Authoritarian Types of Government

Authoritarian governments place all the power for making decisions, passing laws and conducting the business of the state with one individual or a very small group. These countries rise and fall on the strength of their rulers, who go down in history with a variety of names associated with them such as “great” or “terrible”.

Roman Emperors are an example of authoritarian rulers.
AutocracyIn an autocracy, a person or group of people rule a nation with unlimited and unaccountable power. This type of authoritarian government differs from monarchy or theocracy in that it implies no hereditary ascension to power or religious support for leadership. It can, however have certain military characteristics. The Roman Empire’s position of Cesar is an example of an autocrat with full command of the military. The only means to remove an autocrat from his position of authority is typically through revolution (in which the entire government is overthrown) or assassination of the ruler. The latter happened to more than a few Roman emperors through history.

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MonarchyA monarchy consists of a single ruler appointed through birthright. This ruler has complete authority to move troops as he sees fit, levy taxes and make laws as he chooses without consultation of advisers or acknowledgment of the will of the people. The king or queen also functions as the head of state negotiating treaties or declaring war on foreign countries. Many powerful families throughout history have used the concept of “noble” birth to keep national power centralized. England, Spain and France have all used a monarchy authoritarian form of government in their past.

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TheocracyA theocracy is an authoritarian system of government in which all a nation’s power is centralized in a group of religious figures or one religious leader. This individual or group of acts as both religious leaders for the nation and its head of state. Laws in these nations are imposed through the interpretations of a holy text. For example, The Pope functions as both the head of state for Vatican City (which is its own nation) and the head of the Catholic faith. Once elected, a pope’s power is absolute and no means exists to remove him from his office other than death.

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DespotismDespotic rule exists as a more tyrannical form of authoritarian rule. Where monarchies, autocracies and other forms of government flourished with happy populations throughout history, despotic governments shutter the civil rights of its citizens and deal violently with vocal dissenters. The reigns of certain dictators like Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler have been associated with despotic rule.

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