What is the Difference between Democracy and Dictatorship?

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Democracy vs dictatorship

The difference between Democracy and Dictatorship is not just that of two different terms or words. It is a distinction which is stemmed from the very pursuit of policies and administrative operations. While democracy is a representation of the popular voice and welfare of the people, dictatorship, on the other hand, is the suppression of that voice. The latter is rooted in the corruption of power at the hands of a ruler who steers the country according to his own whims. It is crucial to understand these fundamental types of Governments as political composition directly influences the quality and equality of life of the common folk. In this blog, let’s get to know about the core differences between Democracy and Dictatorship. 

Credits -WION

What is Democracy?

Simply put, Democracy is the type of government in which the people can make themselves heard. In fact, Democracy is a government by the people. Here, the participation of people is of paramount importance without which it loses its very essence and nature. People in this form of the rule have their voices represented and they receive an equal share of opportunities whether they belong to a religious or an ethnic minority. Here, anybody has the right to criticize the government.

Credits – Australian Human Rights Commission

Also Read: Masters in Social Work

Features of a Democracy

From the equality of opinion and choice to a representation of the people, here are some of the main features of a Democracy.

  • Freedom of Expression: In a Democratic setup everybody has the right to express their opinions without any fear or intimidation. A person can criticize the government or form opinions freely. They are free to choose their mode of expressing their voice.
  • The Sovereignty of People: People in a Democracy are the ones who make it possible to choose the government of their own choice through the process of elections. They elect their representatives who are all accountable to the people.
  • Free Judiciary: In a Democratic nation, the judiciary is an independent institution it itself, not answerable even to the ruling government. The rights of a judiciary are vested in the very constitution of a country. It ensures fair and unbiased operations of the judiciary, even if it involves giving a verdict against the government.
  • Rule of Law: What makes a country democratic is its primacy for the rule of law. It takes precedence over everything. Under the law, everybody is equally answerable for their actions irrespective of their social or political status.

Must Read: What is Representative Democracy

What is a Dictatorship?

Dictatorship is a type of government where one person or a group of people enjoy unbridled power in the absence of any limitations. Dictators usually use forcible means to achieve political power. They subsequently maintain their government through the use of violence, terror, and the suspension of civil rights. They also use different means such as the dissemination of disinformation to sustain their rule. All this helps the dictator govern the country in the direction of his choice, even though it may come at the cost of public welfare.

Source: Decoding Data

Must Read: Social Science Class 9 – French Revolution Notes

Features of a Dictatorship

When compared to a Democracy, Dictatorship lies opposite on the spectrum in many of its features. It bereaves the public of any actual say in the government, while the dictator enjoys unchecked power. Here are some of the major features that can help you identify a Dictatorship:

  • Rule of a Single Person: Unlike a democracy, there is no concept of election and a single person or party continues to rule without any constitutional limitations. There is no accountability for the ruling government and people have no say in the government policies.
  • Suppression of Individual Liberty: In the absence of any constitutional guarantees the government effectively denies individual rights. People in this type of government are persecuted and repressed on a daily basis.
  • No Rule of Law: In this type of government there is a sort of government-enforced anarchy. Where people can be detained or imprisoned without any trial in the judiciary. They can be severely punished for petty crimes and languish in jails for years altogether.
  • Absence of Judiciary: In case, a person is charged with a crime he has no option for appeal in a court. Neither the government can be held accountable for its actions because there is a total absence of a sham presence of a judiciary.

Before we move on to discuss the difference between democracy and dictatorship,
read our blog on Class 9 Social Science -Democratic Rights Notes!

What are the Differences between Democracy and Dictatorship?

As you must already know, these two forms of governments are fairly contrasting in nature. Here we will explain the difference between Democracy and Dictatorship very briefly for your understanding.

  • The key difference between democracy and dictatorship is the change in government. Dictatorship has a single-party rule without any elections, while Democracy is marked by regular and frequent elections which include the votes of all citizens.
  • In a Democracy, people’s voice takes primary precedence in matters of governance, whereas in a dictatorship people are effectively silenced and carry no relevance for the government. This is a major difference between Democracy and Dictatorship.
  • Another difference between Democracy and Dictatorship is the accountability of the government which is a primary characteristic of a Democracy. In a Dictatorship, the government behaves according to its own wishes and whims, having unchecked power to implement policies and regulations.
DefinitionIn a democracy, a person who
gets the most votes and popular
support rises to become the leader.

The person is responsible to
respect the electorate and looks
for its welfare.
In dictatorship, there is only one ruler
who has illegally grabbed power and
rules the whole country with iron-hand.

Their rule is accompanied by
propaganda to sanctify the rule. 
Type of Political SystemIn this state there is a multi-party
or bi-party system representing
diverse communities and ideas.
Political power is granted only
through a strictly monitored free
election process. 
In a dictatorial form of government,
the political parties are mostly
proscribed from carrying out any type of activities. The political congregations are made illegal.
Liberty & RightsUnder democracy journalism and
media is allowed to flourish freely,
and criticize the government and their policies without worrying for consequences. 
Individual liberty and free expression
are anathemas in a dictatorship.
No one is allowed to say a word
against the government and civil
rights are suspended. 
GovernanceDemocracy gives people a
free choice to establish or join a
political party of their choice.
Since there is a single party system,
political opposition is ruthlessly
FreedomGovernment can’t direct people’s
lives in this state. Here, subjects are
free to do anything they want or
however, they want to spend their resources.
Here every sphere of people’s lives,
their social lives are influenced by
government regulations and edicts.

Also Read: Functions of the Parliament

Must Read: What is an Authoritarian Government?

Why is Democracy Considered Better than Dictatorship?

An important question that you might wonder after knowing the differences between these two political systems is why Democracy is considered better than Dictatorship. This is simply because Democracy gives more fundamental rights and human rights to the people and focuses on the public rather than dictatorship which purely follows what its dictator wants to do. Let’s explore the major reasons why democracy is considered better than dictatorship:

  • Democracy facilitates equality in the country and its citizens. Everyone is provided with equal rights, the most important of them being the right to choose their representatives. However, dictatorship blindly follows the orders of a country’s dictator’s rules and wishes.
  • Democracy involves proper methods and ways to resolve conflicts, whether within the country or outside the country, while Dictatorship has no such features for conflict resolutions amongst its citizens.
  • In political terms, Democracy is considered a form of legitimate government where certain individuals are the representatives of the people and the citizens also get the requisite rights and duties to function as samaritans. On the other hand, Dictatorship has no process for choosing the representative, thus has more chances of falling with the dictator and leaving its citizens without any representative.
  • Democracy establishes a set of rules and regulations for quality decision-making, introducing new laws, conflict resolutions, solving distress amongst its citizens as well as for the timely resolution of the issues and problems faced by its public. On the other hand, dictatorship only believes in following the ruler blindly without objections, the scope for questioning the rules or even understanding the issues faced by its masses.
  • Democracy is also an accountable political system as the government can be held accountable for its decisions and with the provided rights, citizens can question and inquire about what’s happening in terms of decision-making. Dictatorship remains limited to a certain group of people who can’t really be trusted and considered accountable as their own personal interests are favoured over what’s beneficial for the masses.

Difference Between Democracy and Dictatorship Venn Diagram

Courtesy: Blendspace

India is a Democracy, as mentioned in the Constitution of India, that guarantees the following rights to its citizens:

Right to Equality
Right to Freedom of Religion
Right against Exploitation
Cultural and Educational Rights
Right to Freedom of Expression 
Right to Constitutional Remedies


Which countries are currently under dictatorship?

Even in today’s times there are many countries which are reeling under the dictatorial form of regimes. Those countries are Iran, China, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, Egypt, Cambodia, Kazakhstan.

Who are dictators today?

Some brutal dictators ruling different countries are, Ayatollah Khamenei, Bashar al Assad, Kim Jong Un, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Abdul Fateh al Sisi, Xi Jinping and Hun Sen.

Is democracy better than dictatorship?

In every sense, democracy is the ideal state of living. It promotes equality, gives people the right to choose their government and voice their opinion in a free manner.

How do you spot a dictator?

Cardinal features of a dictatorship include, suspension of civil rights, muzzling the political opposition, undermining of judiciary, continuous state of emergency and relentless dissemination disinformation and propaganda.

Is monarchy a democracy or dictatorship?

Usually, a monarchy is characterized by the rule of a king or queen, exercising total control over its people. That form of monarchy is the face of dictatorship. But a country like the United Kingdom, which is a constitutional type of monarchy, narrows down the control of a monarch to a great extent.

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