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This article is about authoritarianism in political science and organizational
studies. For authoritarianism in psychology, see Authoritarian personality.
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Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by strong central power and
limited political freedoms. Individual freedoms are subordinate to the state and
there is no constitutional accountability under an authoritarian regime.[1] Juan
Linz's influential 1964 description of authoritarianism[2] characterized
authoritarian political systems by four qualities:

Limited political pluralism, that is such regimes place constraints on political

institutions and groups like legislatures, political parties and interest groups;
A basis for legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification of the
regime as a necessary evil to combat "easily recognizable societal problems" such
as underdevelopment or insurgency;
Minimal social mobilization most often caused by constraints on the public such as
suppression of political opponents and anti-regime activity;
Informally defined executive power with often vague and shifting powers.[3]

1 Authoritarian government and states
1.1 Authoritarianism and totalitarianism
1.2 Authoritarianism and democracy
1.3 Examples of states considered to be authoritarian
1.4 Examples of states which were historically authoritarian
2 Systemic weakness and resilience
3 Anti-authoritarianism
4 Gender and authoritarianism
5 See also
6 Notes
7 Works cited
8 External links
Authoritarian government and states
Linz distinguished new forms of authoritarianism from personalistic dictatorships
and totalitarian states, taking Francoist Spain as an example. Unlike personalistic
dictatorships, new forms of authoritarianism have institutionalized representation
of a variety of actors (in Spain's case, including the military, the Catholic
Church, Falange, monarchists, technocrats and others). Unlike totalitarian states,
the regime relies on passive mass acceptance rather than popular support.[4]

Several subtypes of authoritarian regimes have been identified by Linz and others.
[5] Linz identified the two most basic subtypes as traditional authoritarian
regimes and bureaucratic-military authoritarian regimes:

Traditional authoritarian regimes are those "in which the ruling authority
(generally a single person)" is maintained in power "through a combination of
appeals to traditional legitimacy, patron-client ties and repression, which is
carried out by an apparatus bound to the ruling authority through personal
loyalties". An example is Ethiopia under Haile Selassie I.[5]
Bureaucratic-military authoritarian regimes are those "governed by a coalition of
military officers and technocrats who act pragmatically (rather than ideologically)
within the limits of their bureaucratic mentality.[5] Mark J. Gasiorowski suggests
that it is best to distinguish "simple military authoritarian regimes" from
"bureaucratic authoritarian regimes" in which "a powerful group of technocrats uses
the state apparatus to try to rationalize and develop the economy" such as South
Korea under Park Chung-hee.[5]
Linz also has identified three other subtypes of authoritarian regime: corporatist
or organic-statistic, racial and ethnic "democracy" and post-totalitarian.[5]

Corporatist authoritarian regimes "are those in which corporatism institutions are

used extensively by the state to coopt and demobilize powerful interest groups".
This type has been studied most extensively in Latin America.[5]
Racial and ethnic "democracies" are those in which "certain racial or ethnic groups
enjoy full democratic rights while others are largely or entirely denied those
rights", such as in South Africa under apartheid.[5]
Post-totalitarian authoritarian regimes are those in which totalitarian
institutions (such as the party, secret police and state-controlled mass media)
remain, but where "ideological orthodoxy has declined in favor of routinization,
repression has declined, the state's top leadership is less personalized and more
secure, and the level of mass mobilization has declined substantially".[5] Examples
include the Russian Federation and Soviet Eastern bloc states in the mid-1980s.[5]
Authoritarian regimes are also sometimes subcategorized by whether they are
personalistic or populist.[5] Personalistic authoritarian regimes are characterized
by arbitrary rule and authority exercised "mainly through patronage networks and
coercion rather than through institutions and formal rules".[5] Personalistic
authoritarian regimes have been seen in post-colonial Africa. By contrast, populist
authoritarian regimes "are mobilizational regimes in which a strong, charismatic,
manipulative leader rules through a coalition involving key lower-class groups".[5]
Examples include Argentina under Per�n,[5] Egypt under Nasser[5] and Venezuela
under Ch�vez and Maduro.[6][7]

Authoritarianism is characterized by highly concentrated and centralized power

maintained by political repression and the exclusion of potential challengers. It
uses political parties and mass organizations to mobilize people around the goals
of the regime.[8] Adam Przeworski has theorized that "authoritarian equilibrium
rests mainly on lies, fear and economic prosperity".[9]

Authoritarianism also tends to embrace the informal and unregulated exercise of

political power, a leadership that is "self-appointed and even if elected cannot be
displaced by citizens' free choice among competitors", the arbitrary deprivation of
civil liberties and little tolerance for meaningful opposition.[8]

A range of social controls also attempt to stifle civil society,[10] while

political stability is maintained by control over and support of the armed forces,
a bureaucracy staffed by the regime and creation of allegiance through various
means of socialization and indoctrination.[8]

Authoritarian political systems may be weakened through "inadequate performance to

demands of the people".[8] Vestal writes that the tendency to respond to challenges
to authoritarianism through tighter control instead of adaptation is a significant
weakness and that this overly rigid approach fails to "adapt to changes or to
accommodate growing demands on the part of the populace or even groups within the
system".[8] Because the legitimacy of the state is dependent on performance,
authoritarian states that fail to adapt may collapse.[8]

Authoritarianism is marked by "indefinite political tenure" of the ruler or ruling

party (often in a one-party state) or other authority.[8] The transition from an
authoritarian system to a more democratic form of government is referred to as

John Duckitt suggests a link between authoritarianism and collectivism, asserting

that both stand in opposition to individualism.[11] Duckitt writes that both
authoritarianism and collectivism submerge individual rights and goals to group
goals, expectations and conformities.[12]

Authoritarianism and totalitarianism

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Totalitarianism is an extreme version of authoritarianism. Authoritarianism

primarily differs from totalitarianism in that social and economic institutions
exist that are not under governmental control. Building on the work of Yale
political scientist Juan Linz, Paul C. Sondrol of the University of Colorado at
Colorado Springs has examined the characteristics of authoritarian and totalitarian
dictators and organized them in a chart:[13]

Totalitarianism Authoritarianism
Charisma High Low
Role conception Leader as function Leader as individual
Ends of power Public Private
Corruption Low High
Official ideology Yes No
Limited pluralism No Yes
Legitimacy Yes No
Sondrol argues that while both authoritarianism and totalitarianism are forms of
autocracy, as they differ in "key dichotomies":

(1) Unlike their bland and generally unpopular authoritarian brethren, totalitarian
dictators develop a charismatic "mystique" and a mass-based, pseudo-democratic
interdependence with their followers via the conscious manipulation of a prophetic

(2) Concomitant role conceptions differentiate totalitarians from authoritarians.

Authoritarians view themselves as individual beings largely content to control and
often maintain the status quo. Totalitarian self-conceptions are largely
teleological. The tyrant is less a person than an indispensable function to guide
and reshape the universe.

(3) Consequently, the utilisation of power for personal aggrandizement is more

evident among authoritarians than totalitarians. Lacking the binding appeal of
ideology, authoritarians support their rule by a mixture of instilling fear and
granting rewards to loyal collaborators, engendering a kleptocracy.[13]

Compared to totalitarianism, "the authoritarian state still maintains a certain

distinction between state and society. It is only concerned with political power
and as long as that is not contested it gives society a certain degree of liberty.
Totalitarianism, on the other hand, invades private life and asphyxiates it".[14]
Another distinction is that "authoritarianism is not animated by utopian ideals in
the way totalitarianism is. It does not attempt to change the world and human
nature".[14] Carl Joachim Friedrich writes that "a totalist ideology, a party
reinforced by a secret police, and monopoly control of ... industrial mass society"
are the three features of totalitarian regimes that distinguish them from other

Authoritarianism and democracy

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Topics and concepts[show]
Principal concerns[show]
Authoritarianism and democracy are not fundamentally opposed to one another, as it
is possible for democracies to possess authoritarian elements. An illiberal
democracy (or procedural democracy) is distinguished from liberal democracy (or
substantive democracy) in that illiberal democracies lack features such as the rule
of law, protections for minority groups and an independent judiciary.[15]

A further distinction that liberal democracies have rarely made war with one
another; research has extended the theory and finds that more democratic countries
tend to have few wars (sometimes called militarized interstate disputes) causing
fewer battle deaths with one another and that democracies have far fewer civil

Some commentators, such as Seymour Martin Lipset, believed that low-income

authoritarian regimes have certain technocratic "efficiency-enhancing advantages"
over low-income democracies, helping authoritarian regimes generate development.
[18] Morton H. Halperin, Joseph T. Siegle and Michael M. Weinstein (2005) counter
this belief, arguing that the evidence has shown that there is no "authoritarian
advantage" and that there is a "democratic advantage" instead.[18] Halperin et al.
argue that democracies "realize superior development performance" over
authoritarianism. They point out that poor democracies are more likely to have
steadier economic growth and less likely to experience economic and humanitarian
catastrophes than authoritarian regimes; that civil liberties act as a curb on
corruption and misuse of resources; and that democracies are more adaptable.[18]
Halperin point out that the vast majority of refugee crises and financial
catastrophes occur in authoritarian regimes.[18]

Studies suggest that several health indicators (life expectancy and infant and
maternal mortality) have a stronger and more significant association with democracy
than they have with GDP per capita, size of the public sector or income inequality.
[19] Prominent economist Amartya Sen has theorized that no functioning liberal
democracy has ever suffered a large-scale famine.[20]

Research shows that the democratic nations have much less democide or murder by
government. Those were also moderately developed nations before applying liberal
democratic policies.[21] Research by the World Bank suggests that political
institutions are extremely important in determining the prevalence of corruption
and that parliamentary systems, political stability and freedom of the press are
all associated with lower corruption.[22] One study has concluded that terrorism is
most common in nations with intermediate political freedom. The nations with the
least amount of terrorism are the most and least democratic nations.[23]

Examples of states considered to be authoritarian

There is no precise definition of authoritarianism, but several annual measurements
are attempted, including Freedom House�s annual Freedom in the World report.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of states which are currently

(or frequently) characterized as authoritarian:

Algeria under Abdelaziz Bouteflika (1999�)[24]

Angola under the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola Party (1975�)[25]
Azerbaijan under Ilham Aliyev (2003�)[26]
Bahrain under the House of Khalifa (1746�)[27]
Belarus under Alexander Lukashenko (1994�)[28][29] on account of Lukashenko's
self-described authoritarian style of government[30][31][32]
Burundi under Pierre Nkurunziza (2005�)[33]
Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge and Hun Sen (1985�)[34]
Cameroon under Paul Biya (1982�)[35][36]
Chad under Idriss Deby (1990�)[37]
People's Republic of China under the Communist Party of China (1949�) �Some
scholars have deemed the Chinese system a 'fragmented authoritarianism'
(Lieberthal), a 'negotiated state' or a 'consultative authoritarian regime'"[38]
Democratic Republic of the Congo under Mobutu Sese Seko, Laurent-D�sir� and Joseph
Kabila (1965�)[39]
Republic of Congo under Denis Sassou Nguesso (1997�)[40]
Cuba under Fidel and Ra�l Castro (1959�)[41]
Egypt under Hosni Mubarak (1981�2011) and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (2014�)[42]
Equatorial Guinea under Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (1979�)[43]
Eritrea under Isaias Afwerki (1993�)[44]
Ethiopia under Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (1991�)[45]
Gabon under Omar Bongo and Ali Bongo Ondimba (1967�)[46]
Hungary under Viktor Orb�n (2010�) has recently moved more towards
Iran under Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei (1981�)[49] Linz wrote in 2000 that
"it is difficult to fit the Iranian regime into the existing typology, as it
combines the ideological bent of totalitarianism with the limited pluralism of
authoritarianism and holds regular elections in which candidates advocating
differing policies and incumbents are often defeated"[50]
Jordan under Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein[51]
Kazakhstan under Nursultan Nazarbayev[35]
Laos under the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (1975�)[52]
Morocco under Mohammed VI[51][53][54]
North Korea under the rule of the Kim dynasty and the Korean Workers' Party
Oman under Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said[56]
Qatar under the House of Thani.[57]
Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin (1999�) (see Putinism for more) has
tendencies towards of authoritarianism, described by some as "really a mixture of
authoritarianism and managed democracy"[58][59][60]
Rwanda under Paul Kagame (2000�)[61]
Singapore is considered authoritarian, especially under the Lee Kuan Yew until
Saudi Arabia under the House of Saud (1744�)[64]
South Sudan under Salva Kiir Mayardit (2011�)[65]
Sudan under Omar al-Bashir (1989�)[35]
Syria under Hafez and Bashar al-Assad (1970�)[66]
Tajikistan under Emomali Rahmon (1994�)[67]
Thailand under General Prayut Chan-o-cha who overthrew the democratically elected
government of Yingluck Shinawatra in a military coup and installed a military junta
to oversee the governance of Thailand (2014�)[68]
Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2003�) described as a �competitive
authoritarian regime�[69]
Turkmenistan under Saparmurat Nyazow (1991�2006) and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
United Arab Emirates under the six royal families of the United Arab Emirates (10
February 1972�)[71][72]
Uganda since independence (1964�)[73]
Uzbekistan under Islam Karimov (1989�2016)[74][75] and Shavkat Mirziyoyev(2016-)
Venezuela under Hugo Ch�vez and Nicol�s Maduro (1999�)[77]
Vietnam under the Vietnamese Communist Party (1976�)[78]
Examples of states which were historically authoritarian
State Time period Ruling group or person Notes
Argentina[79][80] 1966�1973 Military government Argentine Revolution
period of military rule
1973�1974 Justicialista rule of Juan Per�n Ideology is populist
1976�1983 Free trade and deregulatory rule of Jorge Rafael Videla National
Reorganization Process period of military rule
Brazil[81] 1937�1945 Get�lio Vargas Estado Novo period
1964�1985 Military government
Burma[82] 1962�2011 Military government and Socialist Programme Party
Chile[83] 1973�1990 Augusto Pinochet
Czechoslovakia 1938�1939 Party of National Unity
Egypt[84] 1952�2011 Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak
Indonesia 1967�1998 Suharto
Libya[85] 1969�2011 Muammar Gaddafi
Lithuania[86] 1926�1940 Antanas Smetona
Macedonia[87][88] 2006�2016 Nikola Gruevski
Portugal[89] 1926�1933 Military government National Dictatorship
1933�1974 Ant�nio de Oliveira Salazar and Marcelo Caetano Under Estado Novo regime
Spain[90] 1936�1975 Francisco Franco
South Africa[91][92] 1948�1994 National Party Regime ended with the end of
South Korea[93][94] 1948�1960 Syngman Rhee
1962�1987 Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan
Taiwan[95] 1945�1990 Kuomintang
Turkey[96][97] 1925�1945 Republican People's Party
Zimbabwe[98] 1980�2017 Robert Mugabe
Systemic weakness and resilience
Andrew J. Nathan notes that "regime theory holds that authoritarian systems are
inherently fragile because of weak legitimacy, overreliance on coercion,
overcentralization of decision making, and the predominance of personal power over
institutional norms....Few authoritarian regimes�be they communist, fascist,
corporatist, or personalist�have managed to conduct orderly, peaceful, timely, and
stable successions".[99] One exception to this general trend is the endurance of
the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party, which has been unusually
resilient among authoritarian regimes. Nathan posits that this can be attributed to
four factors: (1) "the increasingly norm-bound nature of its succession politics";
(2) "the increase in meritocratic as opposed to factional considerations in the
promotion of political elites"; (3) "the differentiation and functional
specialization of institutions within the regime"; and (4) "the establishment of
institutions for political participation and appeal that strengthen the CCP's
legitimacy among the public at large".[99]

Main article: Anti-authoritarianism
After World War II there was a strong sense of anti-authoritarianism based on anti-
fascism in Europe. This was attributed to the active resistance from occupation and
to fears arising from the development of superpowers.[100] Anti-authoritarianism
also became associated with countercultural and bohemian movements such as the Beat
Generation in the 1950s,[101] the hippies in the 1960s[102] and punks in the 1970s.

Gender and authoritarianism

According to a study by Brandt and Henry, there is a direct correlation between the
rates of gender inequality and the levels of authoritarian ideas in the male and
female populations. It was found that in countries with less gender equality where
individualism was encouraged and men occupied the dominant societal roles, women
were more likely to support traits such as obedience which would allow them to
survive in an authoritarian environment and less likely to encourage ideas such as
independence and imagination. In countries with higher levels of gender equality,
men held less authoritarian views. It is theorized that this occurs due to the
stigma attached to individuals who question the cultural norms set by the dominant
individuals and establishments in an authoritarian society as a way to prevent the
psychological stress caused by the active ostracizing of the stigmatized

See also
Anti-democratic thought
Criticism of liberal democracy
Illiberal democracy
Managed democracy
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Works cited
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Ideologies and Party Systems (eds. Eric Allard & Yrjo Littunen) (Helsinki:
Academic, 1964)
External links
"Are we entering the age of the autocrat?" by Francis Fukuyama, The Washington
Post, August 24, 2008
Authoritarian and totalitarian forms of government
Forms of government
Social and political philosophy
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