Actually, maybe that should look more like an 8. note For those interested, inside the overlapping circles lies the People's Republic of Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka—and that last one is increasingly doubtful.
Sir Humphrey: East Yemen, isn't that a democracy? Foreign Office Official: Its full name is the Peoples' Democratic Republic of East Yemen. Sir Humphrey: Ah I see, so it's a communist dictatorship.
When The Empire tries to masquerade as The Federation, it will often adopt a progressive-sounding name in the process. But often it will go overboard, unable to restrain its own sense of self-importance.
While the true federations around it will usually possess simple, unassuming names — The Federation, The Republic, etc. — the People's Republic Of Tyranny will call itself the People's Republic. If they are really evil and oppressive, they'll call themselves the Democratic People's Republic. Indeed, the more words implying freedom the name of this "republic" sports, the more oppressive and generally un-free it is likely to be.
Some regimes will continue this Theme Naming to important buildings and organizations. As a corollary, be wary of any movement, government, or country that is casually referred to by its leaders as "Glorious."
A leader might be cultivating themselves as a Villain with Good Publicity. Or they may believe that their society is genuinely democratic, even more so than (so called) real democracies. Who knows; if they give everyone Bread and Circuses and the Trains Run On Time, people might not even care.
In Real Life, it's odd that westerners associate the word "republic" with democracy. It didn't have that meaning originally, and now we've got these guys using the name! note It may be because it is a relatively recent, but increasingly popular, invention in Real Life. A government that claims to be democratic, even when it's not, is implicitly agreeing that democracy is a good thing... or maybe just recognizes that others think that democracy is a good thing and is blending in for political camouflage.
Note that "socialist republic" and "people's republic" are terms that communist countries use to describe themselves and communism. note The ruling parties of those states claim(ed) their country was not truly communist, but in transition to the communism envisioned by Marx and Engels. Because of this, the term "People's Republic" is often applied jokingly to any locale that's seen as being politically to the left of its neighbors; in this case, it usually doesn't connote tyranny (and may connote the opposite, a head-in-the-clouds idealism). Indeed, there are many left-wingers who are perfectly fine with small government; they just want that small government to be completely devoted to social reform of its respective community.
A form of Newspeak. A subtrope of Super Happy Fun Trope of Doom. Definitely Names to Run Away From Really Fast if you can. Given what these governmentstend to have at their disposal, that's a big "if." It is often headed by The Generalissimo, or/and Just the First Citizen. If they go so far as to have "elections", see Corrupt Politician. If it's the "Republic" part that's doubtful, see Hereditary Republic.
Compare A Nazi by Any Other Name and Day of the Jackboot.
Yuri: Every faction in Africa calls themselves by these noble names - Liberation this, Patriotic that, Democratic Republic of something-or-other. I guess they can't own up to what they usually are: a federation of worse oppressors than the last bunch of oppressors. Often, the most barbaric atrocities occur when both combatants proclaim themselves freedom-fighters.
The Federation in Starship Troopers, the full name of which according to background material is apparently the "United Citizen's Federation". Only Citizens (which is a privileged status one has to earn; there are a few ways to do this, but military service is the easiest, as the news films proudly declare "SERVICE GUARANTEES CITIZENSHIP") are allowed to vote, you need a license to breed (Citizens can obtain a license more easily), murderers are arrested, tried and executed the same day, the media is nothing but government-owned propaganda, and everyone is horribly desensitized to violence. That said, things don't seem too bad for non-Citizens, though we only see the wealthy ones.
Although 'Federation' does not imply any form of democratic government (only the fact that there are several subjects ruled by one authority) and the term 'Citizen's' may even suggest that living in the country entitles anyone to participate in politics, and not every inhabitant is a citizen (much like in Greek poleis).
The book version is simply called "The Terran Federation", and is similarly less fascistic, though they still require service, not necessarily military, for citizenship.
Rather terrifyingly, Bane turns Gotham City into this during The Dark Knight Rises, complete with Kangaroo Courts reminiscent of the Bolshevik Revolution and the French Revolution (the French Revolution part is quite explicit, as Commissioner Gordon actually quotes A Tale of Two Cities at one point, and in an interview, we learn that Jonathan Nolan actually encouraged Christopher Nolan to read the book while he was writing the script). The wealthy are dragged out of their homes by angry mobs of armed criminals and summarily sentenced to death by a kangaroo court led by Jonathan Crane... aka the Scarecrow, who icily informs every defendant that "Your guilt has already been determined; this is merely a sentencing," where it turns out that both sentences are actually the same thing. Bane declares that this is a "liberation" and that he's a champion of "the people." The audience isn't fooled, as he already made his real nature painfullyclear to Batman earlier in the film.
Live Action TV
24: The Islamic Republic of Kamistan has the trope averted: they are a functioning democracy, albeit one plagued by instability (making them sort of a stand-in for Pakistan since Musharraf's resignation).
Angel: Possible Averted Trope on—the Groosalugg is exiled from Pylea once it becomes (as Gunn described it) "some kind of people's republic". Although this is a reference to what often happens in the sort of failed revolution that often produces people's republics (ie, old revolutionaries are branded traitors for disagreeing with the faction that wins), we never find out what Pylea is now like.
Flash Gordon: In the 2007 series, Ming's authoritarian state is called "The United Peoples of Mongo."
Mission: Impossible: Whenever the team was off to Eastern Europe, it was usually operating in the People's Republic of Something.
The Prisoner: the Village is allegedly run by the Citizens' Council (which is always referred to by the administration as "your Citizens' Council"), and the various Number Twos are always quick to loudly proclaim the Village's democratic nature. In reality, the Citizens' Council is a bunch of brainwashed mental vegetables who rubber-stamp whatever the current Number Two says and the post of Number Two itself is seen filled by a rigged election whose results are overturned as soon as they no longer serve the purposes of the Village's true rulers.
QI: In one episode, Jimmy Carr joked that countries describing themselves as 'the Democratic Republic of...' rarely live up to their name. Conversely, a country describing itself as 'the Fascist Junta' should be respected for its honesty.
Revolution: The Monroe Republic is implied to be this, considering that their military force consist of militias who force their citizens to pay taxes with food. Given this throwback to feudalism, and with Monroe leading what appears to be nothing more than a military dictatorship, it's a republic in name only. "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" shows that the Georgia Federation seems to be a much better place to live, with steam-powered technology, wealth, international trade, and commerce. The episodes "Home", "The Love Boat", and "The Longest Day" show that the Plains Nation is essentially made up of nomadic tribes living like Plains Indians, but without the racist implications. The friendliness in that area depends on the tribe you encounter.
Yes, Minister: Lampshaded this, with "East Yemen" playing the role of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, better known as South Yemen, which (much the way West Virginia is north of Virginia) was geographically east of the Yemen Arab Republic/"North Yemen".
In the BattleTech universe, the five major states are called the Lyran Commonwealth, the Draconis Combine, the Federated Suns, the Capellan Confederation, and the Free Worlds League. The galaxy's Golden Age came about under the rule of the Star League, which was brought down by the machinations of the Rim Worlds Republic. All of these states are feudal monarchies.
But not all are exactly tyrannies. The Federated Suns and the Lyran Commonwealth, for ex, are relatively civilized and mostly law-governed places, the power of the monarch is not absolute in practice, even if it is in theory (they are not figureheads, but neither realm is a despotism, either). The Draconis Combine, OTOH, most certainly is an iron militarism, with harsh regimentation and all the nasty appurtances of a police state. The Free World League barely holds together, and Capella is somewhere in between the civilized monarchies and Draconia in terms of its freedom and decency rating. Nor were the rulers of the collapsed Star League absolute monarchs, though they were most certainly monarchs. The applicability of the trope varies here.
One of the example factions in Tomorrow's War is the Democratic People's Republic of Glory, "Glory" is the only part of the name that isn't a blatant lie, and only because it's the name of the planet they colonized. Their main enemy on Glory is the simply named Republic of Arden and their terrestrial allies include the PRC and Brazil (whose army is known as the "Brazilian National Liberation Army").
The well-known line "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" (Henry VI, Part II) is set in a less well-known context of the speaker's intention to tear down the existing social order and make himself a dictator:
Cade: I thank you, good people — there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score, and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.
The Commonwealth in Red Faction II. A commonwealth being essentially a republic, this one is nevertheless ruled by a dictator, then by another after a coup. The player can remedy this.
An in-joke revolving around Uru: Ages Beyond Myst is that DRC — the D'ni Restoration Council, the in-character face of the game company — secretly stands for the Democratic Republic of Channelwood.
The Democratic Republic of Sahrani from ARMA : Armed Assault. Also, Chernarus from ARMA II is a former bearer of this trope (and a certain political faction wants to return the country to that state).
Fallout 3 has The Republic Of Dave, which teeters on this trope. It's not too bad a place, but President Dave will have visitors shot if they don't adress him properly, legalised presidential bigamy so he could have another wife, teaches incorrect facts in school, and has convinced everyone he is the only viable candidate, so even though they hold regular elections, they only have one choice, unless the player passes a speech check to convince them otherwise (and even then you have to commit electoral fraud to get someone else elected, as Dave will declare the incumbent (himself) the winner in case of a tie). The place used to be the Kingdom of Ted before Dave ousted his father in a coup, believing that a republic is better. If his son, Bob, wins the election, he will turn the place into the Empire of Bob and become isolationist. (According to background material, this same process has gone on for several generations.)
In one developer demo for Tropico 4, the dev says "This island is the People's Democratic Republic of Tropico, which isn't democratic, isn't a republic and isn't for the people." Also in the game itself, where the Player Character's election slogan is: Vote El Presidente. Or Else.
In Mass Effect, despite the Batarian government styling itself as a Hegemony, no-one in Citadel Space buys it.
The Minmatar Republic of EVE Online rides this line to some degree. The Minmatar people, despite being a spacefaring civilisation with a reputation for technological innovation (i.e: building working spaceships out of scrap metal and duct tape), are very fond of their seven ancestral tribes, complete with elders and shamans and all that the word "tribe" might suggest. The current leader of the Minmatar Republic is Chief Maleatu Shakor of the Brutor Tribe, who goes by the title "Sanmatar". His predecessor was Prime Minister Karin Midular, chief of the Sebiestor Tribe. Shakor led the Republic parliament in a vote of no confidence that cost Midular her job, appointed himself Sanmatar when the Republic parliament folded in on itself and fell apart, and the result has been that the Minmatar have slowly worked their way towards a system more akin to a meeting of tribal elders under Shakor's leadership. Whatever the system might be called, it most certainly isn't a republic but they still call it that, presumably for lack of a more accurate term.
The website hosting Le Avventure Del Grande Darth Vader plays with this in an article where the title character states he "freed" a newsgroup (actually, he just decided to post again into an abandoned newsgroup) and issues a "new manifesto" stating, in order: that the newsgroup is now a "democratic popular republic"; that he owns full legislative, executive and judiciary powers within the newsgroup; that ideas different from his own are always off-topic; and finally that he can delete off-topic messages any time.
A Miracle of Science has the People's Republic of the Moon, which isn't actually all that bad; it's a drab grey place, but then it was Luna to start with. (It's Venus, with no such nominative pretensions, that you really have to be careful visiting.) Luna is a communist state, whose economy is described in comic as "managed" and "a mess", where consumer goods flow like water (in order to show how prosperous it is) while essentials are often in short supply - everyone has sunglasses, but few have shoes.
During the Florida vote tabulation snafu between George W. Bush and Al Gore, The Onion ran an article where Bill Clinton took control of the United States and renamed it the "Holy United Imperial Americlintonian Demopublic."
The Transformers has the Socialist Democratic Federated Republic of Carbombya, led by Supreme Military Commander, President-for-Life, and King of Kings Abdul Fakkadi. The horribly offensive stereotyping provoked Casey Kasem to quit the show.
That's right. It was a joke so awful and racist that it broke Teletraan 1.
In American Dad! near the beginning of the episode Rodger Codger is a sign for the fictional country "Republic of Balkavia" when the camera pans down you see that 5 people are hung from it. As a bonus the sign also says "Freedom, Peace, Unity". However it is probably a subversion as it turned out to be a CIA training course.