Difference Between Democracy and Dictatorship

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Democracy and Dictatorship

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Establishing the right government for a country is a crucial step in maintaining balance and harmony among the citizens. Various types of governments exist throughout the world, some through religious beliefs, some through borrowing and creating hybrid models, and some through affiliations. However, two major categories of such models are democracy and dictatorship

Democracy vs. Dictatorship

The main difference between democracy and dictatorship lies in how the representatives of the respective governments are elected. Governments that follow democracy allow the people to choose and elect their representatives whereas governments that follow dictatorship typically choose their leader through inheritance or hierarchy, following which the individual will have control over the whole country.

Difference Between Democracy and Dictatorship in Tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Democracy Dictatorship
Leader The leader of the government is selected through a voting system, by electing the party that has the most votes. The leader of such a government is usually elected through hierarchy, inheritance, and often immoral or illegal measures.
Authority The leader of the party has to answer to their respective party members and the rest of the country. The leader of the party has complete control over the party and the country.
Press and Media The newspapers, TV channels, and other forms of the press are allowed to publish media that criticizes the government or exposes any mistakes. The government controls what reaches the people and what they are allowed to perceive from any form of possibly misguided news they receive.
Justice Justice system is established in a moral way such that everyone receives equal and appropriate treatment. The justice system is not entirely trustworthy and the provision of justice lies in the hands of the dictator.
Rights The government cannot control or impose any kind of authority on people’s opinions or beliefs as they can enjoy the relevant rights to express the same. Dictatorship allows the leader to inspect and control every portion of people’s lives including any modes of entertainment they can enjoy, such as radio, cinema, magazines, etc.
Competition While one political party is elected, the other political parties can still exist and develop their party or increase their reputation. A Dictatorial government does not allow the existence of other parties. There is only one party that operates while any other party that opposes or creates competition will be destroyed or banned.
Welfare of People The government must work towards the betterment of people’s lives as this is how they can stay in their authority since the citizens elect the leader. It entirely lies in the hands of the government whether they are interested in the welfare of the people. They do not need to make efforts since the people cannot elect their leader.

What is Democracy?

Principles of a Democratic Government;-

  • Control over any kind of government decisions over policies lies in the hands of the representative officials that were elected, constitutionally.
  • The elected representative is selected through recurring elections that are conducted fairly.
  • Coercions can occur to increase power and control over the country but are comparatively uncommon.
  • All the citizens above the established voting age can enjoy the right to vote during elections.
  • All the citizens above the established official age can enjoy the right to run for the official positions to be elected.
  • All the citizens under the particular government can enjoy the right to express themselves freely without the fear of punishment on political matters.
  • All the citizens possess the right to seek access to other alternative sources of information as they are also protected by the law.
  • All the citizens have the right to form independent or relatively independent organizations. This can also include political parties or groups of relevant interests.
  • All the elected officials can exercise their powers and operate the government freely as long as they abide by the law and do not violate any human rights.
  • The established polity is self-governing. This means that it can act independently of any kind of constraints that might be imposed by others.
  • The citizens of the government have the right to speak or publish their views which can include negative criticism concerning the government.

Types of Democracy:

  1. Direct Democracy:
  • A direct democracy can be easily explained by stating that there are no intermediaries or any houses of parliament involved in the process of voting.
  • The people have high control over their lives generally as any kind of policies or laws need to go through the public before being passed, even taxes!
  • This kind of democracy suits smaller countries where the population is low and most of the crowd is literate and educated. It is an added advantage if the crowd has homogenous beliefs.
  • However, this democracy might not work well for larger countries. A bigger crowd means lesser chances of homogeneity. Thus, there will be a higher potential for complications.
  1. Representative Democracy:
  • This is the most common type of democracy that one will come across in the world.
  • Here, democracy allows you to vote and elect people who will represent you at a legislative or an executive level. These representatives are further supposed to voice their needs and suggestions regarding issues.
  • There is a higher division of labor in this kind of democracy that allows better distribution of work.
  • However, the elected representatives might fail to solve the issues and pursue the interests of the voters since the involvement of intermediaries may water down the gravitas of the issue.
  1. Parliamentary Democracy:
  • This kind of democracy allows more control and authority to the legislative and executive branches.
  • The legislature that's been elected will later choose the leader of the government, who will act as the prime minister.
  • Here, the head of the state is the president and the head of the government is the prime minister. Thus, they are two different terms.
  • The elected legislature also has the power to remove the head of the government at any given point of time through votes.
  1. Presidential Democracy:
  • Presidential democracy can be described as the opposite of parliamentary democracy.
  • Here, the president has the power to head the government, while a legislative branch is erected to keep the executive.
  • The president can prevent the adoption of a bill since he has the power to do so.
  • However, if the rest of the legislature feels otherwise, they can gather enough votes to override the president’s decision.
  1. Authoritarian Democracy:
  • This is a kind of democracy that favors the people who are rich or reputed.
  • These rich and elite people hold significant power in the process of parliamentary decisions.
  • The government does not entirely lie in the hands of these people but has a considerable say in major decisions.
  1. Participatory Democracy:
  • This type of democracy can be described as the exact opposite of authoritarian democracy.
  • A participatory democracy aims to allow the citizens more power and contributions while taking major decisions.
  • The state is dissected into smaller networks and communities that allow better discussion and more space for voicing their concerns.
  1. Islamic Democracy:
  • This is an example of a religious democracy where the government makes laws that abide by a particular religion’s laws.
  • An Islamic democracy is a popular example where the laws and teachings extracted from the Qur’an are used to guide the creation of the government’s policies.
  • All the representatives here are also chosen by citizens of the country.

What is Dictatorship?

Principles of a dictatorial government:-

  • One Supreme Leader: The head of the government is given power by the country. He is not just handed authority but considered a national symbol and even worshiped. Any amount of votes cannot override his decision.
  • One-party Country: In a dictatorial government, there is no freedom for any other party to exist other than the one in authority. Any such parties created to oppose the leader will be banned or destroyed.
  • No to Democracy: A dictatorial is considered to be the exact opposite of a democratic government, until its last principle and feature. Here, the government does not allow the people any say while making decisions.
  • Totalitarian state: A totalitarian state is that which doesn't allow the citizens the freedom to choose their source of entertainment or media. The state chooses what kind of news and entertainment must be available to the public and thus stays in control of almost every aspect of their life.
  • Neglect of Public and International Opinion: Dictatorial government establishes a strict policy that every citizen must follow. The public has no say in the decision-making process of the government, nor is it allowed to choose its representatives. This also applies to any kind of international opinion as the government believes that their nation is supreme. Dictatorial governments also establish very strict foreign policies, allowing very little space for other countries to take any action or provide opinions, sometimes even entering the country.
  • Imperialist Ideologies: Dictatorship follows the principle of imperialism that promotes the use of violence to expand their empires. There is almost no concept of peaceful trades or pacts to allow any kind of harmony amongst other countries since the particular dictatorial government is believed to be above all countries.
  • Zero Criticism: No citizen belonging to a dictatorial government is allowed to make any resentful or dissenting comments about the government since any kind of negative criticism will lead to severe punishment. All the people are expected to worship the government since they have no choice.
  • Beliefs in Wars: Dictatorial governments use force in more than one context to maintain the kind of government they have established. Most leaders stay in their position by threatening to use force and power through their worshippers and followers on whoever throws competition.

Types of Dictatorship

  1. Military Dictatorships:
  • They started around the 20th century and are now established in countries such as Nigeria, Brazil, Indonesia, Panama, etc.
  • Power is handed over to the military officials who have the highest ranking.
  • Thus, most of the officials in the leadership positions are senior members of the country.
  1. Personalist Dictatorships:
  • This is considered to be the most dictatorial model of all the types of dictatorial governments.
  • A single person leads the country and he can belong to any military base or party.
  1. Single-Party Dictatorships:
  • A single party holds authority over the whole country, a party that can consist of political parties or military officers, or both.
  • Countries such as North Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam follow such models.
  1. Hybrid Dictatorships:
  • These kinds of parties borrow characteristics from all three kinds of dictatorships: Personalist, military, and single-party.
  1. Monarchy Dictatorship:
  • Here, authority is handed over to a person by inheritance.
  • Saudi Arabia is an example of a country that follows such a government.

Main Differences Between Democracy and Dictatorship in Points

  • The leader of a democratic government is appointed through a fair voting system whereas the leader of a dictatorial government is appointed through violence, hierarchy, or inheritance.
  • The leader of a democratic government must answer to his party and voters whereas the leader in a dictatorial government has absolute authority over the whole country.
  • Democracy allows any kind of press and media to criticize the respective government and or their policies and representatives. On the other hand, dictatorship does not leave any space for negative criticism.
  • The established justice system in a democratic government allows equal treatment and appropriate justice for everyone whereas the justice system in a dictatorial government cannot be genuine all the time since the leader can influence it in whatever way he wants.
  • Democracy allows people to enjoy certain rights of freedom that allow them to express their opinions freely whereas dictatorship controls every single aspect of people's lives including the media or entertainment they receive.
  • Democracy allows other parties to exist whereas dictatorship does not allow any competition to the ruling party.


As you can see, Democracy is the complete opposite of Dictatorship. They differ from each other until their very last fundamental concept. Very evidently, we can conclude that democracy is the better option of the two as it allows people to enjoy basic human rights, both in their personal lives and in making their government.




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"Difference Between Democracy and Dictatorship." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sat. 02 Mar. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-democracy-and-dictatorship-272>.

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