86

People are resources, dictators (and oppressive regimes in general) don't want them to defect to other countries because they want them working for their regime. Some of them are going to be people that the regime has put their resources into, like scientists and doctors, but even laborers are valuable for actually gathering and assembling the resources the ...


85

The only obstacle between a government by the people and a dictatorship are the people.


79

Most democratic countries have a constitution which says how the state functions and what kinds of laws can and can not be made. Laws which contradict the constitution are usually declared invalid by a constitutional court. However, most democracies also have a process by which they can modify the constitution. This usually requires a larger majority than a ...


52

I am old enough to have caught the communism era within one Eastern-European country (Romania). Trying to leave the country was a criminal offence and many died trying to do so. Many people that had to leave the country for business/sport events reasons were typically supervised by Security to ensure that they come back. A dictator is usually interested ...


41

A good example of a system trying to prevent this is the Constitution of Norway. The constitution has various ways to protect itself from being altered in undesirable ways. Changes to the constitution require a 2/3 majority in parliament, and perhaps more importantly, they require two consecutive parliaments to confirm the changes. This means that if a ...


32

An excellent example is the German Democratic Republic. In the view of the leading socialists they were the worker's paradise and a counterexample to the fascist Germany in the West (that was not really the untruth in the first years because many Nazis survived unscathed). While in the West the Marshall Plan caused a fast recovery of the economy, Soviet ...


19

To some extent because the Kims have fully embraced being despots and successfully coopted their military in supporting them. A lot of the successful rebellions, or at least protest movements, in the 20th century ultimately came down to the military refusing to shoot their own citizens at scale. People power sounds great, except it ultimately cannot ...


14

There are, but what exactly those things are will depend on the specific political context the autocrat and democratic government find themselves in. The Theory A government of any kind is constrained to a certain set of actions. They may be constrained by formal institutions (laws, branches of government, specific scopes of operation) or informal things (...


13

Many answer focus on resources (people and the money/products they can generate) and blocking of outside information (preventing people having other comparatives or being able to compare their country with others). One answer mentioned **cognitive disonnance*", and I want to take that as a starting point. I grew up in the era of the Soviet Union. Many ...


13

An example from Romania: Before the fall of socialism, it was very difficult to travel into capitalist countries. It was not completely impossible, but very difficult, so it was practically impossible for the majority of the population. There was an old lady we knew, who managed to get an approval to travel to the USA, because she had close relatives there (...


12

Given your stated party affiliation, the implication is that you want to know how the US could become a dictatorship under a flawed but idolized executive who is beloved by the masses. First, you need an extreme popular support (at a 30-40% approval rating, you're no where close with present executives, so there). Next, you need to be able to get a super-...


11

First, one needs to understand that no autocratic ruler rules alone. They always need key supporters. These key supporters might be called generals, dukes, ministers, cardinals, corporations, senators, advisors or something else, but fact is, whatever an autocratic ruler decides will only have effect when the supporters act on them. Now what if the ruler ...


11

@hszmv's excellent answer already alludes to this - there is also another major factor, to whit, the guys with big sticks. AKA, the military. Obviously, how the military feels about things has a very large effect on success of any major national transformation. If the majority of the military opposes your bid for power, no matter how "legal"/"democratic", ...


10

Because by travelling people extend their horizons. By travelling your experience becomes less limited to what you know from your daily life. Even nowadays you can see the example: intolerance towards different people is result of limited perspectives, and people who travel are much less prone to this. They are also less affected by information from media ...


8

It probably wouldn't really matter. In the past, female leaders in Europe have waged war a lot too. From the Economist: But European history suggests otherwise, according to a working paper by political scientists Oeindrila Dube, of the University of Chicago, and S. P. Harish, of McGill University. They studied how often European rulers went to war ...


7

The vast majority of new representative democracies lapse into dictatorship early on. The English Civil War in England the converted England from a monarchy to a Republic in the late 1600s, collapsed after a few years and was followed by the restoration of an absolute monarchy from which a representative democracy emerged gradually over the next two hundred ...


7

The OECD has productivity data (GDP per hour worked) going back to 1986, so it has data for the last 4 years of Pinochet's rule. In each of those years, productivity increased. On a scale in which 2010 is 100, Chilean productivity increased from 43 to 47 between 1986 and 1990. This is typical productivity growth for most countries at the time. There is no ...


7

Yes. You could conceivably have a democratic communism. Communism is an economic type not a government type. Communism is simply a system of non ownership and shared resources for a group of people, in this case a nation. You could have a nation that agrees that no one owns or has anything other than a temporary possession of any thing. That any item ...


7

Elections give legitimacy. Even if there is no other option, if you can report that the majority of voters wanted the dictator to stay in power, it looks better. The dictatorship can then claim to the international community that they have a free country following the will of the people. The goal may be to give their own populace the illusion of a choice ...


6

When people can go to another country, there is the probability that they will see better systems of government, and when they return, will begin to spread dissent. When people can't go anywhere, like North Koreans today, the only information they have is what the government disseminates through its propaganda machines. Those always tell the people how great ...


6

This article tries to cover the reasons you are looking for: non-transparent elections: Nicolás Maduro won the presidential election by a small margin compared with the number of invalid votes. This dubious outcome led opposition leaders to request an audit of the vote. The audit took place, but not under the conditions the opposition demanded....


5

"Favor dictatorship"? I think that's too strong phrase, more "don't mind illiberal democracy". 1) EU/NATO - For practical purposes EU could be perceived as free trade area, free movement area with perks (like structural funds). From purely practical perspective there are clear short term gains of joining it. Its convincing enough for masses, while the rest ...


5

Their primary goal is to avoid the loss of resources. People is a resource, not only in dictatorships, but everywhere. The main problem is that exactly those people will leave first, who are worthy for the foreign countries, and thus they would find job easily. Their secondary goal is to avoid the injection of - for them - unwanted ideologies ("see, Joe, ...


5

I think it comes down to two (or three) issues: Ruthless execution of anyone remotely perceived as a threat to Kim. Gulags (with a high mortality rate) for other offenses. There have been hundreds of executions since Kim Jong-un took power, mainly targeting the higher echelons of military and economic elites. Some were carried out abroad as assassinations. ...


4

Natural resources are far from the only or main source of wealth and power, especially for North Korea or, back in the day, COMECON countries. People (especially working age people) are needed to sustain economic activity or an army. Interestingly, some authoritarian countries did let older people out more easily (East Germany for example), which supports ...


4

In addition to the excellent answers by Thorsten and Alexei, there were a couple of other factors: While many answers noted that "people are resource" (extra kudos to those geopolitically aware that populace size directly corresponds to army size and thus to military power in many dictatorships without US-model professional army), none of the answers noted ...


4

I agree with Vincent's first point, especially the international angle. Elections is what respectable countries do, so the dictatorship holds an election. With "better" results than their democratic rivals. Other points: The population is expected to come for a public show of loyalty to the ruling party. Doing so in a public way inures them to other forms ...


4

All of the above, I would say. Every state communicates to domestic and foreign audiences. The communication strategies and goals will differ, but they should be consistent with each other or people will wonder. (This is probably least relevant to North Korea, but it certainly applies to Russia.) Leaders might want to communicate new capabilities while ...


4

Several powerful governments believe that sovereign states do have the right to organize their internal affairs as they see fit (the Westphalian principle, which helped end the 30 Years' War). Recent attempts to replace this with a Responsibility to Protect suffer from a rather uneven application. North Korea does have nukes. What if they were to place one ...


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