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Authoritarianism is a political system characterized by the rejection of democracy and political plurality. It involves the use of strong central power to preserve the political status quo , and reductions in the rule of law, separation of powers, and democratic voting. [1] [2] Political scientists have created many typologies describing variations of authoritarian forms of government. [2] Authoritarian regimes may be either autocratic or oligarchic and may be based upon the rule of a party or the military. [3] [4] States that have a blurred boundary between democracy and authoritarianism have some times been characterized as "hybrid democracies", "hybrid regimes" or "competitive authoritarian" states. [5] [6] [7]


The political scientist Juan Linz, in an influential [8] 1964 work, An Authoritarian Regime: Spain, defined authoritarianism as possessing four qualities:

  1. Limited political pluralism, which is achieved with constraints on the legislature, political parties and interest groups.
  2. Political legitimacy based on appeals to emotion and identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat "easily recognizable societal problems, such as underdevelopment or insurgency."
  3. Minimal political mobilization, and suppression of anti-regime activities.
  4. Ill-defined executive powers, often vague and shifting, used to extend the power of the executive. [9] [10]

Minimally defined, an authoritarian government lacks free and competitive direct elections to legislatures, free and competitive direct or indirect elections for executives, or both. [11] [12] [13] [14] Broadly defined, authoritarian states include countries that lack civil liberties such as freedom of religion, or countries in which the government and the opposition do not alternate in power at least once following free elections. [15] Authoritarian states might contain nominally democratic institutions such as political parties, legislatures and elections which are managed to entrench authoritarian rule and can feature fraudulent, non-competitive elections. [16] Since 1946, the share of authoritarian states in the international political system increased until the mid-1970s but declined from then until the year 2000. [17]


Authoritarianism is characterized by highly concentrated and centralized government power maintained by political repression and the exclusion of potential or supposed challengers by armed force. It uses political parties and mass organizations to mobilize people around the goals of the regime. [18] Adam Przeworski has theorized that "authoritarian equilibrium rests mainly on lies, fear and economic prosperity." [19] However, Daniel A. Bell and Wang Pei used China's experience with COVID-19 to argue that the categories are not so clear cut. [20]

Authoritarianism also tends to embrace the informal and unregulated exercise of political power, a leadership that is "self-appointed and even if elected cannot be displaced by citizens' free choice among competitors", the arbitrary deprivation of civil liberties and little tolerance for meaningful opposition. [18] A range of social controls also attempt to stifle civil society while political stability is maintained by control over and support of the armed forces, a bureaucracy staffed by the regime and creation of allegiance through various means of socialization and indoctrination. [18]

Authoritarianism is marked by "indefinite political tenure" of the ruler or ruling party (often in a one-party state) or other authority. [18] The transition from an authoritarian system to a more democratic form of government is referred to as democratization. [18]

Constitutions in authoritarian regimes

Authoritarian regimes often adopt "the institutional trappings" of democracies such as constitutions. [21] Constitutions in authoritarian states may serve a variety of roles, including "operating manual" (describing how the government is to function); "billboard" (signal of regime's intent), "blueprint" (outline of future regime plans), and "window dressing" (material designed to obfuscate, such as provisions setting forth freedoms that are not honored in practice). [22] Authoritarian constitutions may help legitimize, strengthen, and consolidate regimes. [23] An authoritarian constitution "that successfully coordinates government action and defines popular expectations can also help consolidate the regime's grip on power by inhibiting re coordination on a different set of arrangements." [24] Unlike democratic constitutions, authoritarian constitutions do not set direct limits on executive authority; however, in some cases such documents may function as ways for elites to protect their own property rights or constrain autocrats' behavior. [25]

The Soviet Russia Constitution of 1918, the first charter of the new Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic (RSFSR), was described by Vladimir Lenin as a "revolutionary" document. It was, he said, unlike any constitution drafted by a nation-state. [26] The concept of "authoritarian constitutionalism" has been developed by legal scholar Mark Tushnet. [27] Tushnet distinguishes authoritarian constitutionalist regimes from "liberal constitutionalist" regimes ("the sort familiar in the modern West, with core commitments to human rights and self-governance implemented by means of varying institutional devices") and from purely authoritarian regimes (which reject the idea of human rights or constraints on leaders' power). [27] He describes authoritarian constitutionalist regimes as (1) authoritarian dominant-party states that (2) impose sanctions (such as libel judgments) against, but do not arbitrarily arrest, political dissidents; (3) permit "reasonably open discussion and criticism of its policies"; (4) hold "reasonably free and fair elections", without systemic intimidation, but "with close attention to such matters as the drawing of election districts and the creation of party lists to ensure as best it can that it will prevail and by a substantial margin"; (5) reflect at least occasional responsiveness to public opinion; and (6) create "mechanisms to ensure that the amount of dissent does not exceed the level it regards as desirable." Tushnet cites Singapore as an example of an authoritarian constitutionalist state, and connects the concept to that of hybrid regimes. [27]


Scholars such as Seymour Lipset, [28] Carles Boix, Susan Stokes, [29] Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Evelyne Stephens and John Stephens [30] argue that economic development increases the likelihood of democratization. Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi argue that while economic development makes democracies less likely to turn authoritarian, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that development causes democratization (turning an authoritarian state into a democracy). [31]

Eva Bellin argues that under certain circumstances the bourgeoise and labor are more likely to favor democratization, but less so under other circumstances. [32] Economic development can boost public support for authoritarian regimes in the short-to-medium term. [33]

According to Michael Albertus, most land reform programs tend to be implemented by authoritarian regimes that subsequently withhold property rights from the beneficiaries of the land reform. Authoritarian regimes do so to gain coercive leverage over rural populations. [34]


Authoritarian regimes typically incorporate similar political institutions to that of democratic regimes, although they may serve different purposes. Democratic regimes are marked by institutions that are essential to economic development and individual freedom, including representative legislatures and competitive political parties. [35] [36] Most authoritarian regimes embrace these political structures, but use it in a way that reinforces their power. [35] Authoritarian legislatures, for example, are forums through which leaders may enhance their bases of support, share power, and monitor elites. [37] Additionally, authoritarian party systems are extremely unstable and unconducive to party development, largely due to monopolistic patterns of authority. [38]

Democratic and authoritarian arguably differ most prominently in their elections. Democratic elections are generally inclusive, competitive, and fair. [39] In most instances, the elected leader is appointed to act on behalf of the general will. Authoritarian elections, on the other hand, are frequently subject to fraud and extreme constraints on the participation of opposing parties. [38] Autocratic leaders employ tactics like murdering political opposition and paying election monitors to ensure victory. [35] [40] Despite this, the proportion of authoritarian regimes with elections and support parties has risen in recent years. [35] This is largely due to the increasing popularity of democracies and electoral autocracies, leading authoritarian regimes to imitate democratic regimes in hopes of receiving foreign aid and dodging criticism. [35] [41]

According to a 2018 study, most party-led dictatorships regularly hold popular elections. Prior to the 1990s, most of these elections had no alternative parties or candidates for voters to choose. Since the end of the Cold War, about two-thirds of elections in authoritarian systems allow for some opposition, but the elections are structured in a way to heavily favor the incumbent authoritarian regime. [42]

Hindrances to free and fair elections in authoritarian systems may include: [42]

Interactions with other elites and the masses

The foundations of stable authoritarian rule are that the authoritarian prevents contestation from the masses and other elites. The authoritarian regime may use co-optation or repression (or carrots and sticks) to prevent revolts. [43] [44] Authoritarian rule entails a balancing act whereby the ruler has to maintain the support of other elites (frequently through the distribution of state and societal resources) and the support of the public (through distribution of the same resources): the authoritarian rule is at risk if the balancing act is lopsided, as it risks a coup by the elites or an uprising by the mass public. [45] [46]

Manipulation of information

According to a 2019 study by Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman, authoritarian regimes have over time become less reliant on violence and mass repression to maintain control. The study shows instead that authoritarians have increasingly resorted to manipulation of information as a means of control. Authoritarians increasingly seek to create an appearance of good performance, conceal state repression, and imitate democracy. [47]

While authoritarian regimes invest considerably in propaganda out of a belief that it enhances regime survival, scholars have offered mixed views as to whether propaganda is effective. [48]

Systemic weakness and resilience

Andrew J. Nathan notes that "regime theory holds that authoritarian systems are inherently fragile because of weak legitimacy, overreliance on coercion, over-centralization of decision making, and the predominance of personal power over institutional norms. ... Few authoritarian regimes be they communist, fascist, corporatist, or personalist have managed to conduct orderly, peaceful, timely, and stable successions." [49]

Political scientist Theodore M. Vestal writes that authoritarian political systems may be weakened through inadequate responsiveness to either popular or elite demands and that the authoritarian tendency to respond to challenges by exerting tighter control, instead of by adapting, may compromise the legitimacy of an authoritarian state and lead to its collapse. [18]

One exception to this general trend is the endurance of the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party which has been unusually resilient among authoritarian regimes. Nathan posits that this can be attributed to four factors such as (1) "the increasingly norm-bound nature of its succession politics"; (2) "the increase in meritocratic as opposed to factional considerations in the promotion of political elites"; (3) "the differentiation and functional specialization of institutions within the regime"; and (4) "the establishment of institutions for political participation and appeal that strengthen the CCP's legitimacy among the public at large." [49]

Some scholars have challenged notions that authoritarian states are inherently brittle systems that require repression and propaganda to make people comply with the authoritarian regime. Adam Przeworski has challenged this, noting that while authoritarian regimes do take actions that serve to enhance regime survival, they also engage in mundane everyday governance and their subjects do not hold a posture towards the regime at all moments of their life. He writes, "People in autocracies do not incessantly live under the shadow of dramatic historical events; they lead everyday routine lives." [50] Similarly, Thomas Pepinsky has challenged the common mental image of an authoritarian state as one of grim totalitarianism, desperate hardship, strict censorship, and dictatorial orders of murder, torture and disappearances. He writes, "life in authoritarian states is mostly boring and tolerable." [51]


Yale University political scientist Milan Svolik argues that violence is a common characteristic of authoritarian systems. Violence tends to be common in authoritarian states because of a lack of independent third parties empowered to settle disputes between the dictator, regime allies, regime soldiers and the masses. [43]

Authoritarians may resort to measures referred to as coup-proofing (structures that make it hard for any small group to seize power). Coup-proofing strategies include strategically placing family, ethnic, and religious groups in the military; creating of an armed force parallel to the regular military; and developing multiple internal security agencies with overlapping jurisdiction that constantly monitor one another. [52] Research shows that some coup-proofing strategies reduce the risk of coups occurring [53] [54] and reduce the likelihood of mass protests. [55] However, coup-proofing reduces military effectiveness, [56] [57] [58] [59] and limits the rents that an incumbent can extract. [60] A 2016 study shows that the implementation of succession rules reduce the occurrence of coup attempts. [61] Succession rules are believed to hamper coordination efforts among coup plotters by assuaging elites who have more to gain by patience than by plotting. [61] According to political scientists Curtis Bell and Jonathan Powell, coup attempts in neighboring countries lead to greater coup-proofing and coup-related repression in a region. [62] A 2017 study finds that countries' coup-proofing strategies are heavily influenced by other countries with similar histories. [63] A 2018 study in the Journal of Peace Research found that leaders who survive coup attempts and respond by purging known and potential rivals are likely to have longer tenures as leaders. [64] A 2019 study in Conflict Management and Peace Science found that personalist dictatorships are more likely to take coup-proofing measures than other authoritarian regimes; the authors argue that this is because "personalists are characterized by weak institutions and narrow support bases, a lack of unifying ideologies and informal links to the ruler." [65]

According to a 2019 study, personalist dictatorships are more repressive than other forms of dictatorship. [66]


According to Yale professor Juan José Linz there a three main types of political regimes today: democracies, totalitarian regimes and, sitting between these two, authoritarian regimes (with hybrid regimes). [67] [68]

Similar terms


Several subtypes of authoritarian regimes have been identified by Linz and others. [76] Linz identified the two most basic subtypes as traditional authoritarian regimes and bureaucratic-military authoritarian regimes:

According to Barbara Geddes, there are seven typologies of authoritarian regimes: dominant party regimes, military regime, personalist regimes, monarchies, oligarchic regimes, indirect military regimes, or hybrids of the first three. [77]

Subtypes of authoritarian regimes identified by Linz are corporatist or organic-statistic, racial and ethnic "democracy" and post-totalitarian. [76]

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on 25 October 2019 18th Summit of Non-Aligned Movement gets underway in Baku 026.jpg
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on 25 October 2019

Authoritarian regimes are also sometimes subcategorized by whether they are personalistic or populist. [76] Personalistic authoritarian regimes are characterized by arbitrary rule and authority exercised "mainly through patronage networks and coercion rather than through institutions and formal rules." [76] Personalistic authoritarian regimes have been seen in post-colonial Africa. By contrast, populist authoritarian regimes "are mobilizational regimes in which a strong, charismatic, manipulative leader rules through a coalition involving key lower-class groups." [76] Examples include Argentina under Juan Perón, [76] Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser [76] and Venezuela under Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro. [84] [85]

A typology of authoritarian regimes by political scientists Brian Lai and Dan Slater includes four categories:

Lai and Slater argue that single‐party regimes are better than military regimes at developing institutions (e.g. mass mobilization, patronage networks and coordination of elites) that are effective at continuing the regime's incumbency and diminishing domestic challengers; Lai and Slater also argue that military regimes more often initiate military conflicts or undertake other "desperate measures" to maintain control as compared to single‐party regimes. [4] [3]

John Duckitt suggests a link between authoritarianism and collectivism, asserting that both stand in opposition to individualism. [86] Duckitt writes that both authoritarianism and collectivism submerge individual rights and goals to group goals, expectations and conformities. [87]

According to Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way, authoritarian regimes that are created in social revolutions are far more durable than other kinds of authoritarian regimes. [88]

Authoritarianism and democracy

Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 2022. Green countries are democratic, yellow are hybrid regimes, and red are authoritarian governments. Democracy Index 2022.svg
Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 2022. Green countries are democratic, yellow are hybrid regimes, and red are authoritarian governments.

Authoritarianism and democracy are not necessarily fundamental opposites and may be thought of as poles at opposite ends of a scale, so that it is possible for some democracies to possess authoritarian elements, and for an authoritarian system to have democratic elements. [90] [91] [92] Authoritarian regimes may also be partly responsive to citizen grievances, although this is generally only regarding grievances that do not undermine the stability of the regime. [93] [94] An illiberal democracy, or procedural democracy, is distinguished from liberal democracy, or substantive democracy, in that illiberal democracies lack features such as the rule of law, protections for minority groups, an independent judiciary and the real separation of powers. [95] [96] [97] [98]

A further distinction that liberal democracies have rarely made war with one another; research has extended the theory and finds that more democratic countries tend to have few wars (sometimes called militarized interstate disputes) causing fewer battle deaths with one another and that democracies have far fewer civil wars. [99] [100]

Research shows that the democratic nations have much less democide or murder by government. Those were also moderately developed nations before applying liberal democratic policies. [101] Research by the World Bank suggests that political institutions are extremely important in determining the prevalence of corruption and that parliamentary systems, political stability and freedom of the press are all associated with lower corruption. [102]

A 2006 study by economist Alberto Abadie has concluded that terrorism is most common in nations with intermediate political freedom. The nations with the least terrorism are the most and least democratic nations, and that "transitions from an authoritarian regime to a democracy may be accompanied by temporary increases in terrorism." [103] Studies in 2013 and 2017 similarly found a nonlinear relationship between political freedom and terrorism, with the most terrorist attacks occurring in partial democracies and the fewest in "strict autocracies and full-fledged democracies." [104] A 2018 study by Amichai Magen demonstrated that liberal democracies and polyarchies not only suffer fewer terrorist attacks as compared to other regime types, but also suffer fewer casualties in terrorist attacks as compared to other regime types, which may be attributed to higher-quality democracies' responsiveness to their citizens' demands, including "the desire for physical safety", resulting in "investment in intelligence, infrastructure protection, first responders, social resilience, and specialized medical care" which averts casualties. [104] Magen also stated that terrorism in closed autocracies sharply increased starting in 2013. [104]

Within national democratic governments, there may be subnational authoritarian enclaves. A prominent examples of this includes the Southern United States after Reconstruction, as well as areas of contemporary Argentina and Mexico. [105]

Competitive authoritarian regimes

Another type of authoritarian regime is the competitive authoritarian regime, a type of civilian regime that arose in the post-Cold War era. In a competitive authoritarian regime, "formal democratic institutions exist and are widely viewed as the primary means of gaining power, but ... incumbents' abuse of the state places them at a significant advantage vis-à-vis their opponents." [106] [107] The term was coined by Steven Levitsky and Lucan A. Way in their 2010 book of the same name to discuss a type of hybrid regime that emerged during and after the Cold War. [106] [108]

Competitive authoritarian regimes differ from fully authoritarian regimes in that elections are regularly held, the opposition can openly operate without a high risk of exile or imprisonment and "democratic procedures are sufficiently meaningful for opposition groups to take them seriously as arenas through which to contest for power." [106] Competitive authoritarian regimes lack one or more of the three characteristics of democracies such as free elections (i.e. elections untainted by substantial fraud or voter intimidation); protection of civil liberties (i.e. the freedom of speech, press and association) and an even playing field (in terms of access to resources, the media and legal recourse). [109]

Authoritarianism and fascism

Authoritarianism is considered a core concept of fascism [110] [111] [112] [113] and scholars agree that a fascist regime is foremost an authoritarian form of government, although not all authoritarian regimes are fascist. While authoritarianism is a defining characteristic of fascism, scholars argue that more distinguishing traits are needed to make an authoritarian regime fascist. [114] [115] [116] [117] [118] [119] [120] [121] [122]

Authoritarianism and totalitarianism

Benito Mussolini, the founder of Italian Fascism, called his regime the "Totalitarian State": "Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State." Mussolini biografia.jpg
Benito Mussolini, the founder of Italian Fascism, called his regime the "Totalitarian State": "Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State."

Totalitarianism is a label used by various political scientists to characterize the most tyrannical strain of authoritarian systems; in which the ruling elite, often subservient to a dictator, exert near-total control of the social, political, economic, cultural and religious aspects of society in the territories under its governance. [124]

Linz distinguished new forms of authoritarianism from personalistic dictatorships and totalitarian states, taking Francoist Spain as an example. Unlike personalistic dictatorships, new forms of authoritarianism have institutionalized representation of a variety of actors (in Spain's case, including the military, the Catholic Church, Falange, monarchists, technocrats and others). Unlike totalitarian states, the regime relies on passive mass acceptance rather than popular support. [71] According to Juan Linz the distinction between an authoritarian regime and a totalitarian one is that an authoritarian regime seeks to suffocate politics and political mobilization while totalitarianism seeks to control and utilize them. [67] Authoritarianism primarily differs from totalitarianism in that social and economic institutions exist that are not under governmental control. Building on the work of Yale political scientist Juan Linz, Paul C. Sondrol of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has examined the characteristics of authoritarian and totalitarian dictators and organized them in a chart: [70]

Charisma HighLow
Role conceptionLeader as functionLeader as individual
Ends of powerPublicPrivate
Corruption LowHigh
Official ideology YesNo
Limited pluralism NoYes

Sondrol argues that while both authoritarianism and totalitarianism are forms of autocracy, they differ in three key dichotomies:

(1) Unlike their bland and generally unpopular authoritarian brethren, totalitarian dictators develop a charismatic "mystique" and a mass-based, pseudo-democratic interdependence with their followers via the conscious manipulation of a prophetic image.

(2) Concomitant role conceptions differentiate totalitarians from authoritarians. Authoritarians view themselves as individual beings largely content to control and often maintain the status quo. Totalitarian self-conceptions are largely teleological. The tyrant is less a person than an indispensable function to guide and reshape the universe.

(3) Consequently, the utilisation of power for personal aggrandizement is more evident among authoritarians than totalitarians. Lacking the binding appeal of ideology, authoritarians support their rule by a mixture of instilling fear and granting rewards to loyal collaborators, engendering a kleptocracy. [70]

Kim Il-Sung, founder of North Korea, established an authoritarian regime which was modeled after other totalitarian countries. Kim Il-sung in 1950.jpg
Kim Il-Sung, founder of North Korea, established an authoritarian regime which was modeled after other totalitarian countries.

Compared to totalitarianism, "the authoritarian state still maintains a certain distinction between state and society. It is only concerned with political power and as long as that is not contested it gives society a certain degree of liberty. Totalitarianism, on the other hand, invades private life and asphyxiates it." [126] Another distinction is that "authoritarianism is not animated by utopian ideals in the way totalitarianism is. It does not attempt to change the world and human nature." [126] Carl Joachim Friedrich writes that "a totalist ideology, a party reinforced by a secret police, and monopoly control of ... industrial mass society" are the three features of totalitarian regimes that distinguish them from other autocracies. [126]

Greg Yudin, a professor of political philosophy at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, argues "political passivity and civic disengagement" are "key features" of authoritarianism, while totalitarianism relies on "mass mobilization, terror and homogeneity of beliefs". [127]

Economic effects

The effects of political regime types on economic growth have been debated by scholars. A 1993 assessment of existing scholarship led Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi to conclude, "we do not know whether democracy fosters or hinders economic growth." [128] In 2010, Dani Rodrik wrote that democracies outperform autocracies in terms of long-term economic growth, economic stability, adjustments to external economic shocks, human capital investment, and economic equality. [129] A 2019 study by Daron Acemoglu, Suresh Naidu, Pascual Restrepo, and James A. Robinson found that democracy increases GDP per capita by about 20 percent over the long-term. [130] According to Amartya Sen, no functioning liberal democracy has ever suffered a large-scale famine. [131]

Scholars have identified that autocracies may have an advantage when it comes to rapid industrialization. [132] Seymour Martin Lipset argued that low-income authoritarian regimes have certain technocratic "efficiency-enhancing advantages" over low-income democracies that gives authoritarian regimes an advantage in economic development. [133] By contrast, Morton H. Halperin, Joseph T. Siegle and Michael M. Weinstein (2005) argue that democracies "realize superior development performance" over authoritarianism, pointing out that poor democracies are more likely to have steadier economic growth and less likely to experience economic and humanitarian catastrophes (such as refugee crises) than authoritarian regimes; that civil liberties in democracies act as a curb on corruption and misuse of resources; and that democracies are more adaptable than authoritarian regimes. [133]

Studies suggest that several health indicators (life expectancy and infant and maternal mortality) have a stronger and more significant association with democracy than they have with GDP per capita, size of the public sector or income inequality. [134]

Post-World War II anti-authoritarianism

Both World War II (ending in 1945) and the Cold War (ending in 1991) resulted in the replacement of authoritarian regimes by either democratic regimes or regimes that were less authoritarian.

World War II saw the defeat of the Axis powers by the Allied powers. All the Axis powers (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan) had totalitarian or authoritarian governments, and two of the three were replaced by governments based on democratic constitutions. The Allied powers were an alliance of Democratic states and (later) the Communist Soviet Union. At least in Western Europe the initial post-war era embraced pluralism and freedom of expression in areas that had been under control of authoritarian regimes. The memory of fascism and Nazism was denigrated. The new Federal Republic of Germany banned its expression. In reaction to the centralism of the Nazi state, the new constitution of West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) exercised "separation of powers" and placed "law enforcement firmly in the hands" of the sixteen Länder or states of the republic, not with the federal German government, at least not at first. [135]

Culturally there was also a strong sense of anti-authoritarianism based on anti-fascism in Western Europe. This was attributed to the active resistance from occupation and to fears arising from the development of superpowers. [136] Anti-authoritarianism also became associated with countercultural and bohemian movements such as the Beat Generation in the 1950s, [137] the hippies in the 1960s [138] and punks in the 1970s. [139]

In South America, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay moved away from dictatorships to democracy between 1982 and 1990. [140]

With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the Soviet Union in 1991, the other authoritarian/totalitarian "half" of the Allied Powers of World War II collapsed. This led not so much to revolt against authority in general, but to the belief that authoritarian states (and state control of economies) were outdated. [141] The idea that "liberal democracy was the final form toward which all political striving was directed" [142] became very popular in Western countries and was celebrated in Francis Fukuyama's book The End of History and the Last Man . [142] According to Charles H. Fairbanks Jr., "all the new states that stumbled out of the ruins of the Soviet bloc, except Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, seemed indeed to be moving towards democracy in the early 1990s" as were the countries of East Central Europe and the Balkans. [143]

In December 2010, the Arab Spring arose in response to unrest over economic stagnation but also in opposition to oppressive authoritarian regimes, first in Tunisia, and spreading to Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and elsewhere. Regimes were toppled in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and partially in Yemen while other countries saw riots, civil wars or insurgencies. Most Arab Spring revolutions failed to lead to enduring democratization. In the decade following the Arab Spring, of the countries in which an autocracy was toppled in the Arab spring, only Tunisia had become a genuine democracy; Egypt backslid to return to a military-run authoritarian state, while Libya, Syria and Yemen experienced devastating civil wars. [144] [145]

2000s authoritarian revival

Since 2005, observers noted what some have called a "democratic recession", [142] [146] although some such as Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way have disputed that there was a significant democratic decline before 2013. [146] In 2018, the Freedom House declared that from 2006 to 2018 "113 countries" around the world showed "a net decline" in "political rights and civil liberties" while "only 62" experienced "a net improvement." [147] Its 2020 report marked the fourteenth consecutive year of declining scores. [148] By 2020, all countries marked as "not free" by Freedom House had also developed practices of transnational authoritarianism, aiming to police and control dissent beyond state borders. [149]

International trends in
countries becoming
more democratic
countries becoming
more authoritarian
late 1990s723
source: V-Dem [150] [151]

Writing in 2018, American political journalist David Frum stated: "The hopeful world of the very late 20th century the world of NAFTA and an expanding NATO; of the World Wide Web 1.0 and liberal interventionism; of the global spread of democracy under leaders such as Václav Havel and Nelson Mandela  now looks battered and delusive." [152]

Michael Ignatieff wrote that Fukuyama's idea of liberalism vanquishing authoritarianism "now looks like a quaint artifact of a vanished unipolar moment" [142] and Fukuyama himself expressed concern. [141] By 2018, only one Arab Spring uprising (that in Tunisia) resulted in a transition to constitutional democratic governance [153] and a "resurgence of authoritarianism and Islamic extremism" in the region [154] was dubbed the Arab Winter. [155] [156] [157] [158] [159]

Various explanations have been offered for the new spread of authoritarianism. They include the downside of globalization, and the subsequent rise of populist neo-nationalism, [160] and the success of the Beijing Consensus, i.e. the authoritarian model of the People's Republic of China. [161] In countries such as the United States, factors blamed for the growth of authoritarianism include the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and slower real wage growth [162] as well as social media's elimination of so-called "gatekeepers" of knowledge – the equivalent of disintermediation in economics – so that a large fraction of the population considers to be opinion what were once "viewed as verifiable facts" – including everything from the danger of global warming to the preventing the spread of disease through vaccination – and considers to be fact what are actually only unproven fringe opinions. [163]

In United States politics, the terms "extreme right", "far-right", and "ultra-right" are labels used to describe "militant forms of insurgent revolutionary right ideology and separatist ethnocentric nationalism", [164] such as Christian Identity, [164] the Creativity Movement, [164] the Ku Klux Klan, [164] the National Socialist Movement, [164] [165] [166] the National Alliance, [164] the Joy of Satan Ministries, [165] [166] and the Order of Nine Angles. [167] These far-right groups share conspiracist views of power which are overwhelmingly anti-Semitic and reject pluralist democracy in favor of an organic oligarchy that would unite the perceived homogeneously racial Völkish nation. [164] [167] The far-right in the United States is composed of various Neo-fascist, Neo-Nazi, White nationalist, and White supremacist organizations and networks who have been known to refer to an "acceleration" of racial conflict through violent means such as assassinations, murders, terrorist attacks, and societal collapse, in order to achieve the building of a White ethnostate. [167]


There is no one consensus definition of authoritarianism, but several annual measurements are attempted, including Freedom House's annual Freedom in the World report. Some countries such as Venezuela, among others, that are currently or historically recognized as authoritarian did not become authoritarian upon taking power or fluctuated between an authoritarian, flawed, and Hybrid regime due to periods of democratic backsliding and/or democratization. The time period reflects their time in power rather than the years they were authoritarian regimes. Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia are often regarded as the most infamous examples of totalitarian systems. Some countries such as China and various fascist regimes have also been characterized as totalitarian, with some periods being depicted as more authoritarian, or totalitarian, than others. Contemporary examples of totalitarian states include the Syrian Arab Republic and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. [168]


The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of states currently characterized as authoritarian[ according to whom? ]. Some countries listed may also be currently listed as a "Hybrid regime" by The Economist Democracy Index, or partly free by Freedom House's Freedom in the World index or reach an intermediate score at V-Dem Democracy Indices.

StateTime periodRuling group or personNotes and references
Flag of the Taliban.svg  Afghanistan 1996–2001; 2021– Taliban Totalitarian theocratic state. [169]
Flag of Angola.svg  Angola 1975– MPLA [170]
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan 1993–Aliyev family [171] [172] [173] [174] [175]
Flag of Bahrain.svg  Bahrain 1783– House of Khalifa [176]
Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh 2009- Awami League under Sheikh Hasina [177]
Flag of Belarus.svg  Belarus 1994– Alexander Lukashenko [178] [179] [180] [181] [182]
Flag of Burundi.svg Burundi 2005– CNDD–FDD [183]
Flag of Cambodia.svg  Cambodia 1979– Cambodian People's Party [184] [185]
Flag of Cameroon.svg  Cameroon 1982– Paul Biya [186] [187]
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  People's Republic of China 1949– Chinese Communist Party Some scholars have deemed the Chinese system "a fragmented authoritarianism" (Lieberthal), "a negotiated state", or "a consultative authoritarian regime." [188] According to research by John Kennedy et al. (2018), Chinese citizens with higher education tend to participate less in local elections and have lower levels of democratic values when compared to those with only compulsory education. [189]
Flag of the Republic of the Congo.svg  Republic of the Congo 1969–1992; 1997– Congolese Party of Labour [190]
Flag of Cuba.svg  Cuba 1959– Communist Party of Cuba [191]
Flag of Djibouti.svg  Djibouti 1977– People's Rally for Progress [192] [193]
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt 2014– Abdel Fattah el-Sisi [194]
Flag of El Salvador.svg  El Salvador 2019– Nayib Bukele [195] [196]
Flag of Equatorial Guinea.svg  Equatorial Guinea 1979– Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo [197]
Flag of Eritrea.svg  Eritrea 1993– [lower-alpha 1] Isaias Afwerki Eritrea is considered a totalitarian dictatorship. [198]
Flag of Eswatini.svg  Eswatini 1968– House of Dlamini [199]
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia 2018– Abiy Ahmed Abiy Ahmed and his party considered "authoritarian" by some activists and dissents. [200] He is considered by some a "charming dictator". [201] [202]
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary 2010– Fidesz [203] [204]
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran 1979– Assembly of Experts After the Iranian Revolution, Iran became an authoritarian clerical state (nominally an "Islamic republic") based on the absolute authority of the unelected Supreme Leader of Iran, based on the Shia concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist. [205] [206] In 2000, Juan José Linz wrote that "it is difficult to fit the Iranian regime into the existing typology, as it combines the ideological bent of totalitarianism with the limited pluralism of authoritarianism and holds regular elections in which candidates advocating differing policies and incumbents are often defeated." [207]
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel 1996–1999;
Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud [208] [209] [210] [211]
Flag of Jordan.svg  Jordan 1946– Hashemites [212]
Flag of Laos.svg  Laos 1975– Lao People's Revolutionary Party [213]
Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco 1957– Alaouite dynasty [212] [214] [215]
Flag of Mozambique.svg  Mozambique 1975– FRELIMO [216]
Flag of Myanmar.svg  Myanmar 1962– Tatmadaw The Tatmadaw allowed a democratically elected administration to exercise some power from 2016 to 2021, without allowing civilian control of the military. [217]
Flag of Nicaragua.svg  Nicaragua 1979–1990; 2007– Daniel Ortega [218] [219]
Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea 1949– Workers' Party of Korea under Kim Dynasty Some scholars consider North Korea to be the most totalitarian country. [220] [221]
Flag of Oman.svg  Oman 1970– House of Al Said [222]
Flag of Palestine.svg  Palestine 1964– Palestine Liberation Organization [223]
Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar 1971– House of Thani [224]
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 1991– Boris Yeltsin, United Russia under Vladimir Putin [225] [226] [227] [228] [229] [230]
Flag of Rwanda.svg  Rwanda 2000– Paul Kagame [231]
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia 1934– House of Saud [232]
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore 1965– People's Action Party Dominant-party system [233] [234]
Flag of South Sudan.svg  South Sudan 2011– Sudan People's Liberation Movement under Salva Kiir Mayardit [235]
Flag of the Republika Srpska.svg  Republika Srpska
(part of Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina)
2006– Milorad Dodik [236] [237] [238]
Flag of Syria.svg  Syria 1963– Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Syria Region under al-Assad family Totalitarian police state [239] [240] [241] under a hereditary dictatorship
Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan 2021– Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Failed state in a power vacuum [242]
Flag of Tajikistan.svg  Tajikistan 1994– Emomali Rahmon [243]
Flag of Togo.svg  Togo 1967–Eyadema Family [244]
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 2003– Justice and Development Party under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan It has been described by observers as a "competitive authoritarian regime." [245]
Flag of Turkmenistan.svg  Turkmenistan 2006– Berdimuhamedow Family Effectively a totalitarian hereditary dictatorship. [246] [247]
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates 1971– Royal families of the United Arab Emirates [248] [249]
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda 1986– Yoweri Museveni [250]
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg  Uzbekistan 1989– Uzbekistan Liberal Democratic Party [251] [252] [253]
Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela 1999– United Socialist Party of Venezuela [254]
Flag of Vietnam.svg  Vietnam 1976– Vietnamese Communist Party [255]
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe 1980– ZANU-PF [256] [257]


The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of states which were historically authoritarian.

StateTime periodRuling group or personNotes and references
Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria 1999–2019 Abdelaziz Bouteflika [258]
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 1946–1955 Justicialist Party under Juan Perón See also Peronism. [259] [260]
1966–1973 Military government See also the Argentine Revolution. [259] [260]
1973–1976Justicialist Party under Juan and Isabel Perón [259] [260]
1976–1983 Jorge Rafael Videla See also the National Reorganization Process. [259] [260]
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 1933–1938 Christian Social Party under Engelbert Dollfuß and Fatherland Front under Kurt Schuschnigg See also the Federal State of Austria and Ständestaat.
Flag of Brazil (1889-1960).svg Brazil 1937–1945 Getúlio Vargas See also the Vargas Era. [261]
1964–1985 Military dictatorship in Brazil Started with the 1964 Brazilian coup d'état. [261]
Flag of Myanmar (1974-2010).svg Burma 1962–2011Military government and the Burma Socialist Programme Party Started with the 1962 Burmese coup d'état and ended with the 2011–2012 Burmese political reforms. [262]
Flag of Burundi.svg  Burundi 1961–1993 UPRONA
Flag of the Confederate States of America (1865).svg  Confederate States of America 1861–1865 Jefferson Davis Herrenvolk republic with a "democracy of the white race". [263] [264]
Flag of Chad.svg  Chad 1982–1990 Hissène Habré Habré was deposed by Idriss Déby, he was tried in Senegal for crimes against his country and died in prison months after the man who removed him from power died in combat.
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile 1973–1990 Government Junta under Augusto Pinochet Started with the 1973 Chilean coup d'état. [265]
Flag of the Republic of China.svg Republic of China 1927–1949 Kuomintang and Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-shek The Republic of China on Taiwan is listed further below.
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  Democratic Republic of the Congo 1997–2019 Laurent-Désiré Kabila and Joseph Kabila Zaire is listed further below. [266]
Flag of Croatia (1941-1945).svgFlag of Croatia.svg  Croatia 1941–1945 Ustaše under Ante Pavelić See also Independent State of Croatia
1990–1999 Croatian Democratic Union under Franjo Tuđman [267] [268]
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czechoslovakia 1938–1939 Party of National Unity
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt 1952–2011 Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak [269]
Flag of Equatorial Guinea.svg  Equatorial Guinea 1968–1979 Francisco Macias Nguema
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia 1974–1991 Mengistu Haile Mariam and the Workers' Party of Ethiopia [270]
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia 1991–2019 Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front [271]
Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji 2006–2022 FijiFirst [lower-alpha 2] [272] [273] [274] [275]
Flag of France.svg  France 1793–1794 Committee of Public Safety, a provisional government during the Reign of Terror under Maximilien Robespierre.See also the French Revolution.
Flag of Gabon.svg  Gabon 1961–2023 Gabonese Democratic Party Ali Bongo is overthrown in a military coup.
Flag of The Gambia.svg  Gambia 1994–2017 Yahya Jammeh Jammeh is overthrown by democratic elections and is forced to resign.
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany 1933–1945 National Socialist German Workers' Party See also Nazism.
Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea 1958–2021 Ahmed Sekou Touré, Lansana Conté, Moussa Dadis Camara and Alpha Condé Guinea was marked by a series of authoritarian generations.
Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg  Guinea-Bissau 1980–1999 Joao Bernardo Vieira Nino Vieira would govern in an authoritarian manner in the 80s and 90s until his overthrow, in 2005 he returned to the presidency until his assassination.
Flag of Hungary (1915-1918, 1919-1946).svg  Hungary 1920–1944 Miklós Horthy and the Unity Party [276]
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia 1959–1998 Sukarno and Suharto See also the Guided Democracy era and the New Order.
State Flag of Iran (1925).svg  Iran 1925–1979 Pahlavi dynasty [277]
Flag of Iraq (1991-2004).svg Iraq 1968–2003 Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region under Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr and Saddam Hussein
Flag of Japan (1870-1999).svg Empire of Japan 1931-1945 Hirohito and the Imperial Rule Assistance Association
Flag of Liberia.svg  Liberia 1886–1980 True Whig Party Party that ruled Liberia for more than 100 years and the monopoly was overthrown by the 1980 Liberian coup.
1980–1990 Samuel Doe The Liberian president ends up captured and executed for a long time in the middle of a Civil war.
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg Fascist Italy 1922–1943 National Fascist Party [278]
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan 1990–2022 Amanat Formelly named Nur Otan. The incumbent president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev renounced his party membership, establishing in the amendments of the second republic that no president should have affiliation with any party. [186]
Flag of Libya (1977-2011).svg Libya 1969–2011 Muammar Gaddafi Started with the 1969 Libyan coup d'état and ended with the 2011 Libyan Civil War. [279]
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania 1926–1940 Antanas Smetona Ended in the Soviet occupation. [280]
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  Macedonia 2006–2016 Nikola Gruevski [281] [282]
Flag of Mali.svg  Mali 1968–1991 Moussa Traoré Moussa is deposed in the 1991 Malian coup d'état and sentenced to death twice, exonerated in May 2002.
Red Ensign of England (Square Canton).svg Massachusetts Bay Colony 1630–1691 John Winthrop [283] [284]
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 17 May–4 June 1833 Santa Anna
18 June–5 July 1833
27 October–December 1833
20 March–10 July 1839
14 May–6 September 1843
4 June–12 September 1844
21 March–2 April 1847
20 May–15 September 1847
1876–1911 Porfirio Díaz, Juan Méndez, and Manuel Flores.See also Porfiriato.
1929–2000 PRI Mexico was very authoritarian when PRI was the ruling party in Mexico but in 2000 after about 70 years of ruling they lost the 2000 Mexican presidential election. They eventually came back to power in 2012 by winning the Mexican presidential election but eventually lost power in the 2018 Mexican presidential election as their candidate finished 3rd. See also Tlatelolco massacre and the rigged 1988 Mexican presidential election.
Flag of the Ottoman Empire (1844-1922).svg Ottoman Empire 1878–1908 Abdul Hamid II
1913–1918The Three Pashas
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro 1990–2023 Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro, under Milo Đukanović [285] [286] [287] [288] [289]
Flag of Nicaragua.svg  Nicaragua 1936–1979 Somoza Family The Somoza clan loses power in the Sandinista revolution.
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines 1965–1986 Ferdinand Marcos Ended with the People Power Revolution.
2016–2022 Rodrigo Duterte [290] [291]
Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg  Poland 1926–1939 Sanation See also the May Coup.
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 1926–1933Military governmentSee also the National Dictatorship.
1933–1974 Estado Novo regime under António de Oliveira Salazar and Marcelo Caetano Ended with the Carnation Revolution. [292]
Flag of Russia.svg  Russian State 1918–1920 White movement under Alexander Kolchak
Flag of Rwanda (1962-2001).svg  Rwanda 1961–1994 Gregoire Kayibanda and Juvenal Habyarimana
Flag of Somalia.svg  Somalia 1969–1991 Siad Barre
Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg South Africa 1948–1994 National Party Ended with the end of apartheid. [293] [294]
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea 1948–1960 Syngman Rhee [295] [296]
1961–1987 Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan
Flag of Spain (1945 - 1977).svg Francoist Spain 1936–1978 Francisco Franco and Juan Carlos I of Spain Until the Spanish transition to democracy. [297]
Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan 1969–2019 Jaafar Nimeiry and Omar al-Bashir Ousted in 2019 Sudanese coup d'état. [186]
Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Taiwan 1945–1987 Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo The Republic of China (1927–1949) is listed further above. [298]
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand 1932–1933 People's Party under Phraya Phahon and Plaek Phibunsongkhram On 1 April 1933 Prime Minister Phraya Manopakorn Nitithada staged a coup by decree, closing parliament, abstaining from using certain sections of the Constitution, and exiling Pridi Banomyong temporarily left the country, which left the People's Party powerless for a period. Until 20 June 1933 there was a coup d'état by the People's Party. Thus causing the People's Party to return to power once again.
1948–1957Plaek PhibunsongkhramEnded with the 1957 Thai coup d'état.
1958–1973 Sarit Thanarat and Thanom Kittikachorn Ended with the 1973 Thai popular uprising.
2014–2023 Prayut Chan-o-cha [299]
Flag of Tunisia.svg  Tunisia 1987–2011 Zine El Abidine Ben Ali See also Tunisian Revolution.
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 1923–1950 Republican People's Party [300] [301]
Flag of Turkmenistan.svg  Turkmenistan 1991–2006 Democratic Party of Turkmenistan under Saparmurat Niyazov Effectively a totalitarian dictatorship. [246] [247]
Flag of the Soviet Union.svg  Soviet Union 1922–1991 Communist Party of the Soviet Union See also authoritarian socialism.
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine 1992–2005 Leonid Kuchma Ended in the Orange Revolution [ according to whom? ].
2010–2014 Party of Regions under Viktor Yanukovych Ended in the Revolution of Dignity [ according to whom? ].
Flag of the Ukrainian State.svg  Ukrainian State 1918 Pavlo Skoropadskyi Started with the 1918 Ukrainian coup d'état and ended with the Anti-Hetman Uprising.
Flag of Yugoslavia (1918-1943).svg Flag of Yugoslavia (1946-1992).svg Yugoslavia 1929–1934 Alexander I and the JRSD See also the 6 January Dictatorship.
1934–1941 Milan Stojadinović and the JRZ
1944–1990 League of Communists of Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito (–1980)See also the death and state funeral of Josip Broz Tito. [302] [303]
Flag of Serbia and Montenegro (1992-2006).svg Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1992–2000 Socialist Party of Serbia under Slobodan Milošević See also the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević. [304] [305]
Flag of Zaire (1971-1997).svg  Zaire 1965–1997 Mobutu Sese Seko The Democratic Republic of the Congo after 1997 is listed above. [266]

See also


  1. Eritrea gained de facto independence in 1991; de jure independence was achieved in 1993.
  2. While FijiFirst's leader, Frank Bainimarama, still forms government in Fiji, democratic elections were held again in 2014 after eight years without elections following the 2006 Fijian coup d'état.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dictatorship</span> Form of government

A dictatorship is an autocratic form of government which is characterized by a leader, or a group of leaders, who hold governmental powers with few to no limitations. Politics in a dictatorship are controlled by a dictator, and they are facilitated through an inner circle of elites that includes advisers, generals, and other high-ranking officials. The dictator maintains control by influencing and appeasing the inner circle and repressing any opposition, which may include rival political parties, armed resistance, or disloyal members of the dictator's inner circle. Dictatorships can be formed by a military coup that overthrows the previous government through force or they can be formed by a self-coup in which elected leaders make their rule permanent. Dictatorships are authoritarian or totalitarian, and they can be classified as military dictatorships, one-party dictatorships, personalist dictatorships, or absolute monarchies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Government</span> System or group of people governing an organized community, often a state

A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Totalitarianism</span> Extreme form of authoritarianism

Totalitarianism is a form of government and a political system that prohibits all opposition parties, outlaws individual and group opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high if not complete degree of control and regulation over public and private life. It is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of authoritarianism. In totalitarian states, political power is often held by autocrats, such as dictators, who employ all-encompassing campaigns in which propaganda is broadcast by state-controlled mass media in order to control the citizenry.

Autocracy is a system of government in which absolute power is held by the ruler, known as an autocrat. It includes most forms of monarchy and dictatorship, while it is contrasted with democracy and feudalism. Various definitions of autocracy exist. They may restrict autocracy to a single individual, or they may also apply autocracy to a group of rulers who wield absolute power. The autocrat has total control over the exercise of civil liberties within the autocracy, choosing under what circumstances they may be exercised, if at all. Governments may also blend elements of autocracy and democracy, forming an anocracy. The concept of autocracy has been recognized in political philosophy since ancient times.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">One-party state</span> State in which only one party has the right to form the government

A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a governance structure in which only a single political party controls the ruling system. All other parties are either outlawed or only enjoy limited and controlled participation in elections. Sometimes the term "de facto one-party state" is used to describe a dominant-party system that, unlike the one-party state, allows democratic multiparty elections, but the existing practices or balance of political power effectively prevent the opposition from winning power.

In politics, a regime is the form of government or the set of rules, cultural or social norms, etc., that regulate the operation of a government or institution and its interactions with society. The two broad categories of regimes that appear in most literature are democratic and autocratic. However, autocratic regimes can be broken down into a subset of many different types. The key similarity between all regimes are the presence of rulers, and either formal or informal institutions.

In political science, a political system means the type of political organization that can be recognized, observed or otherwise declared by a state.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Democratization</span> Society becoming more democratic

Democratization, or democratisation, is the structural government transition from an authoritarian government to a more democratic political regime, including substantive political changes moving in a democratic direction.

The term "illiberal democracy" describes a governing system that hides its "nondemocratic practices behind formally democratic institutions and procedures". There is a lack of consensus among experts about the exact definition of illiberal democracy or whether it even exists.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liberal democracy</span> Political philosophy and form of government

Liberal democracy, Western-style democracy, or Substantive democracy is a form of government that combines the organization of a representative democracy with ideas of liberal political philosophy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Democratic transition</span> Specific phase in a political system

A democratic transition describes a phase in a countries political system as a result of an ongoing change from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one. The process is known as democratisation, political changes moving in a democratic direction. Democratization waves have been linked to sudden shifts in the distribution of power among the great powers, which created openings and incentives to introduce sweeping domestic reforms. Although transitional regimes experience more civil unrest, they may be considered stable in a transitional phase for decades at a time. Since the end of the Cold War transitional regimes have become the most common form of government. Scholarly analysis of the decorative nature of democratic institutions concludes that the opposite democratic backsliding (autocratization), a transition to authoritarianism is the most prevalent basis of modern hybrid regimes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coup d'état</span> Deposition of a government

A coup d'état, or simply a coup, is typically an illegal and overt attempt by a military organization or other government elites to unseat an incumbent leadership. A self-coup is when a leader, having come to power through legal means, tries to stay in power through illegal means.

Feudal fascism, also revolutionary-feudal totalitarianism, were official terms used by the post-Mao Zedong Chinese Communist Party to designate the ideology and rule of Lin Biao and the Gang of Four during the Cultural Revolution. In 1979, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Ye Jianying, described Mao Zedong's reign as a “feudal-fascist dictatorship” due to his revolutionary terror-based cult of personality, nationalism and authoritarianism despite superficially socialist policies.

Anocracy, or semi-democracy, is a form of government that is loosely defined as part democracy and part dictatorship, or as a "regime that mixes democratic with autocratic features". Another definition classifies anocracy as "a regime that permits some means of participation through opposition group behavior but that has incomplete development of mechanisms to redress grievances." The term "semi-democratic" is reserved for stable regimes that combine democratic and authoritarian elements. Scholars distinguish anocracies from autocracies and democracies in their capability to maintain authority, political dynamics, and policy agendas. Similarly, the regimes have democratic institutions that allow for nominal amounts of competition. Such regimes are particularly susceptible to outbreaks of armed conflict and unexpected or adverse changes in leadership.

A hybrid regime is a type of political system often created as a result of an incomplete democratic transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one. Hybrid regimes are categorized as having a combination of autocratic features with democratic ones and can simultaneously hold political repressions and regular elections. Hybrid regimes are commonly found in developing countries with abundant natural resources such as petro-states. Although these regimes experience civil unrest, they may be relatively stable and tenacious for decades at a time. There has been a rise in hybrid regimes since the end of the Cold War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Democratic backsliding</span> A country becoming less democratic

Democratic backsliding is a process of regime change towards autocracy that makes the exercise of political power by the public more arbitrary and repressive. This process typically restricts the space for public contestation and political participation in the process of government selection. Democratic decline involves the weakening of democratic institutions, such as the peaceful transition of power or free and fair elections, or the violation of individual rights that underpin democracies, especially freedom of expression. Democratic backsliding is the opposite of democratization.

Authoritarian capitalism, or illiberal capitalism, is an economic system in which a capitalist market economy exists alongside an authoritarian government. Related to and overlapping with state capitalism, a system in which the state undertakes commercial activity, authoritarian capitalism combines private property and the functioning of market forces with repression of dissent, restrictions on freedom of speech and either a lack of elections or an electoral system with a single dominant political party.

Electoral autocracy is a hybrid regime, in which democratic institutions are imitative and adhere to authoritarian methods. In these regimes, regular elections are held, but they are accused of failing to reach democratic standards of freedom and fairness.



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