From left to right: Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. Hitler's policies and orders both directly and indirectly resulted in the deaths of about 50 million people in Europe.[1] Together with Mussolini's Italian Fascism and the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin, they have marked the inception of the "totalitarian regimes".

A dictatorship is an authoritarian form of government, characterized by a single leader or group of leaders and little or no toleration for political pluralism or independent programs or media.[2] According to other definitions, democracies are regimes in which "those who govern are selected through contested elections"; therefore dictatorships are "not democracies".[2] With the advent of the 19th and 20th centuries, dictatorships and constitutional democracies emerged as the world's two major forms of government, gradually eliminating monarchies, one of the traditional widespread forms of government of the time. Typically, in a dictatorial regime, the leader of the country is identified with the title of dictator, although their formal title may more closely resemble something similar to "leader". A common aspect that characterized dictatorship is taking advantage of their strong personality, usually by suppressing freedom of thought and speech of the masses, in order to maintain complete political and social supremacy and stability. Dictatorships and totalitarian societies generally employ political propaganda to decrease the influence of proponents of alternative governing systems.[3][4]


The word "dictator" comes from the classical Latin language word dictātor, -or suffix.)[5] In Latin use, a dictator was a judge in the Roman Republic temporarily invested with absolute power.