What if, you wake up tomorrow to realize that the government has taken away your freedom and the regime now has control over all aspects of life? Oppression, insecurity, and conformation suppress you and your voice, thus keeping you under constant surveillance and limiting your freedom. Sounds horrifying, right? Well, that’s what life under a dictator seems like. From democracy to authoritarianism and dictatorship, the world is shaped by dynamic parallel landscapes. As we step into the tumultuous landscape of 2023, there are some countries that are close to being taken over by dictators. But which countries are these?
Dictatorship: what is it?
Dictatorship is the complete opposite version of democracy. In a democracy, the power lies in the hands of the people. Whereas, in dictatorship, the entire power is concentrated with the leader or leading group without effective constitutional limitations.
The leader in a dictatorship, also known as the dictator, gains the despotic political power through force, coup d’états, or military takeovers. Moreover, he has the sole control over all the various domains of governance, ranging from legislation to military and economy.
There’s no opposing party to challenge his actions or decisions. The media becomes a propaganda tool, disseminating information that promotes the ruler’s ideology and suppresses dissenting voices. The worst part about this form of government is that it disregards basic human rights.
On an economic note, in dictatorship, the ruling elite and their associates often exploit state resources for personal gain. This leads to widespread poverty and inequality among the population. You may better understand this with the example of the situation in North Korea, which has been suppressed by dictatorship for a long time.
Types of dictatorship
History has seen the evolution of various types of dictatorships that have continued to exist in different forms around the world. Here’s a brief overview of the common types of dictatorships found worldwide.
- Single-party dictatorship: In this form of government, there’s only one political party that monopolizes power. The ruling party controls all state institutions and uses propaganda to propagate its ideology;
- Military: It’s where the military gains the absolute uncontrolled power of governments. Military dictators rule through force and martial law, subordinating civilian institutions. Civil liberties and human rights are usually curtailed, with military tribunals instead of regular courts;
- Authoritarian dictatorship: In this form of dictatorship, the power and control rests in the hands of a single leader or a small group of elites. These regimes maintain control using censorship propaganda;
- Totalitarian: As the name suggests, this form of dictatorship demands full control over the lives of its citizens, from thoughts to behaviors;
- Monarchical dictatorship: Pretty much similar to an authoritarian dictatorship, this form of government has a single hereditary dictator;
- Hybrid: As it sounds, it’s the combination of authoritarian dictatorship and democratic rule. Much like a democracy, elections are held within the regime. However, the main aim behind this government form is to manipulate the people to ensure the ruling party’s victory.
Top countries under or at risk of dictatorship in 2023
If this form of government is so harsh and oppressive, which countries are on the verge of falling into the hands of a dictator?
Since the early 2010s, totalitarianism in Russian society has increased drastically. The condition has further worsened with Putin’s war actions against Ukraine. Moreover, the Freedom in the World Report 2022 has assigned Russia a freedom score of 16 out of 100. This clearly indicates that Russia isn’t free.
At the helm of power, Putin’s regime stands as a personalist dictatorship, where authority is concentrated in his hands. It bestows Putin with all the executive and legislative powers, thus giving him sole access to all the nation’s resources.
China is at risk of dictatorship due to Xi Jinping’s unwavering consolidation of power, the abolition of presidential term limits, authoritarianism at home and abroad, human rights abuses, and his misrule causing economic challenges and international tensions. Concerns have arisen that China is already in a severe dictatorship, with increasing repression and global influence.
Armenia has a history of semi-dictatorship tendencies, the Sargsyan regime dominating the freedom of people. With the continuously increasing corruption, concerns related to cronyism have also come into the picture.
Moreover, human rights such as freedom of expression are fading away in Armenia’s governance. Adding on to the grievances, Armenia’s journey towards a market-driven economy has been marked by formidable obstacles. It’s because the country encountered limited entry to international markets and struggled to entice foreign investment.
Moreover, government-driven infrastructure initiatives have frequently grappled with exceeding budgetary limits or encountering unfortunate setbacks, hindering their successful realization.
Countries already experiencing dictatorship
While these countries are on the brink of facing a dictatorship form of government, there are some governments where it has existed for ages. The World Population Review suggests nations such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Sudan, Syria, North Korea and Vietnam.
As we delve into the unsettling reality of top countries under or at risk of dictatorship in 2023, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the preservation of democracy is an ongoing struggle that demands vigilance from citizens and leaders alike.