What is the difference between democratic and non-democratic elections?

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Democracies hold democratic elections. Authoritarian governments hold non-democratic elections. A "real" election is only possible in a democracy. Non-democratic elections are often used to prop up a dictatorship by giving it a false sense of legitimacy. There are some governments that include both democratic and non-democratic features.

Real democracies include freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Citizens in democracies are free to criticize their country's leaders without fear of retribution. In non-democratic countries, critics are often imprisoned or even killed. And in democracies, newspapers must be able to report on current events freely without government censorship.

Real democracies hold free and competitive elections. Voters must have real choices and the candidates they choose must actually take office. Voters' ballots must be confidential.

A quick analysis of the world map at Freedom House shows where democratic elections take place. Most of Europe holds democratic...

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