The term semi-democracy is used to refer to a state that shares both democratic and authoritarian features.[1]

The term "semi-democratic" is reserved for stable regimes that combine democratic and authoritarian elements.[2][3] Most of them are dominant-party systems—that is, states where opposition parties are allowed and free elections are held. Sometimes the dominant party maintains power through election fraud, while other times the elections themselves are fair, but the electoral campaigns preceding them are not. A young and unstable democracy struggling toward improvement and consolidation is usually not classified as a semi-democratic country.

The late 1980s and early 1990s have seen the demise of many different kinds of authoritarian governments: right-wing military dictatorships in Latin America, and various others in Africa. Often, the governments that replaced them declared their allegiance to democracy and implemented genuine democratic reforms in the beginning, but eventually turned into semi-democratic regimes.


  1. Carroll Quigley (1983). Weapons systems and political stability: a history. University Press of America. p. 307. ISBN 978-0-8191-2947-5. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  2. Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws, Bk. II, ch. 2–3.
  3. William R. Everdell. The End of Kings: A History of Republics and Republicans. University of Chicago Press, 2000.

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