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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.
The label is often applied to leaders such as Bourguiba (Tunisia), Atatürk, (Turkey), Josip Broz Tito (Yugoslavia), Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore), Park Chung-hee (South Korea), Franklin D. Roosevelt (United States), Qaboos bin Said al Said (Oman)Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Abdullah II of Jordan (Jordan), and Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines).
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."
- Giovacchini, Saverio (April 2004). "Book Review: Benjamin L. Alpers, Dictators, Democracy, & American Public Culture: Envisioning the Totalitarian Enemy, 1920s-1950s". The American Historical Review (American Historical Association) 109 (2): 553. doi:10.1086/530428.
- Ribeiro, Igor (February 25, 2009). "A "ditabranda" da Folha" (in Portuguese). Portal Imprensa.