Family dictatorship

A hereditary dictatorship, or family dictatorship, in political science terms a personalistic regime, is a form of dictatorship that occurs in a nominally or formally republican or socialist regime, but operates in practice like an absolute monarchy or despotate, in that political power passes within the dictator's family. Thus, although the key leader is often called president or prime minister rather than a king or emperor, power is transmitted between members of the same family due to the overwhelming authority of the leader. Sometimes the leader has been declared president for life and uses this power to nominate one of his or her family as successor.

A family dictatorship is different from a monarchy (where the descent is required by general constitutional law), or a political family (where members of the family possess informal, rather than formal and overwhelming political authority).

Distinguishing features

A family dictatorship is different from an absolute monarchy, and the ruler does not usually base his or her authority on the concept of divine right. In the latter, the transition of power within a family is required by general law as part of the state's constitutional arrangement, and continues to apply to all successions in the regime. In the former, this arrangement is not required by general law. In some cases, a special law might be enacted to formally nominate one particular family member of the present leader as the successor. In other cases, the law of the state may even formally provide for elections, but control exerted by the leader on the political and electoral process ensures a hereditary succession. Furthermore, whether each succession succeeds depends on the level of authority and control of the leader. As a result, modern family dictatorships often transition into a non-familial (non-personalistic) regime after a small number of successions: usually just one, and rarely more than two.

A family dictatorship is also different from other political families. In the latter, informal power and influence accrued to the family enables the family to continue to hold political power, often through open and contested elections. In the former, the family uses either formal legal or political power or control to ensure a familial succession, and usually via a controlled or uncontested election, or no election at all.

Because a family dictatorship exerts significant control on its succession, a successor is often determined well in advance. However, because it often lacks a formal general law basis for the succession, there are often long periods of uncertainty as to the identity of the successor. As often happens in other types of totalitarian regimes which plan their own succession, after a successor is determined or short-listed, they often go through a significant period of "grooming", in which the successor gains the experiences and qualifications aimed to make him or her attain the authority necessary to lead the regime.

Successful transitions of power

Kim Jong-un at the Workers' Party of Korea main building
Kim Jong-Un, supreme leader of North Korea and member of the three-generation Kim dynasty is a prominent example of family dictatorship.

Dates in parentheses denote the period of rule.


Central and South America


Al Assad family
The Al-Assad family has ruled Syria since 1971.
  • North Korea: Kim Il-sung (1948–1994), succeeded by his son Kim Jong-il (1994–2011), succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un (2011–present). Kim Jong-il did not officially take office until 1997, when his father was posthumously given the position of Eternal President. On 2 June 2009, it was reported that Kim Jong-il's youngest son, Kim Jong-un, was to be North Korea's next leader.[3] Like his father and grandfather, he was given an official sobriquet, The Great Successor and The Brilliant Comrade.[4] It was reported that Kim Jong-il was expected to officially designate the son as his successor in 2012,[5] but Kim Jong-il died in 2011 and Kim Jong-un was nevertheless announced as his successor.[6] The 2013 edition of the "Ten Fundamental Principles of the Korean Workers' Party" – Article 10, Clause 2 – states that the Party and Revolution must be carried "eternally" by the "Baekdu (Kim's) bloodline".[7] See also Kim Dynasty.
  • Iraq: Abdul Salam Arif (President, 1963–1966); succeeded by his brother Abdul Rahman Arif (1966–1968).
  • Syria: Hafez al-Assad (1971–2000), succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad (2000–present). Bashar's elder brother, Basil al-Assad, had been designated for the presidency but died in 1994, six years prior to his father's death. See also Al-Assad family.


Indirect successions

Unfulfilled successions

Potential successions


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See also

External links

1991 Haitian coup d'état

The 1991 Haitian coup d'état took place on 29 September 1991, when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, elected eight months earlier in the 1990–91 Haitian general election, was deposed by the Armed Forces of Haiti. Haitian military officers, primarily Army General Raoul Cédras, Army Chief of Staff Phillipe Biamby and Chief of the National Police, Michel François led the coup. Aristide was sent into exile, his life only saved by the intervention of US, French and Venezuelan diplomats.

Aaron Burr

Aaron Burr Jr. (February 6, 1756 – September 14, 1836) was an American politician and lawyer. He was the third vice president of the United States (1801–1805), serving during President Thomas Jefferson's first term.

Burr served as a Continental Army officer in the American Revolutionary War, after which he became a successful lawyer and politician. He was elected twice to the New York State Assembly (1784–1785, 1798–1799), was appointed New York State Attorney General (1789–1791), was chosen as a U.S. senator (1791–1797) from the State of New York, and reached the apex of his career as vice president. In the waning months of his tenure as president of the Senate, he oversaw the 1805 impeachment trial of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase.

Burr shot his political rival Alexander Hamilton in a famous duel in 1804, the last full year of his single term as vice president. He was never tried for the illegal duel and all charges against him were eventually dropped, but Hamilton's death ended Burr's political career.

Burr left Washington, D.C., and traveled west seeking new opportunities, both economic and political. His activities eventually led to his arrest on charges of treason in 1807. The subsequent trial resulted in acquittal, but Burr's western schemes left him with large debts and few influential friends. In a final quest for grand opportunities, he left the United States for Europe. He remained overseas until 1812, when he returned to the United States to practice law in New York City, where he spent the rest of his life in relative obscurity.

Absolute monarchy

Absolute monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme authority and where that authority is not restricted by any written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monarchies. In contrast, in constitutional monarchies, the head of state's authority derives from and is legally bounded or restricted by a constitution or legislature.Some monarchies have weak or symbolic legislatures and other governmental bodies the monarch can alter or dissolve at will. Countries where monarchs still maintain absolute power are: Brunei, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Eswatini, Vatican City and the individual emirates composing the United Arab Emirates, which itself is a federation of such monarchies – a federal monarchy.

Communism in Korea

The Communist movement in Korea emerged as a political movement in the early 20th century. Although the movement had a minor role in pre-war politics, the division between the communist North Korea and the anti-communist South Korea came to dominate Korean political life in the post-World War II era. North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, continues to be a Juche socialist state under the rule of the Workers' Party of Korea. In South Korea, communism remains illegal through the National Security Law. Due to end of economic aid from Soviet Union after its dissolution in 1991 and impractical ideological application of Stalinist policies in North Korea over years of economic slowdown in 1980s and receding during 1990s, North Korea replaced Communism with Juche ideology in its 1992 and 1998 constitutional revisions for the personality cult of Kim's family dictatorship and (albeit reluctanly) opening of North Korean market economy reform, though it still remains a centrally planned economy with complete control of the state and agriculture with collectivized farms and state-funded education and healthcare.

Conjugal dictatorship

A "conjugal dictatorship" is the unofficial phrase to denote the rule of Philippine president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda to describe a type of family dictatorship. It originated from a book titled The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos by Primitivo Mijares that was written in 1976 within the decade after the proclamation of martial law.

Corruption in Nicaragua

Corruption remains a serious problem for doing business in Nicaragua. Transparency International's 2017 Corruption Perception Index ranks the country 151st place out of 180 countries. According to Freedom House, since the election of Daniel Ortega in 2006, corruption had increased in Nicaragua.


A dictatorship is an authoritarian form of government, characterized by a single leader or group of leaders with either no party or a weak party, little mass mobilization, and limited political pluralism. According to other definitions, democracies are regimes in which "those who govern are selected through contested elections"; therefore dictatorships are "not democracies". With the advent of the 19th and 20th centuries, dictatorships and constitutional democracies emerged as the world's two major forms of government, gradually eliminating monarchies, one of the traditional widespread forms of government of the time. Typically, in a dictatorial regime, the leader of the country is identified with the title of dictator, although their formal title may more closely resemble something similar to "leader". A common aspect that characterized dictators is taking advantage of their strong personality, usually by suppressing freedom of thought and speech of the masses, in order to maintain complete political and social supremacy and stability. Dictatorships and totalitarian societies generally employ political propaganda to decrease the influence of proponents of alternative governing systems.

Duvalier dynasty

The Duvalier dynasty (French: Dynastie des Duvalier) was an authoritarian family dictatorship in Haiti that lasted almost twenty-nine years, from 1957 until 1986, spanning the rule of the father and son pair François Duvalier and Jean-Claude Duvalier.

Eternal leaders of North Korea

Eternal leaders of North Korea (주체조선의 영원한 수령) refers to the practice of granting posthumous titles to deceased leaders of North Korea. The phrase "Eternal Leaders of Juche Korea" was established by a line in the preamble to the Constitution, as amended on 30 June 2016, and in subsequent revisions.

It reads (in the original version):

Under the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Korean people will uphold the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as the eternal leaders of Juche Korea...

Hereditary monarchy

Hereditary monarchy is a form of government and succession of power in which the throne passes from one member of a royal family to another member of the same family. It represents an institutionalised form of nepotism.It is historically the most common type of monarchy and remains the dominant form in extant monarchies. It has the advantages of continuity of the concentration of power and wealth and predictability of who one can expect to control the means of governance and patronage. Provided that a monarch is competent, not oppressive, and maintains an appropriate royal dignity, it might also offer the stabilizing factors of popular affection for and loyalty to a royal family. The adjudication of what constitutes oppressive, dignified and popular tends to remain in the purview of the monarch. A major disadvantage of hereditary monarchy arises when the heir apparent may be physically or temperamentally unfit to rule. Other disadvantages include the inability of a people to choose their head of state, the ossified distribution of wealth and power across a broad spectrum of society, and the continuation of outmoded religious and social-economic structures mainly for the benefit of monarchs, their families, and supporters.In most extant hereditary monarchies, the typical order of succession uses some form of primogeniture, but there exist other methods such as seniority and tanistry (in which an heir-apparent is nominated from among qualified candidates).

José Santos Zelaya

José Santos Zelaya López (1 November 1853 in Managua – 17 May 1919 in New York City) was the President of Nicaragua from 25 July 1893 to 21 December 1909.

List of wars involving Mexico

This is a list of wars involving the United Mexican States.

Mexico has been involved in numerous different military conflicts over the years, with most being civil/internal wars.


A monarch is a sovereign head of state in a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power in the state, or others may wield that power on behalf of the monarch. Typically a monarch either personally inherits the lawful right to exercise the state's sovereign rights (often referred to as the throne or the crown) or is selected by an established process from a family or cohort eligible to provide the nation's monarch. Alternatively, an individual may become monarch by conquest, acclamation or a combination of means. A monarch usually reigns for life or until abdication.

If a young child is crowned the monarch, a regent is often appointed to govern until the monarch reaches the requisite adult age to rule. Monarchs' actual powers vary from one monarchy to another and in different eras; on one extreme, they may be autocrats (absolute monarchy) wielding genuine sovereignty; on the other they may be ceremonial heads of state who exercise little or no direct power or only reserve powers, with actual authority vested in a parliament or other body (constitutional monarchy).

A monarch can reign in multiple monarchies simultaneously. For example, the monarchy of Canada and the monarchy of the United Kingdom are separate states, but they share the same monarch through personal union.


A monarchy is a form of government in which a group, generally a group of people representing a dynasty (aristocracy), embodies the country's national identity and its head, the monarch, exercises the role of supreme sovereignty. The actual power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic (crowned republic), to partial and restricted (constitutional monarchy), to completely autocratic (absolute monarchy). Traditionally the monarch's post is inherited and lasts until death or abdication. In contrast, elective monarchies require the monarch to be elected. Both types have further variations as there are widely divergent structures and traditions defining monarchy. For example, in some elected monarchies only pedigrees are taken into account for eligibility of the next ruler, whereas many hereditary monarchies impose requirements regarding the religion, age, gender, mental capacity, etc. Occasionally this might create a situation of rival claimants whose legitimacy is subject to effective election. There have been cases where the term of a monarch's reign is either fixed in years or continues until certain goals are achieved: an invasion being repulsed, for instance.

Monarchic rule was the most common form of government until the 19th century. It is now usually a constitutional monarchy, in which the monarch retains a unique legal and ceremonial role, but exercises limited or no official political power: under the written or unwritten constitution, others have governing authority. Currently, 45 sovereign nations in the world have monarchs acting as heads of state, 16 of which are Commonwealth realms that recognise Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. Most modern European monarchies are constitutional and hereditary with a largely ceremonial role, with the exception of the Vatican which is an elective theocracy and the Principalities of Liechtenstein and Monaco where the monarchs exercise unrestricted authority. The monarchies of Cambodia and Malaysia are constitutional with a largely ceremonial role, despite possessing significantly more social and legal clout than their European counterparts. The monarchs of Brunei, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Eswatini have more political influence than any other single source of authority in their nations, either by tradition or a constitutional mandate.

National Unity Party (Haiti)

The National Unity Party (French: Parti de l'unité nationale, PUN) is a political party in Haiti. It was the de facto only political party in the country during the Duvalier dynasty (French: Dynastie des Duvalier), an authoritarian family dictatorship of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, which lasted from 1957 to 1986.


Nepotism is based on favour granted to relatives in various fields, including business, politics, entertainment, sports, religion and other activities. The term originated with the assignment of nephews to important positions by Catholic popes and bishops. Trading parliamentary employment for favors is a modern-day example of nepotism. Criticism of nepotism, however, can be found in ancient Indian texts such as the Kural literature.

Political family

A political family (also referred to as political dynasty) is a family in which several members are involved in politics and businesses, particularly electoral politics. Members may be related by blood or marriage; often several generations or multiple siblings may be involved.

A royal family or dynasty in a monarchy is generally considered to not be a "political family," although the later descendants of a royal family have played political roles in a republic (such as the Arslan Family of Lebanon would be). A family dictatorship is a form of dictatorship that operates much like an absolute monarchy, yet occurs in a nominally republican state.

President for life

President for life is a title assumed by or granted to some leaders to remove their term limit irrevocably as a way of removing future challenges to their authority and legitimacy. The title sometimes confers on the holder the right to nominate or appoint a successor. The usage of the title of "president for life" rather than a traditionally autocratic title, such as that of a monarch, implies the subversion of liberal democracy by the titleholder (although republics need not be democratic per se). Indeed, sometimes a president for life can proceed to establish a self-proclaimed monarchy, such as Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henry Christophe in Haiti.

Somoza family

The Somoza family was an influential political dynasty who ruled Nicaragua as a family dictatorship from 1936 to 1979.

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