What is a Dictatorship?
A dictatorship is a type of government in which a single person or party has absolute power. This means that the ruler or party has complete control, and the rights of the people are suppressed.
The dictatorships leaders are known as dictators and are usually backed by powerful groups of people. Typically, dictators are put into power when a nation faces significant social issues, such as high unemployment rates or unrest among the nation's people.
The financial backing of powerful groups isn't all that's needed. In order for a dictatorship to form, all opponents of the dictator ultimately need to be removed. This can be through any means necessary, including being imprisoned or even killed.
There are many adverse effects of a dictatorship. That includes the unraveling of social organizations and democratic institutions, the prohibition of other political parties, and the replacement of the nation's constitution. Under a dictatorship, many people are persecuted for reasons, including their religion or their economic status. Some dictatorships may have secret police, indefinite arrests, and concentration camps. Dictatorships have shallow levels of freedom.
The Five Kinds of Dictatorships
The specific details of a dictatorship come down to the individual rulers. Some dictators are far more strict and overbearing than others, and the type of dictatorship a country is ruled by comes down to the dictator's personality and behavior.
There are five kinds of dictatorships in total, including:
- Hybrid dictatorships
- Military dictatorships
- Personalist dictatorships
- Single party dictatorships
What Life is Like in a Country Ruled by a Dictatorship
Dictatorships are run by one person who holds all of the country's power. Known as dictators, the leaders of dictatorships often have a team of officials who make up the government of the dictatorship. Still, these officials do not have much of a say in the final outcome of anything.
On a similar note, the country's citizens with a dictatorship do not have much of a voice, either. The entire premise of a dictatorship is that one person is calling all of the shots for a whole country, reflecting an obvious imbalance of power.
From the outside looking in, life within a dictatorship is akin to being in a toxic relationship or living situation. However, this is not how everyone views the inner workings of a dictatorship. For some people, like the citizens of North Korea, this system of government is all the citizens know.
They have never experienced anything else, so living under a dictatorship is not jarring or shocking to them. Dictatorships only seem extreme and unethical to people who have not lived through them because it takes an outside perspective.
The Countries with Dictatorships in the Modern World
As of 2018, there are currently fifty nations with a dictator or authoritarian regime ruling the country to this day. Europe is home to one dictatorship, while three can be found in Latin America and South America. There are eight dictatorships in Asia, seven in the Eurasian region of the world, and twelve spanning from Africa's northern parts to the Middle East.
Africa has several long-standing dictators; however, they are beginning to lose power across the continent. In the last four years alone, 26 African countries have had transfers of power. Most recently, in April, Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Sudan's Omar Hassan al-Bashir were forced to step down. Unfortunately, democracy is still shaky in these countries, and the possibility of another dictator rising to power is likely.
There are currently 17 dictators in Africa, some worse than others. Some have been in power for decades, such as President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial New Guinea. President Obiang has been in power for 40 years after ousting his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, and sentencing him to death by firing squad. His wealth is estimated to be approximately $600 million. This is thanks to an oil boom that enriched his family at the expense of the Equatorial Guinea citizens. Obiang's regime is known for unlawful killings, torture of prisoners, government-sanctioned kidnappings, and even accusations of cannibalism.
Dictators Around the World
The leaders of dictatorships are not outwardly identified as dictators when other people are addressing them. Interestingly enough, you might not recognize a dictator based on their title because many of them are called presidents, kings, prime ministers, and many other titles. Here are the names and titles of the fifty dictators around the world.
- President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai of Afghanistan
- President Abdelkader Bensalah of Algeria
- President Joao Lourenco of Angola
- President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan
- King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain
- Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh
- President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus
- Sultan Haji Waddaulah of Brunei
- President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi
- Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia
- President Paul Biya of Cameroon
- President Faustin Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic
- President Idriss Deby of Chad
- President Xi Jinping of China
- President Felix Tshisekedi of the Republic of Congo
- President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Congo
- President Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba
- President Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea
- President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea
- President Albert-Bernard Bongo of Gabon
- President Hassan Rouhani of Iran
- President Barham Salih of Iraq
- President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan
- President Bounnhang Vorachith of Laos
- President Nouri Abusahmain of Libya
- President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani of Mauritania
- President Daniel Ortego of Nicaragua
- President Kim Jong-un of North Korea
- Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said of Oman
- Emir Tamin Al Thani of Qatar
- President Vladimir Putin of Russia
- President Paul Kagame of Rwanda
- King Abdullah Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia
- President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed of Somalia
- President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan
- President Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan of Sudan
- King Mswati III of Eswatini
- President Bashar al-Assad of Syria
- President Emomalii Rahmon of Tajikistan
- Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand
- Chairman Losang Jamcan of Tibet
- Prime Minister Recep Erdogan of Turkey
- President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow of Turkmenistan
- President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda
- King Sheikh Khalifa Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates
- President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan
- President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela
- President Nguyen Phu Trong of Vietnam
- President Brahim Ghali of Western Sahara
- President Abd Al-Hadi of Yemen
Is China a dictatorship? Yes, China is a dictatorship in the form of what the Constitution of the People's Republic of China calls a "people's democratic dictatorship." The premise of the "people's democratic dictatorship" is that the Chinese Party of China and the state represent and act on behalf of the people, but possess and may use powers against reactionary forces. The People's Republic of China is currently ruled by President Xi Jinping, who also serves as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, the country's Vice President, the President of the Central Party School, and the 1st ranked member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee.
Is Russia a dictatorship? Russia is a federal semi-presidential republic and an oligarchy. President Vladimir Putin is currently serving his fourth term as President of Russia. Whether or not Putin is a dictator has mixed answers. Those who believe that he is a dictator argue that he removed freedom of speech; the press can only publish what he allows them to; imprisons his opponents, and he has structured the government so that it keeps him at the top and gives him the most power. In addition to executive power, Putin also holds judicial and legislative power, allowing him to change laws to fit his agenda.
Often confused with a dictatorship, autocracy is a governance system headed by a single ruler called an autocrat. The autocrat's decisions are not subject to legal restraints, and the autocrat exercised unlimited and undisputed power. The term was a favorable feature for rulers, having no conflicts of interest in the government to their own rule. While autocratic countries are not always malevolent, they are continuing to face rising resistance. Modern autocratic countries include Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Egypt, Oman, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Eswatini.