10 characteristics of the dictatorship

Dictatorships are models of government in which all power resides in an individual or an elite. Because they are regimes of force, the form of dictatorship is capable of being applied within the framework of any political tendency, so that there have been right-wing dictatorships and left-wing dictatorships. Thus, all dictatorships share some features of totalitarian regimes. To understand it better, let's get to know the main characteristics of dictatorships.

facto government

Dictatorships are de facto governments, that is, governments are not recognized in the legal framework of a certain State and, therefore, do not enjoy political legitimacy. This can happen in two ways:

  1. As a consequence of a coup;
  2. Due to illegal government occupation, whether in the face of a power vacuum or as a resistance to the abandonment of power.

What has been said implies that a democratically elected leader can become a dictator if, once the period has come to an end, he resists calling free elections and / or handing over power to the successor.

Absence of separation of powers

The separation of powers is suppressed during dictatorial regimes, either under their open elimination or under the totalitarian control of all their instances.

Concentration of power in an elite

Since there is no separation of powers in dictatorships, power is totally concentrated in the dictator and a privileged elite that hangs around under his leadership.


Decisions in dictatorships are made arbitrarily, openly ignoring the legal framework and the principle of separation of powers. The dictator or the ruling elite act with their backs to the law or pass accommodative laws in order to perpetuate themselves in power.

Suspension of the rule of law

Tribute to the disappeared during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.

From all this it follows that in dictatorships there is no rule of law, that is, respect for the principle that all subjects of the nation, including the ruling elite, are equal before the law and must answer to it. Therefore, to be sustained over time, dictatorships suspend all kinds of constitutional guarantees, whether declared or not.

Election suppression or manipulation

The dictator and his elite attribute to themselves the ability to interpret the needs of the people or, simply, they act on the fringes of it. In this sense, the elections are suppressed or, depending on the ideological model, they are manipulated to guarantee a single result. This is the case in countries where the government of the day freely controls the electoral council.

See also Characteristics of Communism.

Control and censorship of the media

In dictatorial regimes, the government exercises control and censorship of the media, which implies the suppression of freedom of opinion and freedom of the press.

Illegalization of political parties

In dictatorships, political parties are seen as threats, since they are forms of popular organization and representation. Therefore, parties are often outlawed and live in hiding. In hybrid regimes, parties are not outlawed but they are persecuted and intimidated.

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