An autocracy is a system of government in which a single person or party (the autocrat) possesses supreme and absolute power. The decisions of this autocrat are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of a coup d'état or mass insurrection).[1] Absolute monarchies (such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Eswatini, Brunei, and Oman) and dictatorships (such as Turkmenistan, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Belarus, and North Korea) are the main modern-day forms of autocracy.

In earlier times, the term "autocrat" was coined as a favorable feature of the ruler, having some connection to the concept of "lack of conflicts of interests" as well as an indication of grandeur and power. The Russian Emperor for example was styled, "Autocrat of all the Russias", as late as the early 20th century.

History and etymology

Autocracy comes from the Ancient Greek autós (self) and krátos (power, strength) from Kratos, the Greek personification of authority. In the Medieval Greek language, the term Autocrates was used for anyone holding the title emperor, regardless of the actual power of the monarch. Some historical Slavic monarchs, such as Russian tsars and emperors, included the title Autocrat as part of their official styles, distinguishing them from the constitutional monarchs elsewhere in Europe. This not to be confused with the use of 'auto-', as in 'automatic' or 'automobile', to refer to the lack of need for human rule or power at all instead of power by one.