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Basic Trope: A dictatorial dystopia gives itself a nice, democratic-sounding name.

  • Straight: The People's Democratic Republic of Ruritania is a tyrannical dictatorship.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed:
    • The Republic of Ruritania can't be described as a functioning democracy but it's not a dictatorship.
    • The People's Democratic Republic of Ruritania is run by an authoritarian, but not totalitarian government, it can be called a "flawed democracy", there's obvious government corruption, most parties across the political spectrum are loyal to the president, who promised to serve for only two years ... thirty years ago, opposition parties are allowed to exist but are never allowed to have any real power. As long as you don't complain too much about the government, your life is pretty much normal, but complain too much and suddenly you start having endless bad luck. However, there are enough Bread and Circuses that most people don't complain much.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted:
    • The Dark Militaristic Empire of Evulz is a secular liberal democratic federation.
    • A now wealthy and well educated secular liberal republic with heavy elements of direct democracy has stuck with an incredibly negative Filthy Band of Rabble.
  • Subverted: The People's Republic of Ruritania is ... a functioning democracy, once the characters get to see something other than enemy propaganda.
  • Double Subverted:
  • Parodied:
    • See Exaggerated.
    • In this universe, dictatorships are always taken literally (but only taken seriously) if they give themselves democratic-sounding names.
    • The People's Republic of Ruritania gets no aid from other countries because it's all going to their rival neighbours the Democratic People's Republic and Commonwealth of the Peaceful, Definitely Not Oppressed Tropese, who routinely threaten to bomb all their neighbours.
    • The Oppressive Tyrannical Dictatorship of Ruritania is a dictatorship turned democratic. The people have tried to change the name, but the vote on what to rename it always ends in a tie. They wonder, "Why did we become democratic again?"
    • The Ruritanian people, being very Literal-Minded, are extremely confused as to why everyone assumes they live in an oppressive dictatorship when they put "People's Democratic Republic" right in the name.
    • The dictator of Ruritania is named Peebles, and, invoking Egopolis and Pun, he calls the country "Peebles' Democratic Republic of Ruritania."
  • Zig-Zagged:
    • The People's Republic of Ruritania is a dictatorship ... but then the people revolt! However, a military junta takes control shortly after that. But then another democratic resistance movement revolts and replaces the military government. It looks like it's going to turn into a Full-Circle Revolution, until it doesn't ...
    • Tropeistan calls itself something in Ruritanian which can be translated as either "People's Republic of Tropeistan" or "State of Tropeistan." The protagonists never visit Tropeistan, and what they hear about it is extremely contradictory: they hear positive and negative things from sources of all political persuasions and varying degrees of trustworthiness.
    • Continuing from Double Subverted #1, the Dirty Communists turn out to be or become Chummy Commies — but then Dirty Capitalists take control.
    • Continuing from Double Subverted #2, the next government brings in changes that build on Ruritania's good aspects, making life appreciably better for most people.
  • Averted: Ruritania simply calls itself the State of Ruritania, or even just Ruritania.
    • The People's Democratic Republic of Ruritania is actually one of the least authoritarian countries in the world, genuinely living up to its name.
  • Enforced: Ruritania, though a Fictional Country, is a thinly-veiled parody of and Take That! to a real country with a similarly false official name.
  • Lampshaded: "Ruritania, isn't that a democracy?" "Its full name is the People's Democratic Republic of Ruritania." "Ah, I see, so it's a communist dictatorship."
  • Invoked: "Change it from 'Empire' to 'People's Republic'; it sounds better and helps us sleep more soundly."
  • Exploited:
    • The Government can attack whomever it pleases with no provocation provided it does so in the name of "the people."
    • Ruritania is full of Actual Pacifists, and its first government gives it the designation "People's Republic" to make other people think it is an oppressive dictatorship with considerable military force, to scare off any would-be attackers, although in this case it's a sort of Sarcastic Confession.
  • Defied: "'People's Republic'? [Spiteful Spit] That's stupid. 'Empire' sounds way more badass."
    • "No, we're actually going to be a free and just nation controlled by the people. What's the point in a revolution if it's just going to be a Full-Circle Revolution? 'People's Republic' is unironic, got it?"
  • Discussed: Alice and Bob, Ruritanian nationals, argue My Country, Right or Wrong versus My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting over the designation of "People's Republic."
  • Conversed: "I can't believe Ruritania calls itself a republic still; everyone knows they're anything but." —Alice, while reading the paper.
  • Implied: The main cast is watching television together. The People's Democratic Republic of Ruritania is mentioned during a news segment, and Zulik, who hails from there, rolls his eyes upon hearing Tropeistan's full name.
  • Deconstructed: All the world's governments had the best intentions when they started and so they all had democratic names. Unfortunately, Realpolitik kicks in and the progressive policies and democracy must be dropped. It's a point of shame for every leader, but they can't change it because of the idealism that every citizen embraces.
  • Reconstructed: The very names give people in and out of the government ideals to which to aspire, and once some semblance of order comes to the country, they're reminded of the principles under which the nation was created and redouble their commitment to them.
  • Played for Drama: The Democratic People's Republic of Ruritania successfully presents itself as a Utopia and an ideal vacation destination to the rest of the world, especially by virtue of its misleading name. In truth, the country is an Orwellian dictatorship that shoves the vast majority of its population into absolute poverty and violently keeps them from revealing the truth to the rest of the world. Its best vacation destinations are breathtaking to look at, and its wealthiest cities are marvelous technological wonders, but everywhere else is a complete wasteland filled with people desperately trying to survive. Alice and Bob are clueless tourists visiting Ruritania's finest places, but through a series of unfortunate mishaps and bad luck, they find themselves squarely in one of Ruritania's many Wretched Hives, seeing Ruritania's worst through their own eyes and being viciously chased by government agents seeking to "silence" them to maintain Ruritania's masquerade of Utopia to the world.
  • Played for Horror: The Ruritanian government Mind Rapes its own people (and any foreigners unlucky enough to find themselves there) into loving it.
  • Played for Laughs: Ruritania's pretensions of democracy don't convince anyone but Pete, whose attempts to convince his fellow Tropeistanians that Ruritania is at least as wealthy, free, and fair as Tropeistan are comically inept.
  • Intended Audience Reaction: Both Tropeistan and Ruritania have democratic elements, but the former regime is closer to the 21st-century Western ideal of liberal representative democracy while the latter takes after ancient Athens more. This is intended to inspire a discussion of the merits of each.

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