The Encyclopedia
of Differences

Difference Between Autocracy and Dictatorship

Table of Contents

The main difference between autocracy and dictatorship is that the autocracy is a government led by a single ruler called an autocrat, while a dictatorship is a kind of autocracy in which authorities are exercised by just one person or a group of people.

They're similar systems governments, and they can sometimes be used interchangeably.

Autocratic regimes are sometimes seen as not so bad. On the other hand, dictatorships are always seen as negative and oppressive. Autocrats often lacked the personality cult, but dictators have a great personality that helps them attract the power they want.

What is an Autocracy?

The political system in which all the authority is in the hands of a single ruler who exercises both political and legal power decisions is called an autocracy.

An autocrat leads his power freely and by himself without explaining to anyone by making decisions based on his only judgment and ideas.

The autocratic regimes don't have to face political disputes from opposite sides because there are none.

What is a Dictatorship?

A dictatorship refers to a form of government in which a person or group of people rules a nation. The dictatorial rule is exercised through various mechanisms to ensure that powers remain under control by dictators.

Dictatorships belong to authoritarianism, in which they control all aspects of the public and private life of their people. All kinds of political propaganda are used to promote his only kind government of government.

Differences Between an Autocracy and a Dictatorship


An autocracy includes monarchy and dictatorship; therefore, dictatorship is a variant of autocracy.

The autocracy includes many variants, not only Monarchy and Dictatorship. Kleptocracy, plutocracy, oligarchy, theocracy, tyranny, and technocracy are all forms of absolute government and each of which is divided into other variants.

Political system

An autocratic government has a political system in which one person rules the whole nation, while a dictatorship is a person who commands the entire country.

In a pure form of autocracy, whoever commands the people is legitimized in filling that role.

Unfortunately, the lust for power and wealth has led to the emergence of various variants of autocracy over time, many of which are not legitimate and catastrophic and harmful to people.


An autocrat refrains from making extremely important decisions that could hurt his people, while a dictator cares about the consequences of his choices on the people but still carries out his intentions even if they lead to serious consequences.


Autocracy is government by one person, while a dictatorship may be the government of one person of a particular party or class.

The dictator is often supported by a group of supporters who remain loyal to him. All of them are aware of the "dirty" propaganda so that the leader and his supporters can stay at the top of the power and profit from it.


Some people view autocracy as a more severe form of dictatorship. This can be true when you consider the ruthless and violent leaders who have been in charge of countries that are dictatorships. However, autocracy can have its benefits. 

Autocrats use different methods of controlling their country and the people in it. 

A dictatorship is much like a monarchy or an empire, where one person controls the country and its resources. 

On the other hand, autocracy is a handful of people in control who are served by a small number of people. 

When autocrats are good leaders, this form of leadership shows that they care more about the people under them than dictators who have no real power over the people and are content to make them suffer as mercilessly as possible.

Comparison Chart: Autocracy Vs Dictatorship

GovernmentCentralized, there are almost no government factionsAcquire power by force, fraud, coercion, terror
AuthoritySupreme authority is concentrated in the power of just a single individual whose actions are unconstrained by legal constraintsThe dictator exercises absolute authority
Monarchical systemMonarchies and other types of governments can be autocraciesDictatorships don't have to be monarchs
LeadershipAutocrat lacks in charisma, which likely prevents him from taking drastic decisionsA dictator has the potential to harm anyone who resists him

Similitudes Between an Autocracy and a Dictatorship

  • In both cases, there is only one person who rules and decides.
  • Both have enormous and infinite decision-making powers.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was autocracy born?

Autocracy seems to have always existed as a kind of government.

We can find a confirmation even in the Roman Empire, where the emperor was trying to obtain more and more decision-making powers.

Can an autocracy become a dictatorship?

There are several cases in history in which the seizure of power started from a fine autocratic form and then became a real dictatorship, changing the rules and the whole political and legal order.

The two most notable cases that this century has taught us were Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy, two different names that, despite everything, didn't have too many differences.

The world and the rules were perceived and thought in the same way; they both were born within "an autocracy", but after became both dictatorships.

The same happened in Spain in 1936 and centuries ago in the Tsars' imperialist Russia.

What's the meaning of autocratic power?

Autocratic power is a form of absolute monarchy, where the sovereign shares no power with either the ministries or the ruling classes.

Are there still dictatures in the world?

A lot of countries are still under dictatures. North Korea seems to be the country with the least freedom; its leader commands practically everything.

Another country with a total absence of freedom is China, where there is population control and a complete lack of freedom.

Tchad has a long history of violence, civil wars, and repression, and no elections have been held since 2015.

Turkmenistan is one of the countries with the greatest deprivation of personal freedoms in the world and has amended the Constitution to remain in office for life.

Unfortunately, the list seems to be very wide on all continents of the planet.
It's quite useful to note that most of the countries under a dictatorship are constantly and for decades tormented by civil wars, mostly caused by the ruler who craves power and wealth for himself without thinking about the well-being of his people.

How can we recognize autocracy?

The government first attacks the media and civil society, polarizes political discussion and issues of interest to society, disrespects opponents, and disseminates false information, only to undermine formal institutions.

In 2020, 68% of the world population lives in autocratic countries, 20% more than in 2010. Electoral autocracy remains the most common type of regime.

In general, self-righteousness is spreading, while the democratization process has slowed down.


We have seen how a dictatorship is nothing more than a form of autocracy, with small or perhaps large differences.

In its pure form, an autocrat, even if he has all control in his hands, will use it or try to do it for the good of the people, in the form of written government regulation.

The dictatorship is a seizure of power, sometimes the guilt of a state whose interest is just to keep its power over the entire people by limiting their freedom.

Although the whole world knows so many dictatorships, there are today forms of government that are much more advanced such as democracy. Certainly, this still retains some imperfections, but everything can be improved.


Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
Share our Article on:

Table of Contents

About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
All Posts Written By Nicolas Seignette

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

magnifiercrosschevron-downarrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram