A totalitarian democracy – although it would make extensive use of coercion to achieve the goals proposed on its political agenda – would try to capture, or, at least, to give the false impression of a widespread popular approval, for the government to acquire the appearance of legitimate ruler of the people. Currently, the Bolivarian government of Venezuela could be properly classified as a good example. Dissidents are never tolerated: they are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and unilaterally categorized as fascists. Only what the government approves is considered correct and appropriate. The government desperately tries to assure to everyone, but especially to the outside world, that it represents the people, and the ones who oppose the government oppose the revolution; so, if they are, by association, enemies of the state, they are enemies of the people. This is pure populist rhetoric and platform, that enables the government to persecute each and every dissident that disagrees with the instituted policies. So, basically, the government doesn’t tolerate any defiance to its absolute power. But its constant prerogative would reside in the false proclamation that they represent the people in power. So their actions are always carried out on behalf of the people, and they represent the will of the people.
It is not that hard to insert or to give a democratic appearance to an otherwise totalitarian government, and this is done mainly by the perception of two major components: the “right to vote” – that serves to legitimize the dictator in power, that always “wins” the elections, and is persistently described as president – and by exercising the total monopoly of culture and information. Whoever manipulates information, has the monopoly of "truth".
Another good example that could be perfectly inserted into this category is Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus since 1994. Technically a dictator, he always wins the periodical elections, and has a system upon which he can maintain absolute power, although the entire political anatomy of the country is disguised as a functional democracy. The total control of government information, however, is guaranteed by brutal repressive agencies, known to kidnap and kill journalists that publish content that are incompatible with the political agenda of the regime, or that publish material considered offensive to Lukashenko, or to the government in general.
That being said, a lot of other former soviet countries follows the same political pattern. Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan are interesting examples of nations that could be categorized as totalitarian democracies.
The culture is an important aspect for a totalitarian regime. As the freedom of artists, journalists and intellectuals is curtailed, they are hunted down by the regime, or coopted to work for the regime, in exchange for money and safety. With support from the cultural elite, it is easier for the government to acquire easily and voluntarily the general support from the population.
As most totalitarian states try to acquire a consistent appearance of democracy, they will manipulate each and every aspect of social interactions, to achieve the results they find would be the more plausible and attractive ones, to elaborate on the appearances they find the more attractive for the regime.
As their efforts go towards the expansion of their basis of popularity, the government will be active in political propaganda. Given the fact that they have to be in a very vigilante state, populism will also help the government to acquire an appearance of massive approval from the society, in general.
But, as I wrote above, totalitarian democracy is a controversial term, that is subject to ongoing debate among political scholars. What defines an autocracy, a dictatorship, a totalitarian regime, or an illiberal democracy are – basically – different perceptions of authoritarianism, and how they interact with the population, and how much of their freedom is actually dissipated.