This post is dedicated to Neda of Iran.
Many dictatorships around the world like to claim to be democracies. It looks good. It makes your government at least appear less like a sackful of corruption and stupid. And if you can legitimately say you were elected, it deflects much of the criticism of that kind of regime.
Of course, as a dictatorship, such a government does not want to give people any real power, because they'd likely throw you out on your totalitarian ass. So what to do?
Let's say you're the dictator, and let's call your movement the "status quo party", because it's in power. First, announce an election. Then eviscerate all parties other than yours that stand any sort of chance whatsoever. You can do this by outright banning them (they're "cheating," "collaborating with foreign powers," "anti-<your-nation>" or what have you), or killing off their leadership, "disappearing" them, or whatever dirty trick. Then convince all the really pathetic parties to run.
When election day comes, voters have the following ballot:
* Status Quo party
* Incompetence party
* Utterly brain dead party
* Grotesque and evil party
* Obvious Joke party
* Loser party
* Suicide party
* Mandatory Perversion party
Act surprised when they choose your own "Status Quo Party." Likely by a margin exceeding 90%. (Sure, one COULD vote for the Incompetence party to protest, but they're obviously so much worse than the dictator. After all, have you seen how incompetent they are?) The USSR pulled this for years, with the Communist party winning 99.999% of the vote in a completely meaningless election (Since the only other parties allowed to run were the idiot party and the chronic failure party, and no one wanted to vote for that crap.)
Or, you could do like other dictators do and have an election with real political parties, but cheat really severely to make your party win, up to and including voter intimidation, "losing" the ballots from high-your-opponent areas, deliberate miscounts, "disappearing" inconvenient people, and disbanding the entire thing if it doesn't go your way. (Sound familiar?)
This might seem like a lot of work to no useful end, but it's all political theater so that you can cry "But I'm not a dictator, I was fairly elected." when people call you out on being a totalitarian scumbag.