Elections are a tell-tale sign of democracy, but they are also a permanent feature of a dictatorship. In a democratic contest elections are real and indispensable for power. In a dictatorial game “elections” are a deception operation to compel the people to report at the voting booth to cast a vote that matters not because the dictator is always predetermined to win.
That reminds me of an old joke: What’s the difference between American elections and Soviet elections? It’s like the difference between a chair and an electric chair.