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A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A dictatorship is a state ruled by one dictator or by a small clique. The word originated as the title of a roman dictator in the roman senate elected by the roman senate to rule the republic in times of emergency (see Roman dictator and justitium). Like the term 'tyrant' (which was originally a non-pejorative Ancient Greek title), and to a lesser degree 'autocrat', 'dictator' came to be used almost exclusively as a non-titular term for oppressive rule. In modern usage the term 'dictator' is generally used to describe a leader who holds or abuses an extraordinary amount of personal power. Dictatorships are often characterised by some of the following: suspension of elections and civil liberties, proclamation of a state of emergency, rule by decree, repression of political opponents, not abiding by the rule of law procedures, and cult of personality. Dictatorships are often one-party or dominant-party states. A wide variety of leaders coming to power in different kinds of regimes, such as one-party states, dominant-party states, and civilian governments under a personal rule, have been described as dictators. They may hold left or right-wing views. Etymology Originally an emergency legal appointment in the Roman Republic and the Etruscan culture, the term 'Dictator' did not have the negative meaning it has now. A Dictator was a magistrate given sole power for a limited duration. At the end of the term, the Dictator's power was returned to normal Consular rule, though not all dictators accepted a return to power sharing.
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