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Democracy Versus Dictatorship - by Zarah Anyas Kasim (2013)

Updated: Jan 12, 2021


Democracy was abducted from the Greek word Democratia. Many people have come up with different credible definitions for democracy. Below is an example. Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as the rule of the people by the people and for the people. Simply put democracy is when power is in the hands of the citizens of a nation. The people rule rather than individuals or some entities. Demo means people and cracy means rule.

There are two forms of democracy; the direct democracy and the indirect or representative democracy. Direct democracy are the ones that are mostly practice in small villages or communities with few inhabitants. Here everyone actively participate in the decision making process through voting while in representative democracy, the population is rather large unlike the direct democracy. Some delegated people are mandated by the citizens to make or take decisions on their behalf. An example is the members of parliament who represent the people in their geographical area. They are elected mostly through voting from time to time. The system of chosen the candidates is dynamic. Values are very significant in a democratic society and that is what democracy clearly entails. They serve as a fundamental guideline for a country to spear up it development. Therefore growth over period in such societies is seen when the citizens share common values and goals as well as attach strong sentiments to the values they uphold. Democracy can be more or less categorized as the majority rule since the decisions taken with the bulk of the masses in favor.

In contrast to the above, is dictatorship which is clearly the opposite of democracy. The one man rule. It is the rule by command or decree, only the government takes actions, makes decisions and the civilians just have to comply. They is absolutely no party to oppose in this system. Some of the types of dictatorship are the monarchy, military rule, autocracy and oligarchy.

Thesis statement

Democracy or dictatorship is one of the leading enigma that fills the minds of people these decade after the world wars and has arose a series of arguments throughout the world especially in the emerging and developing countries. Most nations previously under the dictatorial rule are swiftly transcending to a democratic rule one way or the other like through revolutions, protests or peaceful transactions with both parties.

This paper gives an extensive view on the actual observation that democracy is a better system of governance than dictatorship. Dictatorship has characteristics like no respect for the basic human right, political power in the hands of the top 1% in the nation or the elite group, no rule of law and does not look after the needs of the masses. It is due to the characteristics of the bad system of governance that I stand by the motion that democracy is a right choice of governmental form than dictatorship in order to make the world a better place to live in. Subsequently in this paper, freedom and justice, political stability and economic stability will be the main line of focus that will be discussed among the numerous advantages of democracy.


Firstly, the main contributing factor to why democracy is better compared to dictatorship is the guarantee of freedom and justice in the society. The constitution is the highest reference material in a democratic nation. Equality before the law, the rule of law and the grant of human rights are the essentials tools for a nation to progress. The mass media are free to operate without no intimidation on what is released or any fear of oppression .In these nations, there are absolutely no censorship on printed materials ,video or audio people fancy in. the judicial system is also transparent in its dealings and the government holds no right to intervene in the decision making process.

According to the American government webpage, liberty, justice and equality are the basic democratic values. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is free to live life he way they want to as long as it does not coincide with the rules and laws of the country .Each and every single soul is treated equally and no one is given any special treatment due to his or her position, family background or material wealth. The right to live, right to practice any form of religion and the right to speak up and demand for justice or implement the right thing is not rolled over by any one unless the method use is not legitimate.

Unlike in dictatorship, where there is no respect of human rights, people who voice out their grievances towards the government are killed, intimidated or sentenced to a jail term without any court hearing. The press is intimidated or sentenced and cannot fully operate due to that fact. Most importantly, people are not treated equally and there’s total injustice to the civilians. To achieve an unquestionable democracy all citizens must come together at one common front. “Words like freedom, justice, and democracy are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.” Baldwin James.

Secondly, democracy also facilitates political stability. According to Sen (2000), universal suffrage and division of power neither produce political instability nor hinder economic growth. Economic and political freedoms rather strengthen each other to produce political stability. Democratic institutions have a good ways of dealing with the change or the shift of power from one leader to the other.

Thereby allowing citizens to take part in the election process by voting. There is also a multi – party system and citizens are free to join any party or group of their choice. The election process is also been monitored by the citizens to ensure it is free and fair. The electorates are also free to stand for elections under any party or individually as long as they passed the qualifications. Cases of coup d’état are rather unheard of in democratic society. There is also diverse selections of leaders or representatives with various skills to boost the country’s development.

Due to freedom of speech in such societies, leaders receive or are able to detect signs or warnings of serious catastrophes as well as any up rise of revolutions, protest or political unrest of any form. Amartya Sen (1984) has plausibly argued that, precisely because they give citizens a means to express themselves, no democratic regimes have suffered from the kinds of massive famines that have afflicted authoritarian regimes such as China. Meanwhile in dictatorial system, there are no free and fair elections, no multi – party system to oppose the ruling body. The government uses force to remain in power and there are frequent cases of coup d’etat. Democratic nations must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend. Margaret Thatcher . Lastly one of the issues that cannot be left un-tackled when it comes to what democracy encompasses is economic stability that the nation enjoys. According to Marc Schiffbauer and Ling Shen a democratic society is been regarded as a prerequisite for economic growth. It goes further to state that there is a link between GDP growth and democracy. Example is the clear fact that democratic countries like the United States of America have seen drastic development over the years.

Most investors around the world like to invest in countries that practice the democratic system of government than the ones ruled by dictators to prevent any unnecessary loss. The citizens are free to own property and to the trade unions are also allowed to operate freely without any intimidation or seizure of property or goods respectively. It therefore enhances the desire of every individual to succeed financially.

Companies and corporations can be owned by citizens and not by the top people in the case of dictatorship. Taxes are placed on goods and services with the peoples consent so there are no crises or chaos unless there are some unavoidable situations in the countries. Democratic countries have good ties with the international community as well as international organizations in order to get support or help on every aspect of economic development. The wealth distribution in democratic nations are even and everyone has their own share when it comes to infrastructure, health care, education and the list goes on. The governments act in the interest of the people to safeguard the economy from any social or political crisis.

In contrast to democracy, dictators only act in their own interest and the nation’s wealth is not equally distributed therefore the citizens are left to suffer their own fate. Democratic priorities remain clear: to provide a tax cut for working families, to promote policies that produce jobs and economic growth, and to assist millions of our fellow Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Nancy Pelosi


Democratic governance has been present in human history since 6th century BC. One of the examples of primitive democracy is the holding of town meetings in ancient Greek cities. (Direct democracy). According to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), “most countries today are formal democracies. By the end of 2011, the only countries considered autocracies were: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland, Syria, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Uzbekistan”.

This explains that majority of the people of the world have accepted democracy as a better form of government than autocracy which a branch of dictatorship. Because of democracy leaders in Africa are changed or chosen by ballots through voting and not bullets. Meanwhile in the early 1960s and 1970s almost 75 percent of African leaders were chose through coup d’états and rebellion, but as of 2000 to 2005 this number has decreased to 19 percent. The ODI again states that “the wealthiest countries tend to be democracies: outside the petro-states, the top 25 richest countries in the world (as ranked by the World Bank) are also fully established democracies”.

In a nut shell democracy is an in one package when it comes to making the world a better place to live in. Political stability, economic stability and growth, freedom and justice are all the byproducts of a democratic society and this in turns steers the nation towards the path of development. The youth of every nation should be a good watch out for the old folks in order to sustain the country’s democracy because the young ones demonstrates elements of a good democratic system. This to avoid the world to witness the likes of Adolf Hitler of German, Idi Amin of Uganda, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The past general secretary of the United Nations once said “”No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline.” — Kofi Annan

References 1. Schiffbauer, M. (2008, June 24). Democracy vs. dictatorship. Comparing the evolution of economic growth under two political regimes. 2. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. “Corruption and Growth,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August. 3. Rodrik, Dani, 1998. “Democracies Pay Higher Wages,” CEPR Discussion Papers 1776, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 4. Chowdhury, Shyamal K., 2004. “The effect of democracy and press freedom on corruption: an empirical test,” Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 93-101, October. 5.Mohtadi, Hamid & Roe, Terry L., 2003. “Democracy, rent seeking, public spending and growth,” Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 445-466, March. Alicia Adsera & Carles Boix & Mark Payne, 2000. “Are You Being Served?: Political Accountability and Quality of Government,” Research Department Publications 4241, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department. 6.AlÌcia Adserý, 2003. “Are You Being Served? Political Accountability and Quality of Government,” Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 445-490, October. 7.Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini & Francesco Trebbi, 2001. “Electoral Rules and Corruption,” NBER Working Papers 8154, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc. 8.Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini & Francesco Trebbi, 2003. “Electoral Rules and Corruption,” Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 958-989, 06.

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