15 Examples of Authoritarianism, Totalitarianism and Democracy


There are numerous ways to govern nations. Depending on how many freedoms they guarantee to their citizens, how plural the representativeness of the different governing sectors is, and what degree of subjection they have with respect to the rest of the government system, we can speak of democracy, authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

Although its limits are fuzzy and it is often not so simple to distinguish one from the other, we could define them as follows:

  • Authoritarianism. This term is understood to refer to government regimes in which a single person dictates the measures to be taken and decides by the majority. They are a form of dictatorship, in that sense, typical of caudillos and charismatic leaders who feel their will above the legal regulations and all popular interference.
  • Totalitarianism. Another form of dictatorial government, in which power is exercised entirely by a social or political segment, be it a social leadership, a specific party or a military group, without allowing the intervention of any other element of any kind except those that are involved. are under your control.
  • Democracy. Coming from the greek we give (town) and Kratos (power), the term refers to the system that gives power to the decision of the majority, that is, that is governed by decisions, consultations with the people within a framework of fixed regulations of legislation, the rewriting of which must also be consulted and It obeys public domain procedures.

Examples of authoritarianism

  1. The Mugabe government. This military regime, ruled with an iron fist since 1987 by Robert Mugabe, a politician and hero of the country’s independence whose personalist government has sentenced his country to severe economic conditions and the same government fraudulently sustained for 30 years.
  2. The trujillato. One of the most atrocious dictatorships in Latin America, which took place in the Dominican Republic between 1930 and 1961, the year in which its only leader, the military man Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, was finally assassinated. He was known as “El Chivo” and his excesses have been portrayed in literary works by authors such as Vargas Llosa or Junot Díaz.
  3. The Cuban Revolution. As a result of the socialist revolution led by the military Fidel Castro against the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista (1952-1959), a regime calling itself the “Cuban Revolution” was established on the Caribbean island. Castro has ruled Cuba from 1959 to the present day and is accused of numerous executions, forced exiles, and human rights violations.
  4. Pinochetism. This is the name given to the military dictatorship that overthrew the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 and ruled the country with a reign of terror until 1990. Its supreme leader was Augusto Pinochet, president of a military junta responsible for almost 30 thousand victims of prison. politics and torture, almost 2,300 executed and around 1,200 disappeared.
  5. Francoism. In 1936 a turbulent period began in Spanish history, known as the Civil War, when a conservative military leadership led by Francisco Franco gave a coup against the Second Spanish Republic and led to a social and military confrontation that would last three years and cost the lives of almost half a million people. From this conflict Franco would emerge as leader and caudillo of Spain, and thus he ruled until 1975.

Examples of totalitarianism

  1. Maoist China. The People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949 by the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Mao Tse Tung, after a civil war. And this totalitarian order, of intense intervention of the State in the lives of citizens and ordering of the whole society around the communist ideology, remains in force, although there have been changes in the leadership of the single party from the brutal protests repressed in 1989, which cost hundreds of lives.
  2. Nazi Germany. The best known example of contemporary totalitarianism, led by Adolf Hitler in Germany in 1933, as it began the emergence of the so-called III Reich and later the start of the Second World War. This regime militarized almost the entire society, distinguished citizens by their race and their adherence to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (the Nazi party), the only one in existence, and resorted to enslavement and the systematized genocide of the “inferior races” as a policy. of State.
  3. Fascist Italy. Dictatorial in nature, the government of Benito Mussolini (known as the Duce) started in Italy in 1922 is an example of fascism characterized by nationalism, militarism and struggle against communism and liberalism. He used semi-clandestine shock troops, the “black shirts”, to intimidate and attack his political rivals, establishing through the “Fascist Revolution” his de facto government that lasted until 1945, when he was publicly shot.
  4. Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge was a Cambodian guerrilla group that seized power in the country in 1975, after the overthrow of the military dictatorship that ruled it since 1970 and the Vietnam War. Led by the dictator Pol Pot, they established a Maoist model of state that sought to evacuate the cities and force the emergence of a radical agrarian model. They were the perpetrators of the Cambodian genocide, in which more than a million people lost their lives during his four years of rule.
  5. Chavista Venezuela. The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) was the product of the anti-colonialist, nationalist, militarist and popular government of Hugo Chávez, who attempted a failed coup against oil democracy in 1992. During the particularly difficult years of Chávez’s government For Venezuelan society, there was a radical polarization that led to an attempted coup and massive popular protests, to which the PSUV responded by strengthening its control of all State institutions, modifying the constitution to allow infinite reelection, and exercising a seizure of public powers that cast considerable suspicion on the 2013 election of his successor, Nicolás Maduro, after Chávez died of cancer that same year.

Examples of democracy

  1. Nordic Wellness Model. Known for their stability and high standard of living, the democratic republics of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland are often offered as examples of functional democracies with high social investment.
  2. American democracy. Far from being an ideal model, it is a bipartisan democratic system (Democrats vs. Republicans) with deep capitalist and liberal roots, which operates on the basis of sustained consumption and the economic boost resulting from its numerous international military interventions.
  3. European democracies. United around a project of economic coexistence, the nations of the European Union are all democratic, since they elect their authorities through free elections, with great partisan plurality and audit of the rest of the public powers.
  4. Latin American democracies. Imperfect, reeling, still carrying the difficulties of the failed post-independence states and the numerous dictatorships of the Cold War, Latin American democracies struggle to constitute modern and more or less plural states, amid great inequalities and recurring autocratic tendencies.
  5. Canada. Although its form of government is a federal parliamentary monarchy, it is one with strong democratic traditions, wide parties, and simple and direct elections for members of the House of Commons that make up parliament.