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Fact: No single democratic country has suffered famine in contemporary times. Moreover, if one asked people where they would rather live, between the choices of the US and North Korea, the majority would unequivocally pick the former. One of the reasons for this is that the US is a democratic country, while North Korea is a dictatorship. The difference in governmental systems in two states proves that there are numerous ways in which country's governance and politics may be organized ranging from liberal democracy to dictatorship and several others in between.

The first aspect for comparison of these two forms is the mode through which the government attains, retains and leaves office. In democracy, it is through a free and fair electoral process (Abts & Rummens, 2007). In dictatorship, the initial elections can be free and fair. However, unlike democracy, the executive agency that centralizes authority, crushes dissent and manipulates the subsequent elections while growing more totalitarian follows the aforementioned elections (Cheibub, Gandhi, & Vreeland, 2010). Moreover, in democratic states the government can come into power only by means of free and fair elections, while in autocracies leaders can take office through military coups and inheritance even in case of quasi-republics like North Korea. In democracies, when the government loses elections or confidence of people, it resigns and lets a new administration run the country (Abts & Rummens, 2007). However, in dictatorship, in case leaders do not obtain enough votes, they insist on staying in power in spite of the lack of mandate from citizens.

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Legitimacy is also an important aspect of the governance of any country. Executive authorities need both domestic and international lawfulness to operate. In both forms of government, international legitimacy comes from the recognition by other nations and international bodies such as the United Nations and the European Union that the government in office is the effective legal administration in that state (Rothstein, 2009). While some countries fail to acknowledge the government that comes to power by illegitimate means such as sham elections or military coups, international realpolitik means that some of these executive establishments will eventually approve the governments (Cheibub, Gandhi, & Vreeland, 2010). Domestic legitimacy comes from the comprehension by the populace that the majority of population has elected the government, and thus the latter is taken to represent all the people (Abts & Rummens, 2007). In the dictatorial system, the public authorities try to gain legitimacy by blaming actual or imaginary enemies for the problems, which the government faces and thus forging the fear among citizens. The administration can also counterfeit extreme nationalism as a way of falsifying lawfulness at home. In case when the government does not gain legitimacy, it uses violent means to quell the population in the event of any demonstrations or insurrection.

One of the principal objects of the state is to help safeguard the rights of its people, which include the right to life, the freedom of expression and the due process. Democracies act on the assumption that the government will respect the rights of its citizens and enforce them (Donnelly, 2013). For example, in the United States, the administration shows regard for the freedoms of conscience and religion. In the dictatorial system, the authority ignores or even flouts the rights and freedoms, as it perceives they will contradict and pose an existential threat to the government (Donnelly, 2013). However, just like the rights are expressed in the Constitution of the US, in many dictatorial regimes, there is the legislation that espouses the rights or there are signatories to international human rights instruments.


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Any governmental system ought to have three distinct branches of power: the Executive led by the President or the Prime Minister, the Judiciary led by the Chief Justice, and the legislature. In those countries that are genuinely democratic, these bodies are independent and counterbalance each other (Gandhi, 2008). However, this is not the case in dictatorial regimes where the head of the state usually establishes control over the other two administrative agencies (Gandhi, 2008). Prevalently, they are merely a rubber stamp to the Chiefs of State. Secondly, because of the apparent authority the executive branch has over the other two, it usually abuses its prerogatives for instance by arresting people and not charging them before impartial courts of law (Gandhi, 2008). Nevertheless, in democracy, the executive finds it hard to malpractice its entitlement as the judicatory, and the Congress can sanction it for any aberrations.

To conclude, the essay compared and contrasted democracy and dictatorship. As it is apparent, the two forms of government have limited aspects in common. Consequently, in democracy, elections are the primary mode of gaining and losing power, while dictators can come into office in several ways including elections, inheritance, and coups. Secondly, in both forms governments get international legitimacy by recognition by other nations. Democracies get domestic legitimacy by virtue of their majoritarian elections while dictatorships search for scapegoats to unite the country around. Both democracies and most dictatorships have documents that safeguard human rights. However, only democratic states are likely to uphold the rights; dictatorships flout them. Lastly, while in democracy the Congress and the judiciary restrain the executive, in dictatorship, the latter dominates the other two branches.

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