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A benevolent dictatorship is a theoretical form of government in which an authoritarian leader exercises absolute political power over the state but is seen to do so for the benefit of the population as a whole. A benevolent dictator may allow for some democratic decision-making to exist, such as through public referenda or elected representatives with limited power.
Many dictators' regimes portray themselves as benevolent, often tending to regard democratic regimes as messy, inefficient and corrupt, but few are widely viewed as such outside their country or supporters.
In the Spanish language, the pun word dictablanda is sometimes used for a dictatorship conserving some of the liberties and mechanisms of democracy. The pun is that, in Spanish, dictadura is "dictatorship", dura is "hard" and blanda is "soft". Analogously, the same pun is made in Portuguese as ditabranda or ditamole. In February 2009, the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo ran an editorial classifying the military dictatorship in Brazil (1964–1985) as a "ditabranda", creating controversy.
- Benevolent Dictator for Life, for the related concept in Free and open source software
- Enlightened absolutism
- Philosopher king
- Shapiro, Susan; Shapiro, Ronald (2004). The Curtain Rises: Oral Histories of the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-1672-6.
"...All Yugoslavs had educational opportunities, jobs, food, and housing regardless of nationality. Tito, seen by most as a benevolent dictator, brought peaceful co-existence to the Balkan region, a region historically synonymous with factionalism."
- Ribeiro, Igor (February 25, 2009). "A "ditabranda" da Folha". Portal Imprensa. (Portuguese)