People's democracy is the term that has been applied to several countries by Soviet communists and their allies to describe the transitional stage of a society from capitalism to socialism during or immediately after the assumption of power by themselves. While having a basic system for mass participation in public affairs this would not include democratic elections. Western observers often feel these "democracies" are in no way democratic.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, the term was removed from the official titles of almost all countries that had previously used it.
Mao Tse-Tung defined people's democracy as follows:
- "You are dictatorial." My dear sirs, you are right, that is just what we are. All the experience the Chinese people have accumulated through several decades teaches us to enforce the people's democratic dictatorship, that is, to deprive the reactionaries of the right to speak and let the people alone have that right.
- "Who are the people?" At the present stage in China, they are the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie. These classes, led by the working class and the Communist Party unite to form their own state and elect their own government they enforce their dictatorship over the running dogs of imperialism - the landlord class and bureaucrat bourgeoisie, as well as the representatives of those classes, the Kuomintang reactionaries and their accomplices - suppress them, allow them only to behave themselves and not to be unruly in word or deed. If they speak or act in an unruly way, they will be promptly stopped and punished. Democracy is practiced within the ranks of the people, who enjoy the rights of freedom of speech, assembly, association and so on. The right to vote belongs only to the people, not to the reactionaries. The combination of these two aspects, democracy for the people and dictatorship over the reactionaries, is the people's democratic dictatorship.
- "People's Democracy", Crystal Reference Encyclopedia. Accessed 23 December 2007