The following can be identified as the basic features of Dictatorship:
1. Rule of the person or small group led by one person:
Dictatorship involves the rule of one person or one small group led by one person.
2. Dictatorship comes into existence by force:
The ruler comes to power either by force or through manipulation i.e. by illegal means.
3. Arbitrary Rule of Dictator:
The dictator rules by his will. His will is the law.
4. Irresponsible Rule:
The rule of a dictator is neither transparent nor responsible nor even accountable to the people or to popular institutions.
5. Backed by Military Power of the State:
Usually, Dictatorship is the product of militarism, directly or indirectly.
6. Rule based on Force and Violence:
Rule by force and domination is the eternal law of dictatorship.
7. Ruler acts for the whole nation:
The ruler identifies the interests of the people with his own interests and describes his interests as national interests.
8. Aggressive Nationalism:
The ideology of nationalism is used as a means for securing credibility for the interests of the ruler. In the name of the unity and development of the people, the ruler exercises his power for his self interest.
9. No Difference between State and Government:
Dictatorship does not make a distinction between state and government.
10. Totally opposed to Democracy:
Dictatorship as the rule of one person is totally opposed to democracy which stands for the rule of the people.
11. Little Importance to People’s Rights and Freedom:
Dictatorship pays little attention to the rights of the people but always places full emphasis upon the duties of the people towards the state.
12. Change of ruler by force or violent means:
The ruler exercises power for life or for as much time as he can. The change of ruler-ship is almost always affected by force or a revolution or by a ‘coup’ against the ruler.
13. Centralisation of all powers in the hands of the ruler:
Dictatorship may have a number of governmental organisations for exercising power but each such organisation works under the ultimate authority and control of the ruler.
14. Use of war as a means:
The ruler uses war and aggression as the means for diverting the attention of the people away from their domestic problems.
Two Hallmarks of Dictatorship. Out of all these features, we can identify the following two as the hallmarks of dictatorship:
(a) Dictatorship makes a sharp distinction between the ruler and the ruled and gives all importance to the former.
(b) Dictatorship makes little distinction between state and government. The dictator identifies himself with the supreme power of the state. He has a monopoly over it.
In simple words, it can be said that Dictatorship is the veritable opposite of Democracy. Whereas Democracy stands for popular sovereignty, representative and responsible government, and the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people. Dictatorship stands for one man rule, authoritarian rule over the people and little regard for the rights and freedoms of the people.