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  • A government in which a single leader or party, such as the military, exercises absolute control over all citizens. Power in a dictatorship is maintained through intimidation, terror, suppression of civil liberties, and control of the mass media. The ruler in a dictatorship is called a dictator. A dictator's rule is absolute, that is, not constrained by a constitution or laws. Most current dictatorships are found in Africa and Asia. Some other terms for dictatorship are despotism, tyranny, totalitarianism, absolutism, authoritarianism, and autocracy.

    The term dictatorship originated in the ancient Roman Republic from dictatura, a military office that exercised power during national emergencies, such as foreign attacks, for temporary and limited purposes. A dictatura was authorized by the Roman Senate, usually for no more than six ...

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