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An autocracy is a political regime where a single individual - an autocrat - holds the power, qualified as personal and absolute power. The autocrat’s power covers all political, economic, social, and military power. In this political regime the autocrat is not subject to any legal or legislative or even constitutional restraints. 

These regimes are often maintained by the use of the military and police powers and they are sometimes overturned by popular rebellion or coup d’état. 

An autocracy can be compared to a democracy, in which the majority of the people rule by the transfer of power to representatives or to an oligarchy, in which a minority of individuals rule. A dictatorship can be an autocracy, but a dictatorship can also be ruled by a group of people. 

[Last updated in April of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team