A stratocracy (from στρατός, stratos, "army" and κράτος, kratos, "dominion", "power") is a form of government headed by military chiefs.[1] It is not the same as a military dictatorship or military junta where the military's political power is not enforced or even supported by other laws. Rather, stratocracy is a form of military government in which the state and the military are traditionally or constitutionally the same entity, and government positions are always occupied by commissioned officers and military leaders. Citizens with mandatory or voluntary military service, or who have been honorably discharged, have the right to elect or govern. The military's political power is supported by law, the constitution, and the society. A stratocracy therefore is more often a meritocracy and does not have to be autocratic by nature in order to preserve its right to rule.

Notable examples of stratocracies

Modern Stratocracies

The closest modern equivalent to a stratocracy is the State Peace and Development Council of Myanmar (Burma), which is arguably different from most other military dictatorships in that it completely abolished the civilian constitution and legislature. A new constitution that came into effect in 2010 cemented the military's hold on power through mechanisms such as reserving 25% of the seats in the legislature for military personnel.[2]

Historical Stratocracies

Cossacks were predominantly East Slavic people who became known as members of democratic, semi-military and semi-naval communities,[3] predominantly located in Ukraine and in Southern Russia. They inhabited sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper,[4] Don, Terek, and Ural river basins, and played an important role in the historical and cultural development of both Russia and Ukraine.[5]

From a young age, male Spartans were trained for battle and put through grueling challenges intended to craft them into fearless warriors. In battle, they had the reputation of being the best soldiers in Greece, and the strength of Sparta's hoplite forces let the city become the dominant state in Greece throughout much of the Classical period. No other city-state would dare to attack Sparta even though it could only muster a force of about 8,000 during the zenith of its dominance.[6]

Fictional Stratocracies

The Cardassian Union of the Star Trek universe can be described as a stratocracy, with a constitutionally and socially sanctioned, as well as politically dominant, military that nonetheless has strong meritocratic characteristics.

In Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, the Terran Federation was set up by a group of military veterans in Aberdeen, Scotland when governments collapsed following a global war. The Federation allows only those who complete a period of Federal Service to vote. While this is not only military service, that appears to be the dominant form. It is believed that only those willing to sacrifice their life on the state's behalf are fit to govern. While the government is a representative democracy, it appears to be dominated by active and former members of the military due to this law.

Amestris, the setting of the Fullmetal Alchemist Anime Series is a stratocracy. Amestris is a Unitary State with a Parliamentary Republic type of government

See also


  1. Bouvier, John; Gleason, Daniel A. (1999). Institutes of American law. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-886363-80-9.
  2. Burma 'approves new constitution'. BBC News. May 15, 2008.
  3. Cossacks lived along major rivers -- Dnieper, Don, Volga, Terek, Ural, Amur -- and had excellent naval capabilities and skills-- they were excellent fishermen and sea merchants in peaceful times and executed expert naval service in war times. Cossacks combined features of US cowboys, US cavalry, and the US Navy.
  4. R.P. Magocsi, A History of Ukraine, pp. 179–181
  5. Count Leo Tolstoy, a noted author, wrote "that all Russian history has been made by Cossacks. No wonder Europeans call all of us that...Our people as a whole wishes to be Cossacks."
  6. Harley, T. Rutherford. The Public School of Sparta, Greece & Rome, Vol. 3, No. 9 (May 1934) pp. 129-139.
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