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Yesterday you were leading a pleasant easy going life as a 20 year old lazy, intelligent but good natured, young adult who's father just happens to be the a notorious totalitarian dictator of a very small, but somewhat oil rich, country. Unfortunately your father just died of a heart attack early this morning and now it appears you are the dictator in charge of your country, an honor you honestly could do without.

You're not really cut out to be a dictator, You don't think you would be great at it, and you don't want the stress of leading a country or the hatred of the subjugated populous. In fact you've always kind of felt bad about that whole subjugation thing. It sure would be nice if your country didn't consistently get labeled as one of the 20 worst countries to live in by various human rights watch groups year after year. You always told your father it wasn't right, but he insisted it was necessary to stay in power, and honestly he was more worried about building more statues of himself then improving the quality of life for his citizens.

Now you are in the position to do something about it. You're committed to fixing things by ending the dictatorship and setting up a democracy so the people can rule themselves and hopefully create a more fair society for everyone, and of course save you all the work of ruling.

Unfortunately just because you're committed to this idea doesn't mean you know how to make it happen. Trying to set up a democracy sounds like it would take allot of work and planning, and while your pretty intelligent you have to admit you never had a knack for that sort of large scale organization, or politics in general to be honest. Your not really sure how to go about making arrangements for such a radical change in power.

And then there is the problem with your father's 'advisors'. He had a large number of friends and cronies who were living pretty luxurious lives by exploiting the wealth of the nation, and it's citizens. You doubt any of them will be happy with the idea of creating a democracy and giving up all the power and wealth they currently have. Their not going to help you figure out how to make this happen, in fact you're kind of afraid to even mention the idea to them. What would men who are happy with leading a country that will kidnap and beat dissonance do if they heard you were going to give away their power to the people they were having beat just a week ago?

Your pretty sure you could get some support form other countries like the USA or the UK to do this, they may even finally remove all those trade sanctions once you start to transition the goverment, you just need to figure out how to start the process without getting your own countries leadership too upset with you...

And of course while you sincerely care about improving your citizens quality of life, you're not completely selfless. You would like to arrange for the transition to leave you with a decent lifestyle afterwards, even if not as flamboyant as it was in your father's day, ideally one where you don't have to be involved in politics ever again!

So, how should you set about changing the goverment, without revolutions and all that nasty violence and bloodshed, especially without your blood being shed?

For this question assume an alternate world almost identical to ours, with the only differences being the presence of your small dictatorship. The leaders of other countries that may get involved would be ruled by some general president/prime minister/whatever rather then the specific leaders in power today; in fact I'm open to adjusting political affiliation and general policies of various leaders as necessary to server the plot.

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    $\begingroup$ See youtube.com/watch?v=rStL7niR7gs. Many people will have great interest in keeping the oppressive system intact. If you try to purge them, the military will probably not listen and will remove you instead and replace you with someone who keeps robbing the people and paying them. Also, if you do manage to pass reforms, the people will often demand more, which you may not be willing to give. Then, they will revolt, overthrow you, and the next guy will probably be worse. $\endgroup$ – Richard Smith Jul 30 '18 at 22:11
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    $\begingroup$ This sounds similar to Spain when Francisco Franco died and Juan Carlos I took over. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Jul 30 '18 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ Chile and Pinochet fits the bill pretty closely, except that he did the transition himself. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 31 '18 at 6:12
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    $\begingroup$ Any reason why you don't not grab your passport and jump in the next plane for a nicer country? Setting up a democracy sounds like work, and as a somewhat lazy person I certainly wouldn't bother with it. $\endgroup$ – AmiralPatate Jul 31 '18 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ this is probably one of the biggest unanswered questions of the 21st century. $\endgroup$ – taylor swift Jul 31 '18 at 20:54
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Rather than a pure democracy, transition to a constitutional monarchy. Establish a council of some kind of oligarchic advisors - say a representative from each province's governor, or somesuch. Balance them out with a "people's council". Make it clear that they're both advisory roles (for the time being): their job is to present you with a clear picture of the country's issues and what they think you can do about it. Your job is to make decisions.

Then, over time, gradually change that. Give your advisors more and more specific powers. Make their approval required for certain types of proposals. (Budgets especially - power is almost worthless if you can't pay for your decrees.) Then make yours optional. Frame this as a way to make the country more responsive to its own needs and crises - the king can't be everywhere, so your loyal representatives will handle smaller issues.

Eventually, you'll become pretty much unnecessary to the whole process. Better yet, your advisors and representatives will by this time have grown quite powerful, and will obviously be loathe to give it back to the monarchy any time soon. The downside is that they're likely to be deeply corrupt, and you'll probably want to spend more of your time rooting out that corruption as you go along.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes there is a contemporary dictator doing this in africa (I do not remember which country or name). This dude is making long term changes in the "culture" and "institutions" of the country for it to be able to handle democracy for many many generations. $\endgroup$ – Kavi Vaidya Jul 31 '18 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ Look for spain transition. From Franco dictatorship to constitucional monarchy.. $\endgroup$ – Onofre Pouplana Jul 31 '18 at 13:14
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One possibility that may not be completely feasible in the real world but could make for a fun story is to not do things well, but do them as poorly as possible. Be a really bad dictator. I mean like a B-movie style evil overlord. Do everything you can think of wrong. Find out what people in your country like and ban it. Put heavy tariffs on everything people want to buy. Imprison anyone popular. Steal lots of money and live a flagrantly excessive lifestyle.

You can focus your attention on actions that are highly visible and highly unpopular (especially to people watching oversees) but with no major real-world disadvantages (or even some advantages). You could put a %500 tariff on chocolate, ban music from some popular bands, etc. You can spend money on things that don't cost that much on a country-wide scale but are sure to make international headlines because of how excessive they seem, like a "gold" Mercedes that is actually just thinly-plated.

Acting as a standard villain has some advantages. Villains kill or imprison anyone who could pose a threat to them. This could be used as an excuse to imprison anyone who is competent enough to hold the country together in the face of a power vacuum. Once anyone with any power who isn't stupid and blindly loyal to you is out of power, you can "nationalize" your fathers' friends' wealth and "give it to yourself" (in a form that would be easy to invest back into the economy once you are gone). You can reorganize the military in the worst way possible to guarantee it can't mount an effective defense (or outright flees in the face of the slightest opposition).

Behind the scenes, you can negotiate with some world leader having political troubles to invade the country and restore democracy. You will "commit suicide" during the invasion, and they will give you some land in the mountains were you can live off the small fortune you hid away by skimming off a fraction of a percent of the fortunes you looted from your dad's more corrupt cronies during the chaos.

If you can do this quickly, over the course of a few years, your people won't have to suffer all that much, especially if you focus your attention on highly visible and unpopular but ultimately inconsequential actions. The world will look at it as some crazy spoiled kid who got power he had no idea what to do with and had to be stopped. And professional bureaucrats whose job it is to understand the nitty-gritty details of how a proper government works can rebuild things from the ground up without any the old vested interests getting in the way.

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Use your advisors. They got to where they are for a reason.

You inherited your wealth and lifestyle. But among your fathers advisors are going to be some self-made men and savvy operators. You know which ones they are. Creative, flexible, intelligent and ruthless.

/You doubt any of them will be happy with the idea of creating a democracy and giving up all the power and wealth they currently have/

So you create a democracy where they give none of that up, and you recruit them to help you do it. Point at the changing times. Flatter them by noting the ability of these individuals to pre-empt trouble. Note the presence of filthy rich robber barons in countries like the US. Propose to co-opt chumps like the EU to underwrite the transition.

The ones you choose will be pleased to have been chosen. Some may have been thinking along those lines already, but stayed quiet for fear of your old man. These advisors will help you make the new nation one which will be putatively democratic, well regarded by the foreign (chumps), more revolution proof and also preserve them on the top.

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Slowly

From the bottom up

First you need to gently introduce people to the concept of voting, agreeing something between a group and proceeding with that action. It sounds like you're coming from a very tribal situation. People are used to having a strong man in charge who tells them what to do, each to his own and each to his position.

The local council of elders

You're going to start by pandering to egos, regional councils of elders are going to get a budget to improve their area. This is beneath the interests of national government, but to spend the money they must have a majority vote, in person, to take action. No ballot papers, members are the heads of local households.

That works well enough in the regions but there are too many households in the towns. The elders are going to have to appoint fewer of their number to make up the council, no more than 21 (arbitrary) but there could be 100 households, they're going to have to vote. This can be as freeform as they like. It should all be done in person, they probably all know each other which is the key to this, they're less likely to fight and more likely to come to some common agreement.

The regional council

The next step is for each local council to send a representative to a regional council. Again they're going to have to vote to select a member of their group to go forward as a representative.

You're introducing democracy by stages

It's flawed, but it doesn't tread on the toes of the real power brokers in the country, yet. Your councils are dealing with the drains and the roads and the waste, the little things that don't make money that big players think are beneath them but that local people care about.

You slowly give the councils more responsibilities, specifically not powers, but with great responsibility comes great power. Eventually the councils are running the country. It's time for a national council. In due course you allow people other than the wealthy land owners and heads of households to vote, but don't rush these things. Power should remain with the traditionally powerful until it's too late.

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Unfortunately your father just died of a heart attack early this morning and now it appears you are the dictator in charge of your country

Appearances can be deceptive. :-)

You might discover that you are a dictator dependent on the support of e.g. the army (or worse). That's pretty common as a pattern, and that would complicate moving to a democracy because what you want and what you can get are not your own choice alone.

Of course, in a sense, you have a democracy. Alright, it might be a small democracy with only those people of rank 2 star general (or above) able to "vote", but nonetheless it's a start. :-)

Your not really cut out to be a dictator

Then there's a good chance you'll be "cut out" of being a dictator. Time to let those gene's kick in and let's hope you got the right (or wrong) genes for the job or, well, retirement is an option to mention to the generalissimos.

Now you are in the position to do something about it.

Cough with your blessing generals. :-)

You're committed to fixing things by ending the dictatorship and setting up a democracy so the people can rule themselves and hopefully create a more fair society for everyone, and of course save you all the work of ruling.

Because being prime minister is less work than being dictator ? Don't think Theresa May would agree with that. :-)

Dictator : "ask" = "done, no problemo".

Prime Minister : "ask" = "have to shout over the idiots (sorry, cabinet) just to be heard asking."

Cured of democracy yet ? You soon will be.

Anyone can be a dictator, but being a democrat is really gawd awful.

Trying to set up a democracy sounds like it would take allot of work and planning, and while your pretty intelligent you have to admit you never had a knack for that sort of large scale organization, or politics in general to be honest. Your not really sure how to go about making arrangements for such a radical change in power.

I am happy to inform you that, dictator or not, your late Father (the Iron Fist in the Iron Glove), will have no end of ambitious and possibly even talented advisors and bureaucrats and lawyers happy to advise you.

And then there's the generalissimos to "offer advice". :-)

Your first step is then an obvious one :

  • Execute the generalissimos, advisors and lawyers. The bureaucrats will do what they're told ( the lawyers would too, but, me, I hate lawyers and now is the chance to get some payback :-) ).

So fast you'll barely have time to mop up the blood (there are companies that do this for you) new advisors and lawyers will appear, and a lot of very happy and loyal (or their families get to hear about it) newly promoted generals are in place, along with their new radio controlled exploding collars. Just in case they don't like their families.

Yeah, I haven't forgotten the democracy thing. Bare with me ...

Your new lawyers and advisors and freshly motivated bureaucrats will now begin working on drafting that new constitution (see I remembered) and plans for a referendum and parliament and some law reforms. Maybe some draft docs about retirement funds for former dictators would be useful too.

So we delegate the whole planning and, you should pardon the expression, execution parts of the democracy thing.

Probably useful to form a people's advisory council now. No, wait, that could look like communism and we know that doesn't work so good. Have to wait a bit. For the plans and the executions to take place, as it were.

And then there is the problem with your father's 'advisors'.

Way ahead of ya, there pal. :-)

Your pretty sure you could get some support form other countries like the USA or the UK to do this, they may even finally remove all those trade sanctions once you start to transition the goverment, you just need to figure out how to start the process without getting your own countries leadership too upset with you...

You need RCEC.

Radio. Controlled. Explosive. Collars.

That should keep the "leadership" pretty much in their place for a while. At least the ones who didn't take the hint when the lawyers, advisors and generalissimos got shot (or whatever method the "dice" came up with :-) ).

No problem there.

But let's "nationalize" their assets just in case.

You would like to arrange for the transition to leave you with a decent lifestyle afterwards, even if not as flamboyant as it was in your father's day, ideally one where you don't have to be involved in politics ever again!

Absolutely. 100% fair and reasonable. A slice of those nationalized assets transferred to a nice overseas bank account or two look about right. Who could object ? Cough.

Of course people can turn nasty, so lets make sure that we convert those to, you know, easily "secured" forms of wealth to avoid any confusion. Hey, let's not make a mess for anyone else and let's make sure they're untraceable forms of wealth so there aren't any silly arguments later on.

And maybe burn the records, just to avoid later hassle and squabbling.

And we are, I assure you, getting ever closer to a full democracy.

So, how should you set about changing the goverment, without revolutions and all that nasty violence and bloodshed, especially without your blood being shed?

I say this with enormous sadness, but alas we were unable to completely avoid bloodshed.

But it's all a question of whose blood, isn't it ?

Look, you can let the lawyers live if you're feeling squeamish about this.

Your problem here is simple : the former power holders aren't the type to go quietly and you've already got the infrastructure for making them go noisily in place, so may as well use it.

It's all for a good cause and never mind that "Road to Hell paved with good intentions" nonsense - that's what people in the generalissimos' cells say. We do plan to live to retire, right ? :-)

For this question assume an alternate world almost identical to ours, with the only differences being the presence of your small dictatorship. The leaders of other countries that may get involved would be ruled by some general president/prime minister/whatever rather then the specific leaders in power today; in fact I'm open to adjusting political affiliation and general policies of various leaders as necessary to server the plot.

( "General President" - took the words out of my mount. :-)

If history tells us anything it's that inviting other countries in to "help transition power" is another way of transferring power to a creep working for an entirely different country. Or to wind up with a civil war, which is a tad antisocial IMHO. Let's not do that.

So a day (or week, "tops") of bloody removals from offices, followed by some quick work with a mop, bucket and disinfectant and you'll be mere months away from getting that new constitution and that election to the new parliament.

And of course you'll need to stay on a short while to ensure the whole thing goes well. And maybe you should ensure the constitution allows you to maintain a little control just in case your guidance and inspiration is needed a little longer.

And what if people really screw up and you just have to step back in to power, for their own good ? I mean, just in case, to be socially responsible, we need to have the option there.

It's only common sense !

And parliament probably shouldn't get full control too soon. After all, people aren't properly educated and used to democracy. It needs a transition period. And we shouldn't rush this - slow and steady wins the race !

So, once you're completely satisfied the whole democracy thing is working the way you want, you can retire to Scotland, which you inexplicably bought with your (generously donated) retirement fund.

Oh yeah, don't forget to deactivate those RCECs on your way out of the country. Or if you think it's more efficient you could, you know, activate them. Dealer's choice.

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  • $\begingroup$ Bravo, bravisimo! $\endgroup$ – Gustavo Aug 1 '18 at 17:52
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1.- SECRET POLICE

You need to protect yourself first. Reform or create a secret police that only responds to you and it's above everyone else in grade. Target a few low ranking officers and a powerfull one, make their whole family dissapear (even the pets), that would cement the terror to keep everyone thinking there is eyes looking for them.

2.- AUTONOMOUS STATES

Letting people choose their own leaders it's dangerous, they can pick someone greedy enough to challenge you, so idealy you would start for making them choose between hand picked candidates that you can control or remove without issues. I would put them in charge for a year tops and call in for new elections. At the third year I would start accepting open campaings from the citizens, making the least powerfull states be the first in the transition.

3.- DEMILITARIZATION

People with guns have power, you need to reduce this power to avoid posible struggle in the change of goverment. Reduce the use of armed forces in control mechanics and start with farming/Health/Infraestructure proyects to reduce the armed pool of your generals as you feed personal to this new endeavors. Remove from the budget any contract for ammunition and make live ammunition drills a week event to try to burn out the actual stockpile.

4.- IMPROVE LIFE CONDITIONS

This part it's really hard to balance, since you need to keep the population still under control while you give them economic power. I would concentrate in the surplus of basic needs first, food, water, shelter and health by giving subsidies to anyone trying to create a bussinees in those markets.

5.- PROTECT RIGHTS

This needs to go in hand with the point above, people wouldn't risk investing any money or time if there is a chance that the government can come in and take it all. You need to enforce that people would own what they bought and you would protect them and their stuff over everything.

6.- CLEANING CORRUPTION

There is corruption everywhere, but usually when people tends to figth for survival in a daily basis, morals and ethics are cast away. And this is the perfect place to see corruption spread in everything people touch. This would be the hardest part to address, deppending in how much time people has being living under this conditions it would become part of their culture and removing it would be the hardest part of all. I have no idea how this could be achieve, but usually with a strong a fast legal solution, after all the points above are being resolved could naturaly fall back in line.

After this points are achieve probably 10 years in the future, you would call all your governors to choose someone among them to carry your dutys while in "sick" leave while under the table you dissolve your secret police in acid if possible.

7.- DYING

You need to die, or atleast the dictator. So people wouldn't look for you after the new elections, since to let them get to this point would have leave an important number of bodys and people claiming for your blood.

Make the presidential plane explote in middle of the occean while returning from your doctors. While you stay in your Manhattan floor watching the news.

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Those advisors?

Those traitors!!

That's why you made purges! So you carefully try to fly some proposals, 1 on 1. Those who show an open mind get to stay. Those who oppose, turns out you found dirt on them. And if dirt isn't found, you dig deeper, and dirt will be found. And you hang the traitor!

Then you make a grand charade, on how they always list you on TOP 20 places to avoid. DSOllens-land is the best country!

And commit to improve by the end of this decade, to be in the top 10 places to live. Come hell of high water, it will be done.

And ruthlessly make everyone follow. You will be improving your citizens lives, not because you secretly care, but because no one mocks Dsollen!

All your subjects will stand in awe, of your power, your unquestioned rule. Those who may oppose will be questioned by outsiders to forestall a great improvement for the country, those who help, are to be lauded as loyal subjects who follow every command.

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