Autocracy vs. Dictatorship: What’s The Difference? 8 Fact

A dictatorship is a type of government in which one person is in charge of everything. On the other hand, an autocracy is a type of government in which supreme power is held by a single person whose actions are not limited by the law.

What Is Autocracy?

According to the definition, it is a form of government in which all power is held by a single person. In an autocracy, a single person has all of the legal power, like setting state policies and making national decisions.

This government is run by a dictator who doesn’t have to answer to anyone. Autocratic leaders make decisions based on their own ideas and thoughts and not on what their followers think.

In the past, the word “autocracy” was used in a more positive way. At the time, there were no competing political parties, so autocratic regimes did not have to deal with political battles between them.

Augustus, who was the first Roman emperor, kept the Roman senate and had full power. During his rule, Rome did well and became quiet.

Autocracy vs. Dictatorship

Characteristics of autocracy

There are a few things that set autocratic governments apart:

  • Leaders make decisions without much or any help from the people they lead or their team members.
  • Leaders are the only ones who can make rules and policies.
  • The team members are always accountable to the leader.

Types of autocracies

Autocracy can take many different forms, and many of these forms overlap. The most common ones are despotism, oligarchy, and fascism.


Despotism is a way of running a country in which one person or a small group of people have all the political power.

Despotism is when one person has complete power and control over everyone else, and everyone else is his slave. This was the first type of government and civilization that we knew about.

The Pharaoh of Egypt is an example of a classic dictator. The word has come to mean control by a dictator. But absolute monarchs used their power to make changes to their countries’ political systems and societies.

This was called “benevolent dictatorship,” and it became popular in 18th-century Europe. Almost certainly, ideas from the Enlightenment were a big part of what made this movement happen.


Oligarchy is a form of government in which a small, elite group of people holds most of the political power (whether distinguished by wealth, family, or military prowess). Oligarchy comes from the Greek words for “few” (v ófligon) and “rule.”

Throughout history, some oligarchies have given power to a small group of people while claiming to be aristocracies (“organization by the “best” and “brightest””).

Most of the time, these governments were run by powerful families whose children were raised and trained to take over the oligarchy.

But this power may not be used openly because oligarchs prefer to be “the power behind the throne” and use money to control who has power.


Fascism is a political philosophy, movement, or system that puts the nation and, in many cases, race above the individual.

It also supports a centralized autocratic government led by a dictator, strict rules on the economy and society, and the killing of people who disagree with it.

Between 1925 and 1943, Italy had fascist governments led by Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party and Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party, or Nazi Party.

Political scientists have started to define and study the different kinds of autocratic regimes in the modern world because there are so many of them. Because of this, scholars have seen a rise in autocratic governments.

The most common kind of authoritarianism, called “electoral authoritarianism” or “competitive authoritarianism” by Levitsky and Way (2010), has democratic procedures but not liberal democratic values.

What Is Dictatorship?

A dictatorship is a type of government in which one person or a small group of people is in charge of the whole country. Dictatorships use a variety of methods to make sure that the people in power stay in charge.

A dictatorship is a form of authoritarianism in which the people in power control every aspect of the private and public lives of the people under their control.

Different types of political propaganda are used on the public to reduce their interest in the opposing government.Monarchy systems in the West used various religious ideas to maintain their power.

Between the 10th and 20th centuries, the number of traditional monarchs went down. Self-chosen leaders were backed by private troops. This led to a string of military governments in South America that lasted until the middle of the 20th century.

Characteristics of Dictatorships

Hadenius and Teorell (2007) changed this way of putting things into five different groups: monarchies, military regimes, one-party regimes, and limited multiparty regimes.

Cheibub et al. (2010) came up with a new way to categorize dictatorships that made a difference between royal, military, and civilian dictatorships.

This analysis of the topic shows that there are totalitarian governments that look democratic or even have democratic institutions that work. For example, some totalitarian governments have regular elections, political parties, and even legislatures.

Autocracy vs. Dictatorship

Key Differences Between Autocracy And Dictatorship

DefinitionAn autocracy is a political system in which all the authorities are handed to a single ruler. That ruler exercises both legal and political power decisions.A dictatorship is a type of government in which the authority is handed to a single person or a group of people.
Political SystemThe political system in an autocracy is run by only one person, which makes all the decisions, and no one can question them.The political system in a dictatorship is ruled by one person or group of people, which is exercised through a different mechanism.
DecisionsIn an autocracy, the ruler makes decisions very carefully and refrains from making any extremely important decision that can hurt his people.In a dictatorship, the ruler cares about the consequences on the people after his choice, but he still carries out his intentions even if they lead to some harm to people.
RulersAutocracy is ruled only by a single person.Dictatorship is ruled by one person or a whole party or class.
ThoughtfulnessAutocrats used different methods to rule and control their county and the people in it.Dictatorship is much like a monarchy, in which a party or person rules a country and its resources.

Autocracy vs. Dictatorship Similarities

    • Autocracy or dictatorship are both forms of government or a political system.
    • In both systems, the ruler has infinite power of ruling and decision-making.

Autocracy vs. Dictatorship Examples

Autocracy Examples

  • August, the first Roman emperor, retained the Roman senate and kept all the power to himself. In his time, Rome grew prosperous and peaceful.
  • Tokugawa became the single ruler of medieval Japan. He closed his borders to foreign trade and controlled all aspects of human lives.

Dictatorship Examples

  • An example of dictatorship can be seen in Spain, ruled by Francisco Franco, who made many controversial decisions.
  • A wave of military dictatorship started in South America in mid 20th century when Elf-appointed leaders were defeated by private enemies.

Autocracy vs. Dictatorship Pros and Cons

Autocracy Pros and Cons

Pros of Autocracy

  • In an autocracy, the government is run by one person, so there is less waste than when there are many branches.
  • In an autocracy, the monarch makes decisions very carefully and stays away from making big ones that could hurt his people.

Autocracy vs. Dictatorship

Cons of Autocracy

  • An autocrat doesn’t have different political groups with different ideas. This means that no one would fight for his or her rights or the rights of his or her family.
  • Under a dictatorship, people don’t have any freedoms. In an authoritarian government, freedom of the press, media, speech, and other civil rights are limited.

Dictatorship Pros and Cons

Pros of Dictatorship

  • In a dictatorship, a small group of people runs the government. This makes it easier to keep the country and its people in line.
  • When everyone in a dictatorship believes the same thing, the dictatorship can be used as an army against the opposition party.

Cons of Dictatorship

  • Inequality among members of the ruling party can lead to problems like the unequal distribution of wealth and mass poverty.
  • In a dictatorship, the leader makes the rules and sticks to them, even if they hurt some people.


Autocracies and dictatorships have been seen as bad for a long time, but they do have three major benefits: they are efficient, safe, and make sure everyone does the same thing.

When a government is run by one person or a small group of people, there is less waste than when the government is split into many different parts.

Now, you can handle it better. Leaders can reach their goals without having to deal with stubborn lawmakers or people who want more power than they should have.

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