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The oxymoron democrature is a catchphrase of the political discourse , as a neological trunk word composed of democracy and dictatorship .

Word origin and meaning

In its 9th edition from 1992, the “German Dictionary” describes “Demokratur” as a jargon cross between democracy and dictatorship. The term originated around 1950. The American journalist and Germany expert Edwin Hartrich described it in 1980 as a cynical reaction by post-war Germans to the political contradiction between what Americans preach and what they do.

The term found its way into the Bundestag in the debate on the first government declaration by Konrad Adenauer, meeting on September 22, 1949. The former National Socialist Fritz Rößler , who lived under the false name of Franz Richter after 1945 and was exposed in 1952 , who repeatedly attracted attention in the Bundestag with right-wing extremist statements, described the newly founded Federal Republic as a "democracy". Rößler thus articulated a distrust of the new state under Allied supervision which was widespread not only in the “right-wing camp”. According to the historian Sebastian Ullrich, the so-called “Bonn“ democrature ”was just as hostile to right-wing extremist circles as to the Weimar Republic .

For the media scientist Bernhard Pörksen the term “democrature” is a right-wing extremist neologism for discrediting democracy. The intention is the defamation of democracy as "the camouflage of the factual dictatorial exercise of power". The Office for the Protection of the Constitution also counted the term “democrature” in the arsenal of right-wing extremist tactics, among the anti-democratic slogans intended to belittle democracy.

A word formation like “democrature” is also called amalgamation or blending according to Dieter W. Halwachs in linguistics . This denotes new words from parts of other words, whereby these parts do not have to be morphemes : “The amalgamation, the fusion of words z. Partly due to partial homonymy and also taking advantage of the syllable or morpheme boundaries, [...] is often used playfully in everyday language. "For the Germanist Alexander Ziem, the term" democrature "is one of the" contaminations "that contain hidden predications . Here the hidden predication “( This ) democracy is ( like ) a dictatorship”.

Democrature is described as a "form of government that has developed from a democracy to a quasi-dictatorship" and is characterized by a democratic deficit. In this sense it corresponds to a sham democracy .


In German-speaking countries

In Die Zeit , the term was mentioned for the first time in an article on April 6, 1950: "In Bonn there is a joke that the new German state is a" total democrature "."

The term was first used in Spiegel magazine in the November 23, 1955 issue. It was reported on the handling of the Bonn criminal police with the "common phrase".

"That new formation to designate Adenauer's form of government, the contamination from democracy and dictatorship, democrature is a Mainz carnival formation from 1951", asserted the Munich philologist Werner Betz in 1971 . Today, however, the use of the expression by cabaret artists such as Dieter Hildebrandt is better remembered .

  • “A strong, authoritarian state is desirable for right-wing extremists […] [z] and democracy is not only criticized, but also denigrated by derisive terms such as 'substitute democracy', 'democrature' or 'democracy'" (Marion Stangl).
  • "So it wasn't a dictatorship , it was a dictatry, and what we have now is a democrature, which in principle amounts to the same thing." ( Peter Brasch on dealing with cultural workers in the GDR and after reunification)
  • “In order to adequately describe this domestic political practice, the term ' post-democracy ' must be further developed and replaced by 'democrature'. It describes a state practice that has internally given up reference to the demos , denied it self-determination and, while maintaining democratic outward appearances, gradually established an authoritarian to dictatorial policy. "" Junge Freiheit "on August 6, 2016 on the political system in Germany 2016.

Outside the German-speaking area

  • “Overall, the new constitution not only abolishes democracy, but also the principles on which Mustafa Kemal built modern Turkey in 1923 on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire: on secularism , the separation of state and church. An Islamic democrature would emerge . ”(Historian Nicolas Baverez on the constitutional referendum of 2017 after the failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 ).
  • In the countries of the post-Soviet space , the political scientist Georgi Satarov consistently used the word «демократура» ( Democratura ) to describe the current political situation: an article with this title that describes the "impasse of authoritarian modernization" ( Russian «тупик авторитарной» » ) in Russia , was published by him on October 25, 2004 in the Novaya Gazeta . In the same year, a collection of articles by Satarov was published under this title. According to Fedor Burlatsky , “Democrature is not exclusively a Russian phenomenon. It emerged and died out in many countries that had radical reforms - Argentina and Brazil, South Korea and Taiwan. At the same time, ”said Burlatsky,“ democrature seems to be ripening in the soul of a Russian because he comes to power precisely because he is not free himself ”.

    In the West, the term was transferred to the realities of modern Russia by the Canadian political scientist Michel Roche. He published the article “Vladimir Putin's democracy” ( French “La démocrature de Vladimir Poutine” ) in the Montreal newspaper “ La Presse ” (March 12, 2004). The article by Scottish journalist Neal Ascherson in the London Review of Books (January 6, 2005) discussing options for democrature in the countries of the former Soviet Union and the prospects for the transition from democracy to democrature in Ukraine had a big one international response. Ascherson calls it 'Demokratura', which clarifies the borrowed, non-English character of the word. Finally, in 2006, a book by the German journalist Boris Reitschuster was published with the title “Putin's Demokratur” .
    Neal Ascherson writes:

    Most of these countries are democratic: constitutions, parliaments, a formally independent judiciary, regular elections, guarantees of free will and freedom of assembly. In practice, all of these institutions are manipulated in the name of preserving the privileges of the post-communist elite. In some democracies, such as Asia, manipulation is extensive and outrageous. In other countries such as Ukraine or Russia, election fraud and the use of state violence against political challenges are usually pursued with a certain degree of coverage. The main thing is to keep this gang in power while convincing the people and the outside world that the political process, albeit in crude form, reflects the will of the people.


  • Political extremism as a problem of democratic systems: Right-wing extremism in Austria , Marion Stangl, 2004/05, Institute for Society and Social Policy

Web links

Wiktionary: Demokratur  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Single receipts

  1. ^ Hermann Paul (1846–1921) , German Dictionary , Walter de Gruyter 1992, p. 167.
  2. Edwin Hartrich, The Fourth and Richest Reich , Macmillan 1980, p. 90; Quote: "Demokratur, a postwar addition to the German language, expressed the cynical reaction of the Germans to the political contradiction they perceived between what the Americans preached and what they practiced. Formed from democracy and dictatorship, it focused on America's dilemma of "dictatorship by democracy" "
  3. ^ Plenary minutes September 22, 1949 , p. 80 (C) and (D)
  4. Shida Kiani, Reinvention of the Nation after National Socialism ?: Lines of conflict and positions in West German post-war politics , Springer-Verlag 2013, p. 281.
  5. Armin Burkhardt, Kornelia Pape, Language of German Parliamentarism: Studies on 150 Years of Parliamentary Communication , Springer-Verlag 2013, p. 205.
  6. Sebastian Ullrich, The Weimar Complex: The Failure of the First German Democracy and the Political Culture of the Early Federal Republic, 1945–1959 , Wallstein 2009, p. 380.
  7. ^ Bernhard Pörksen, The construction of enemy images: On language use in neo-Nazi media , Springer Verlag 2013, pp. 209/210.
  8. Hans Joachim Schwagerl , Rolf Walther, The protection of the constitution: a manual for theory and practice , Heymann 1968, p. 112.
  9. Dieter W. Halwachs: "In the beginning was the word game." In: Festschrift for Karl Sornig on his 66th birthday. Grazer Linguistic Studies 11 (1994), pp. 55 ff., 77, 80
  10. Alexander Ziem, Frames and Linguistic Knowledge: Cognitive Aspects of Semantic Competence , Walter de Gruyter 2008, p. 332.
  11. Hans-Georg Müller : Adleraug und Luchsenohr: German twin formulas and their use. Peter Lang, 2009, ISBN 3-631-59764-9 , ISBN 978-3-631-59764-4 ; P. 24
  12. Ernst Friedlaender, Teething in our Foreign Policy , Die Zeit of April 6, 1950
  13. Der SPIEGEL 48 of November 23, 1955 , p. 16.
  14. Werner Betz: Humor in Goethe's Landscape and Goethe's Last Words. In: Language and Confession: Hermann Kunisch on his 70th birthday , p. 105,
  15. Hans Joachim Schwagerl : Right-wing extremist thinking. Features and methods . Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1993, p. 24.
  16. Peter Brasch in F.-B. Habel: “Meeting the museum inaccuracy.” Das Blättchen, special edition; October 22, 2012.
  17. On the way to democrature . In: YOUNG FREEDOM . ( [accessed on October 12, 2018]).
  18. Nicolas Baverez: Letter from Europe: On the way to democracy . In: THE WORLD . March 6, 2017 ( [accessed October 12, 2018]).
  19. Georgi Satarov: Демократура (Democrature) . "Samaratoday" ("Самара Cегодня"), Novaya Gazeta , № 79, October 25, 2004, accessed August 8, 2019 (Russian).
  20. Ф. Бурлацкий ( F. Burlatsky ) "Михаил Горбачев - Борис Ельцин: схватка" ( Mikhail Gorbachev - Boris Yeltsin: the battle ); Collection, 2008, p. 213 (Russian)
  21. ^ Michel Roche: La démocrature de Vladimir Poutine. La Presse , March 12, 2004, accessed August 8, 2019 (French).
  22. Neal Ascherson : Is this to be the story? London Review of Books , Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 13-16, accessed on August 8, 2019 (English).
  23. Boris Reitschuster : Putin's democrature. A power man and his system. Ullstein Taschenbuchverlag ISBN 978-3-8437-1000-8 , May 22, 2014, accessed on August 8, 2019 .
  24. Дмитрий Воскобойников ( Dmitri Voskoboinikow ), Нашим читателям ( Naschim Tschitateljam ): «Европа» (Europe) . Журнал Европейского союза, № 47 (European Union Journal, No. 47) , February 2008, accessed August 8, 2019 (Russian).