president Haitian Élie Lescot
, 12,136 dead and 2419 injured by Jean Price-Mars
, 17,000 dead by Joaquin Balaguer
and 35,000 killed by Bernardo Vega
. The Dictatorship
ended when Trujillo
was assassinated in 1961 in the city of Santo Domingo
On November 24, 1948 Venezuelan armed forces
took power based on a Coup d'état
, overthrowing the government of Romulo Gallegos
, who was a president of center left
. Subsequently, a board composed of 3 generals was organized, one of them was Marcos Perez Jimenez
, who later became dictator
. The dictatorship repressed the Democratic Action
and the Communist Party of Venezuela
, both from left
. Pedro Estrada
led the DSN, which was a military organization Venezuelan
that repressed opponents and protesters. Among the cases of crimes against humanity are the death of the Democratic Action
politician, Antonio Pinto Salinas
who was assassinated while trying to flee from Venezuela
. In 1958 an attempt was organized to overthrow Perez Jimenez
, faced with political pressure Jimenez
had to get rid of many of his allies such as Pedro Estrada
. That same year, a movement of civilians and military men joined forces to force Marcos Perez Jimenez
and his most loyal ministers to leave the country. The dictatorship ended when Marcos Perez Jimenez
was exiled from the country, the civilians were To celebrate in the street, the political prisoners were released and the exiles returned to the country, the Venezuelans once again elected Romulo Betancourt
, who had already been president years ago. However, he continued to use the political and economic system of the Jimenez
In 1972 Guillermo Rodriguez Lara
established a dictatorial government, and called his government the "Nationalist Revolution." In 1973, the country's entry into the organization OPEC
was promoted, the government also imposed agrarian reforms in practice. The dictatorship ended in 1976.
Dictatorships in Africa and Asia after World War II
After World War II, dictators established themselves in the several new states of Africa
, often at the expense or failure of the constitutions inherited from the colonial powers. These constitutions often failed to work without a strong middle class or work against the preexisting autocratic rule. Some elected presidents and prime ministers captured power by suppressing the opposition and installing one-party rule and others established military dictatorships through their armies. Whatever their form, these dictatorships had an adverse impact on economic growth and the quality of political institutions.
Dictators who stayed in office for a long period of time found it increasingly difficult to carry out sound economic policies.
The often-cited exploitative dictatorship is the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko
, who ruled Zaire
from 1965 to 1997, embezzling over $5 billion from his country.
Pakistan is another country to have been governed by 3 military dictators for almost 32 years in 7 decades of its existence. Starting with General Muhammad Ayub Khan
who ruled from 1958–1969. Next was General Zia-ul-Haq
who usurped power in 1977 and held on to power the longest until he died in an air crash in 1988. Ten years after Zia, General Pervez Musharraf
got control after defeat against India in the Kargil war
. He remained in power for 9 years until 2008. Suharto
is another prime example, having embezzled $15-35 billion
during his 31-year dictatorship known as the New Order
. In the Philippines
, the conjugal dictatorship
of Ferdinand Marcos
and Imelda Marcos
embezzled billions of dollars in public funds,
while the nation's foreign debt skyrocketed from $599 million in 1966 to $26.7 billion in 1986, with debt payment being reachable only by 2025.
The Marcos dictatorship has been noted for its anti-Muslim killings,
political repression, censorship, and human rights violations
including various methods of torture
One of the rationales that the Bush Administration employed periodically during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq
is that deposing Saddam Hussein and installing a democratic government
in Iraq would promote democracy in other Middle Eastern countries
However, according to The Huffington Post
, "The 45 nations and territories with little or no democratic rule represent more than half of the roughly 80 countries now hosting U.S. bases. ... Research by political scientist Kent Calder
confirms what's come to be known as the "dictatorship hypothesis": The United States tends to support dictators [and other undemocratic regimes] in nations where it enjoys basing facilities."
Theories of dictatorship
This section needs expansion
. You can help by adding to it
. (December 2017)
suggests that the emergence of dictatorships can be linked to the concept of "roving bandits", individuals in an atomic system who move from place to place extracting wealth from individuals. These bandits provide a disincentive for investment and production. Olson states that a community of individuals would be served less badly if that bandit were to establish himself as a stationary bandit to monopolize theft in the form of taxes. Except from the community, the bandits themselves will be better served, according to Olson, by transforming themselves into "stationary bandits". By settling down and making themselves the rulers of a territory, they will be able to make more profits through taxes than they used to obtain through plunder. By maintaining order and providing unsollicited protection to the community, the bandits will create an environment in which people can increase their surplus which means a greater taxable base. Thus a potential dictator will have a greater incentive to provide an illusion of security to a given community from which he is extracting taxes and conversely, the unthinking part of the people from whom he extracts the taxes are more likely to produce because they will be unconcerned with potential theft by other bandits. This is the rational that bandits use in order to explain their transformation from "roving bandits" into "stationary bandits".
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- ^ Divergent Incentives for Dictators: Domestic Institutions and (International Promises Not to) Torture Appendix "Unlike substantive measures of democracy (e.g., Polity IV and Freedom House), the binary conceptualization of democracy most recently described by Cheibub, Gandhi and Vree-land (2010) focuses on one institution—elections—to distinguish between dictatorships and democracies. Using a minimalist measure of democracy rather than a substantive one better allows for the isolation of causal mechanisms (Cheibub, Gandhi and Vreeland, 2010, 73) linking regime type to human rights outcomes."
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