Dictatorship is a form of government that centralizes power in one body, if not in the hands of a dictator. The rise to power of a dictatorship is often facilitated by situations of severe economic crisis (e.g., after a war), social difficulties (class struggles), instability of the existing regime, or the pre-existence of a dictatorial regime.

While in the past the transfer of power to a dictator might have been provided for by the constitution itself, and in that case strictly limited in time and closely linked to an emergency situation, today the term dictatorship has come to mean the absolute and usually unchallengeable dominance, in contrast to democracy, of an individual (or a small group of people) who holds power imposed by force, with the denial of freedom of expression and of the press. In its modern meaning, its declination in the authoritarian or totalitarian sense occurred when the use of this form of government was not limited by laws, constitutions, or other political and social factors within the state.

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