Take, for example, Bangladesh's sitting PM Sheikh Hasina.

She has strong political backing from India as they played an active role in removing the army-backed government and putting her in power in 2008 (1, 2). After coming to power, she took control of the army by a massacre (3, 4), executed some of her political and ideological opponents using a kangaroo court (5, 6, 7, 8, 9), threw her main political opponent into prison (10), took control of the judiciary (11, 12), over the years hundreds of people were forcefully disappeared (13), two sham general elections were held in 2014 (14) and 2019 (15).

As a result, she has no opponents left who can challenge her. She is practically immune to removal.

I think the West is not speaking against her sham elections and all other autocratic maneuvers only because India is with her, as the West doesn't want to lose the Indian market.

Now, the question is, in this situation, what opening can the general population look for to remove this authoritarian PM?

  • 9
    You are making very specific allegiations to ask a general question. Thart makes this look like propaganda, not a genuine interest in details of political processes.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 18:35
  • Like 3/4 of the world's population is under a barely democratic regime. And that's a lot of counites. I'm pretty sure that if you peruse the US State Department or EU declarations they'd have expressed some concern or disapproval about Bangladesh, as they do when similar stuff happens in an obscure country in Africa. The thing is that Bangladesh is unlikely to invade anyone or acquire nuclear weapons anytime soon, so there won't be a lot of attention on them in the West. Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 5:14
  • @Fizz "so there won't be a lot of attention on them in the West." That maybe a reason why Western country won't make a lot of noise, but not the only one. Bangladesh is an important provider of cheap labour to Western companies.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 15:14
  • True but Ethiopia isn't. And look at the war there getting little attention, despite supposedly having led to 0.5M deaths from related causes (famine etc.) Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 15:15
  • Every now and then, they just realize the error of their ways and step down. Happened... oh wait.
    – Therac
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 14:25

3 Answers 3


How do leaders get removed?

  • External "regime change"
    That means an outside power takes violent action to remove the current regime. This requires a sufficient consensus of the international community and powers willing to act.
  • A coup without fundamental regime change
    Members of the elite decide that their interests are better served by another figurehead, and take steps. This assumes a non-democratic regime where the elites can topple a leader.
  • A popular revolution
    Members of the non-elite population decide to replace the elite, and the governing structures. This requires a consensus to act and, usually, an already weakened regime. The first ones to speak out against a stable authoritarian regime will usually be punished.
  • Democratic elections
    Many authoritarian regimes maintain a semblance of democracy. That means there may be an opportunity to insist that votes are counted honestly, for a change.

The Economist rates Bangladesh as a hybrid regime very close towards a merely flawed democracy. Such ratings are always problematic in what they include and how, but this suggests that a popular majority against the current leadership could replace her.

  • 1
    Even in democratic regimes, elites can have have mechanisms to topple leaders without regime change. Just look at the UK right now, or the (failed) US impeachments.
    – origimbo
    Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 19:30

There were many very strong empires in the history but there are factors that make them weak over time:

  • Cost. Empires are very expensive to run (army, police, propaganda, political goals force sub-optimal economy, sanctions) and generally only stay strong until economy runs well.
  • Cohesion. Empires rely a lot on the tightly knit elite behind the back of their emperior. As the empire ages, elites often became more interested in their own wealth and local reputation than with the empire. New groups rose up on the edges while the center lost its power.

These two factors fed off each other. As the empire struggles to meet growing expenses, the elites in the center get less and less motivated to help the emperor to maintain control.

After these processes advance far enough and then a crisis hits (rebellion, plague, drought, war or even something much less) — the emperor is eventually unable to respond and the empire collapses. You can read more here.


She is practically immune to removal.


Power is a lot more difficult to grab than what you think. Especially in a country of more than 160 million people. India's backing in this case is not enough to explain her rise to power. So if you want to understand the strength of a dictator's grip on power you have to look at the people and all the forces who surround them. Given the size of the population I suspect there also a big group that strongly supports the people in power. How big how strong they are as a group? Then you have to look around who else could back them. Who is benefiting from the situation? Who is getting rich in your country? Until the rest of the population will ignore them looking only at the top they won't be able to defend themselves.

A lot of times people revolted against a dictator fighting against them as if they were the only ones holding power and eventually they failed. A lot of revolutions ended up changing one person on top without actually changing anything. Have a look at what happened in the countries swept by the Arab spring.

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