What Is the Opposite of a Democracy?


A democracy is a form of government that is controlled by the citizens. Elections are held to select people to hold seats within the government. These individuals are expected to carry out the wishes of the citizens. Actions that are performed are based on the popular votes and voices of the citizens. An autocracy is the opposite of a democracy. This type of government is overseen by one individual that determines what types of actions will be carried out.

Autocracy vs. Dictatorship

Autocracy and dictatorship were once used interchangeably to describe a form of government. However, many differences set these two forms of governing apart. Most autocratic regimes are viewed as being favorable. Dictatorships are always seen as being tyrannical and oppressive. In an autocracy, a single person makes all the decisions for a group of people. In a dictatorship, one person or a group of people may be responsible for making all rules and carrying out all actions. Autocratic forms of government are seen as being friendly and nonthreatening. Dictatorships are seen as being cult-like and often cruel in nature.

How Is an Autocratic Leader Selected

There are two main ways to achieve autocratic leadership. The first is to inherit the position. This often happens when an autocrat dies or is unable to fulfill their duties. The leader will pass the responsibilities and leadership role to a son or close relative. The second way to achieve autocratic leadership is to overthrow the government. This is very different than the democratic way of government in which the citizens hold an election and votes are cast to determine the officials that will hold the government seats.


When structured properly, autocratic leadership has many benefits. These forms of government can make decisions quickly, even in stressful situations. This is due to them following the same guidelines without welcoming changes. There is always a clear chain of command. This prevents confusion and oversights when carrying out actions. The leadership is often seen as being strong and directive when necessary. 


While autocratic leadership does display many benefits, it can have its negative aspects as well. This form of government does not welcome group input. Many leaders view group members as not being trustworthy when carrying out duties and responsibilities. Some autocratic countries have seen impaired morale among the people. This results in resentment of the leader. Creative thinking and ideas are discouraged. This causes autocratic-led countries to lack in areas such as technology and education.

Autocratic Countries Around the Globe

There have been many autocratic led countries that have changed their form of government over the years. However, you will still find many countries that still honor this type of government system. Some modern autocratic countries seen around the world today include:

  • Egypta
  • North Korea
  • Venezuela
  • Oman
  • Brunei
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Turkey
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Eswatini
  • Cuba