Difference Between Dictatorship and Monarchy

Dictatorship vs Monarchy

Between dictatorship and monarchy, there exist some differences though they both have some resemblances too. If you live in a democratic country (it is the most widely practiced form of governance), chances are that you might feel suffocated in a dictatorship or a monarchy. The rights of citizens are curtailed in both monarchy and dictatorship. However, if you are wondering about the features of a monarchy and a dictatorship, take a look around the world at countries practicing either of these two forms of governance and you will have some idea of what others, especially, democracies think about them. This article will take a closer look at these two and highlight their differences.

What is a Monarchy?

A monarchy is a political system where the office of the head of state is hierarchical in nature, and there are no elections to the post of the head of the state. The crown passes from one generation to another upon the death of the monarch. Different titles are used by monarchs such as king, emperor, queen, duke, duchess, etc. If you thought monarchies are a thing of the past, there are currently 44 monarchs in the world with 16 of these countries being in the commonwealth. Monarchy can be limited, constitutional, or absolute. For a monarchy, it is essential to have a family being regarded as a royal family and the offspring of the current monarch inherits their position of power. UK is one country that is an example of a limited monarchy where the Queen is recognized as a symbolic head of the government though she has no law making powers and does not even deal with the affairs of the parliament. Such an arrangement means that monarchy in Britain is merely ceremonial, and the duty of the royal family is only to keep on going with the traditions.

Difference Between Dictatorship and Monarchy

Queen Elizabeth II

Constitutional monarchy is one where there are powers demarcated for the monarch in the constitution of the country. Sweden is one country where the King has powers as per the provisions of the constitution. In absolute monarchy, the royal family has supreme powers, and it can indulge in law making. There is no voice of the people and monarchy can implement laws as per its whims. Most of the monarchies left today are Constitutional monarchies.

What is a Dictatorship?

Dictatorship is similar to absolute monarchy in the sense that all powers are vested in a single person, but a dictator does not inherit power because of succession. Rather he usurps power through a coup and stays in power by altering the constitution of the country. A dictator is very powerful and stays in power through sheer force. Dictatorship is a form of governance that takes shape when a commander in the army acquires great powers that he utilizes to stage a coup to depose an elected government. He declares himself as the President or the CEO of the country and passes laws to this effect. He suppresses all opposition by crushing them violently or putting all opposition behind bars. Dictatorship believes in the superiority of the state and that people exist for the state and not the state for the people. Dictatorship is considered as antipathy to democracy. Adolf Hitler was a dictator.

 Dictatorship vs Monarchy

Adolf Hitler

What is the difference between Dictatorship and Monarchy?

• Monarchy and dictatorship are two forms of governance where the powers are vested in a single person or family. But whereas office of the head of the government is inherited in monarchy, it is wrested by force in dictatorship.

• Limited monarchy and constitutional monarchy are more lenient than absolute monarchy where the royal family has supreme powers, and the word of the monarch is considered to be laws of the land.

• In dictatorship, the dictator takes any title that he deems fit for himself whereas, in a monarchy, the title is that of a king, emperor, queen, etc.

• People of the country have little or no say in the affairs of the land, and both monarchy and dictatorship are considered to be oppressive.

• Examples for monarchies are Bahrain, Belgium, Britain, Malaysia. These are all constitutional monarchies. Oman and Qatar are examples for absolute monarchies.

• North Korea, Iran, Egypt and China are considered as dictatorships.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Queen Elizabeth II via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Adolf Hitler by Hazhk (CC BY-SA 3.0 de)