A corporatocracy is a system of government in which a corporation, group of corporations or entities run by corporations control the direction and governance of a country, either directly or indirectly. Although there officially are no true corporatocracies in the world, many people often criticize governments for being de facto corporatocracies that are heavily influenced by corporations. Proving that a government actually is a corporatocracy likely would be difficult, however, so this concept is mainly discussed in the circles of critics, political analysts and conspiracy theorists.
Many governments in places where the economic systems are based on free enterprise have been accused of being corporatocracies. In fact, many corporations contribute significant amounts of money to certain political candidates and causes. In many people's minds, this creates a sense of debt that the politician is obliged to pay back in the form of political favors.
Adding to this mind-set is the fact that many corporations often give money to competing political parties and candidates. This is seen as those corporations hedging their bets on the outcome of an election and trying to get on the good side of whichever candidate is elected into office. Some people believe that this is one of the hallmarks of a corporatocracy.
Other people believe that the term "corporatocracy" should not be used, because corporations are primarily conceptual entities that possess no real power. In fact, some people argue, it is the people behind those corporations who hold the power and exercise their influence. In that sense, a corporatocracy is nothing more than a democracy in which people are fighting for their best interests.
Those who dismiss the idea of a corporatocracy often argue the only way to have one would be if a government made it legal to buy a politician's vote. In such a way, the corporation would, in fact, have a direct vote on major policy matters. All true democracies, however, have made it illegal to buy votes.
People who believe that there might, indeed, be corporatocracies argue that no one individual or group of individuals should have that much influence over a government. Further, they argue that the decisions on what to push for and whom to support are made by a relatively few people inside the corporation, rather than all of its employees and shareholders. Therefore, although thousands of people might make up a corporation, only a few of them have the power to speak for the corporation and advocate issues on behalf of the corporation.
Further, many people believe that it does not take an overt effort to buy a politician's vote. Making a substantial contribution to a certain politician's campaign could be seen as sending a signal to that politician that the money is there if he or she votes in a way that the corporation desires. Conversely, the money could be donated to an opponent if the vote does not go the corporation's way. In this way, buying a vote can be accomplished without ever making any demands, according to people who believe that corporatocracies exist.