In (pdf) From Dictatorship to Democracy (fourth edition, 2010, 102 pages), Gene Sharp analyzes the nature of dictatorships and ways to transition to democracy. Gene suggests non-violent protest, which I concur with. He shows the complexities and difficulties on the way. My main objection with his steps to democracy is that it requires a detailed strategic plan at the outset. I don't think that's possible, at least not in the beginning. Maybe after a couple years of struggle, making mistakes and surviving long enough to learn from them... I highly recommend this book. To better understand what a struggle and its hardships look like, read Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
[p.10] ...negotiations are not a realistic way to remove a strong dictatorship in the absence of a powerful democratic opposition.
[p.11] ...the only proper role of negotiations may occur at the end of a decisive struggle in which the power of the dictators has been effectively destroyed and they seek personal safe passage to an international airport.
[p.12] What can each side do at a later date to gain its objectives if the other side fails tocome to an agreement at the negotiating table? What can each side do after an agreement is reached if the other side breaks its word and uses its available forces to seize its objectives despite the agreement? A settlement is not reached in negotiations through an assessment of the rights and wrongs of the issues at stake. While those may be much discussed, the real results in negotiations come from an assessment of the absolute and relative power situations of the contending groups.
[p.13] ...no one should ever forget that the dictators may promise anything to secure submission from their democratic opponents, and then brazenly violate those same agreements... Resistance, not negotiations, is essential for change in conflicts where fundamental issues are at stake. In nearly all cases, resistance must continue to drive dictators out of power.
[p.14] ...political defiance, or nonviolent struggle, is the most powerful means available to those struggling for freedom... Hitler often called for peace, by which he meant submission to his will.
[p.20]: The degree of liberty or tyranny in any government is, it follows, in large degree a reflection of the relative determination of the subjects to be free and their willingness and ability to resist efforts to enslave them.
[p.22] Isolated individuals, not members of such groups [families, clubs, unions etc.], usually are unable to make a significant impact on the rest of the society, much less a government, and certainly not a dictatorship. Consequently, if the autonomy and freedom of such bodies can be taken away by the dictators, the population will be relatively helpless.
[p.27-28] ...despite the appearances of strength, all dictatorships have weaknesses, internal inefficiencies, personal rivalries, institutional inefficiencies, and conflicts between organizations and departments. These weaknesses, over time, tend to make the regime less effective and more vulnerable to changing conditions and deliberate resistance. Not everything the regime sets out to accomplish will get completed. At times, for example, even Hitler’s direct orders were never implemented because those beneath him in the hierarchy refused to carry them out.
[p.28] ...types of struggle that target the dictatorship’s identifiable weaknesses have greater chance of success than those that seek to fight the dictatorship where it is clearly strongest.
[p.31] At times stalling and procrastination may be quietly and even secretly practiced, while at other times open disobedience and defiant public demonstrations and strikes may be visible to all.
[p.32] One may act to protect children from the attackers’ propaganda by education at home or in illegal classes... The similarity of such types of action to people’s usual activities and the limited degree of departure from their normal lives may make participation in the national liberation struggle much easier for many people.
[p.33] ...abandonment or control of fear is a key element in destroying the power of the dictators over the general population.
[p.37] Leaders of a political defiance movement can exert influence and apply pressures on their followers, but they cannot imprison or execute them when they dissent or choose other leaders.
[p.39] While spontaneity has some positive qualities, it has often had disadvantages. Frequently, the democratic resisters have not anticipated the brutalities of the dictatorship, so that they suffered gravely and the resistance has collapsed. At times the lack of planning by democrats has left crucial decisions to chance, with disastrous results. Even when the oppressive system was brought down, lack of planning on how to handle the transition to a democratic system has contributed to the emergence of a new dictatorship.
[p.41] Constantly harassed by the dictatorship, and overwhelmed by immediate responsibilities, resistance leaders often do not have the safety or time to develop strategic thinking skills.
[p.50] The experience of once exercising effective power is not quickly forgot. The knowledge and skill gained in struggle will make the population less likely to be easily dominated by would-be dictators. This shift in power relationships would ultimately make establishment of a durable democratic society much more likely.
[p.64] Defiance strategists should remember that it will be exceptionally difficult, or impossible, to disintegrate the dictatorship if the police, bureaucrats, and military forces remain fully supportive of the dictatorship and obedient in carrying out its commands.
[p.71] It is necessary to calculate what sections of the old governmental structure (as the political police) are to be completely abolished because of their inherent anti-democratic character and which sections retained to be subjected to later democratization efforts. A complete governmental void could open the way to chaos or a new dictatorship.
[p.75] The constitution should set the purposes of government, limits on governmental powers, the means and timing of elections by which governmental officials and legislators will be chosen, the inherent rights of the people, and the relation of the national government to other lower levels of government.
[p.76] The wording of the constitution should be easily understood by the majority of the population. A constitution should not be so complex or ambiguous that only lawyers or other elites can claim to understand it.