Salient Attributes of Democratic, Authoritarian, and Totalitarian Governments
A democracy is a form of governmental organization in which power belongs to all people who constitute its population; plainly speaking, it is the rule of people. In a democracy, people have an equal right to vote, freedom of speech, religion, etc., and can qualify for elections in governmental institutions. Authoritarianism is the system characterized by autocratic political decision-making, restricted pluralism, and limited participation of the state’s population in state policies.
“Just as democracy is an outgrowth of a society attached to values of open government, pluralism, and political party competition, so is authoritarianism a product of unique historical variants within a political culture”.
Authoritarianism tends to concentrate political power in hands of the few, to refuse any democratic elements of politics; authoritarian power is traditionally obtained as the result of violent, unstable action. A Totalitarian regime is a combination of authoritarianism and strong ideology that governs the life of citizens, the presence of propaganda in the state, etc. In general, it is hard to distinguish between a democratic or an authoritarian state in its pure form. For example, one can state that Canada is a democratic state because “Canadians enjoy more elections, more party competition, and a greater amount of government accountability”. At the same time, the rule of law and party competitiveness is very vague in China, which allows making the conclusion that it is an authoritarian regime.
At the present moment there are still examples of authoritarian regimes in the world; e.g. Kenya in Africa (there is the single-arty regime, a subtype of authoritarianism under which a single ruling party concentrates the power in its hands, influences state policies and elections), and Chile in South America (there the case of Salvador Allende’s government signified the failure of democracy and return to authoritarianism).