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Difference Between Democracy And Dictatorship Essay

Democracy means a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a form of government where the government is controlled either by the whole population, or by a set of people elected to run the government on behalf of the people.

Dictatorship is a form of government where one person or political entity has absolute authority and control over the government. Attempts are made to maintain the powerful position of the the dictator or his political entity.

Democracy and dictatorship are the two contradictory political ideologies. They form different forms of Government and are quite different from each-other. Let us look at the following distinction:

1. Sovereignty: The people exercise sovereign power in democracy. The adult population exercise their voting rights and elect their representatives to run the government. So democracy is called public opinion-oriented government. A true democratic government assumes the participation of common people in the governance.

Dictatorship form of government is controlled by the dictator. There is no place of public opinion in dictatorship. The people cannot take part in administration either directly or indirectly. Here, irresistible dominance of only one ruler is present everywhere.

2. Stability: Democracy suffers from the negative aspects of party politics. Owing to conflict of contradictory party interests, political defections, etc. the government frequently falls in democracy. One of the main defects of democracy is the lack of stability.

Dictatorship, on the other, is the rule of one party. There is absence of frequent change of governments in a dictatorship setup. So, defections, political groupism and conflict of contradictory interests are absent here.

3. People’s consent versus brutal force: Democracy is a form of government based on the consent of the people. The people can change the government if they desire so.

But in dictatorship the government is based on brute force, not on the will of the citizens. The dictator forces the people to abide by his tyrannical rule with the help of the police and the military and other representative measures.

4. Self-government: Democracy recognizes the right of self-governance. The government is formed by the elected representatives of the people of the country. In case, the people of the country are not satisfied with the working of the representatives, they can select another candidate in the next election.

The right of self-governance of people is absolutely refused in dictatorship.

5. Whether individual or state: In democracy, the state is considered necessary for the welfare of people.

But in dictatorship, emphasis is laid on the all-pervading authority of the state and not on the individual.

6. Party system: Democracy encourages different political parties with divergent ideologies to function in the political system. In fact, multiple parties are indispensable in democracy. Every party can work freely in such a government. Opposition party may form public opinion in its favour by criticizing the loopholes of the government.

But in dictatorship all other parties are abolished except the party of the dictator. The views other than the views of the dictated by the dictator is not tolerated.

7. Nature of administration: In democracy majority of people are ignorant, uneducated and superstitious. Very often, they are unable to elect a suitable representative. As a result, such administration becomes the rule of the disabled and uneducated people. Further, a democratic set-up has to undergo a lot of constitutional formalities which delays the decision making process.

But some are of the opinion that in dictatorship the country is governed under the leadership of a well-qualified and expert ruler and so it is considered very speedy and effective in solving the myriad problems of the country.

8. Emergency provision: In democracy, decisions are taken through discussions and deliberations. So, this type of government is not useful at the times of emergency like war, ethnic and communal riots, natural calamities and high profile terrorist attacks.

But the decision of the dictator is final in dictatorship and so it is very useful in times of grave danger.

9.  Liberty: Democracy stands for liberty and individual rights. Recognition of political and social freedom of the people is the characteristic feature of democracy.

But in a dictatorship all sorts of freedom of men are denied. In such form of government, total militarization is thrust upon the body and the mind of the people. Individual liberty has little place in a dictatorship setup.

10. Effect of party rule: Party conflict, misuse of the voting system, wastage of money in election etc. are found to be the demerits of democracies.

But all these vices of the party system are not found in dictatorship as there is only one party in dictatorship.

11. Equality and freedom: Democracy is based on the principles of equality, equal rights, personal freedom, etc. People of divergent views are free to express their opinion. Every citizen is allowed to freely develop their inner potentialities without restrictions. The personal endeavor of the individual and the collective endeavor of the society is recognized.

But all these principles have no value in dictatorship. Dictatorship stands for conformity with the state. In such administration the majority of the people compelled to accept the rule against their interest without any protest.

12. Possibility of revolution: The people can change the government in a peaceful manner through the ballot in democracy. So, this form of government is most likely to be free from the possibility of revolution.

But the government can never be changed peacefully in dictatorship. The suppressed discontent of the people for a long time takes the form of revolution and destroys such government.


On the basis of the aforesaid discussion, it may be said that democracy is superior to dictatorship. But, in practice, liberal democracy being guided by the interest of the rich and merchant classes ignores the interests of the people. The majority of the people have practically no role to play here. Judged from this point of view, it may be said that popular sovereignty can really be established in socialist democracy. In such democracy, there is the control of the people over the means of production. As a result, the political system is also run by the people for the people.

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Main Difference

Two political regime, “democracy” and “dictatorship” stand in contrast to each other as both are entirely different from each others. The differences mostly arises on the methodology adopted for government and perception of people about these two governance system. With the commencement of 19th century, “constitutional democracy” and “dictatorship” emerged as a two system of governance. In democracy eligible candidates are elected through a free and fair election process and after that they become eligible to hold the public office according to term specified in constitution or law while dictatorship or autocracy is a governance system in which one powerful person or group of few powerful persons rule on the entire nation without any permission by law.


Democracy is the name of government of people. Eligible candidates are elected through a free and fair election process and after that they become eligible to hold the public office according to term specified in constitution or law. Democracy is the most acceptable principle of governance in most of the countries. No one is allowed in this system to came into power without passing through a proper channel that is general election system. All the citizens are equal according to law. There is no concept of centralization of power and authorities in democracy. Representative government is the other word that is used for the democratic government. It is purely the anti-shape of authoritarianism where the selected politicians of the public set the all public and private behavior in the country. It is the government system of the modern day world that at first replaced the traditional monarch and caliph system. Today the constitutional democracy is one of the powerful ways of government along with dictatorship that is still popular in various part of the country. There are many disadvantages of democracy that are regarding citizen representation, high participation by the public and likewise many other facilities and options for the general public. But at the same time democracy has been criticizing for promoting the red carpet, delay in important public decisions and no system of accountability. The brutal truth about democracy is that the 51% ruled over the rest of 49%. Political minorities are oppressed by the majority. In democracy, it is believed that public will account for the politicians in the upcoming election and for the same reason most of the politicians in the democratic government never present them in front of judiciary. Democracy is based on the three fundamental principles of upward control, political equality and social norms.


Dictatorship or autocracy is a governance system in which one powerful person or group of few powerful persons rule on the entire nation without any permission by law. Dictator rule on the entire nation up to his death or will whichever is earlier. He is the central place of the government and has all the authorities and powers regarding decisions making. In fact, dictator is itself the law and others are bound to follow the same. Expression of opinion, freedom and liberties are sacrificed in dictatorship. In dictatorship countries, most of the dictators have military background. There are various forms of dictatorship and the despotism is the most common one that means the rule by a single entity with absolute authority and power. The ruling entity can be either individual like autocracy or can be a group like an oligarchy. It is purely the system of authoritarianism where the selected politicians of the public set the all public and private behavior in the country. Dictatorship can be further sub-classified into military dictatorship, civil-military dictatorship, one party state system, personalist or hybrid government system. Despite the fact that democratic system of government is gradually increasing in the country still the many countries like to adopt the system of dictatorial government. The main advantages of dictatorship are not having red tape system, very low crime rate, employment opportunities and quick regression. But at the same time there are dozens of disadvantages of dictatorship as well that are in addition to restriction over freedom of choices, selection and expression. It is also the brutal side of the dictatorship that most of the wars were imposed during the eras of dictators like Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, etc. It is likely to collapse and moreover, the countries with constitutional democracy reluctant to make relationship with country having dictatorial form of government.

Key Differences

  • In democracy, ruler come through a free and fair election process while dictator comes according to his own will.
  • Democracy is a full form of government in which every public officer has its own defined responsibilities while dictatorship is the name of government of one or a small group of people.
  • People have right to choose what is right for them while dictator choose what is right without considering the opinion of masses.
  • In democracy, people have right of freedom of expression and speech while dictator controls the life of people in dictatorship.
  • Economic suffers badly in dictatorship as no country wants to make relationship with a country ruled by dictator while in democracy every country strives to make the favorable relationships.
  • Dictatorship has many drawbacks but the fact is that dictatorship government always performed better than democratically government because dictatorship has practical approach to solving problem instead of focusing on paper work.
  • “In democracy you vote first and take orders later; in dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.” said by Charles Bukowski.
  • In democracy public is the one and only source of power. In dictatorship, the sources of power are family dictatorship, military dictatorship, constitutional dictatorship and self-coup.
  • Democracy brings the peace and making good relations with other nations while most of the wars are imposed during the eras of dictators.
  • Dictatorship is quick responsive to the problems as compared to democracy that take too much time while deciding over the sensitive issues.
  • Democracy is full with red tape that is significantly low in the dictatorship.
  • Most of the African and Asian countries are examples of dictatorship while western countries are the examples of democracy.
  • In democracy, ruler remains answerable to his voters and party. Dictator never answers to anyone as he possesses the absolute authority and power to govern.
  • The representative of political parties set the rules & regulations and policies for the people of a country in the democratic government system. Dictatorship has no concern with all these formalities. The government itself controls all aspects of the state in the dictatorship.
  • Press and the journalists have freedom to criticize over the policies of the government in the democracy. The first step of the dictatorial government is to put ban on all these areas.
  • In the democracy, the government has less control over the people and their activities while in the dictatorship the people are even bound to set their standard of living according to the orders of the government.
  • Democratic government can pass policies for army while the parliament can’t pass law without the prior onset of the army chief.
  • Nationalism system remains at top priority in dictatorship while in democracy system the focus of government remains more on privatization system.

Popular Quotes

  • The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting. Charles Bukowski
  • The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness. Niels Bohr
  • Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty. Plato

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TagsDemocracyDemocracy vs DictatorshipDictatorshipGovernment

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