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A coup d'état ( // ( listen ); French for "blow of state") or coup is the removal and seizure of a government and its powers. Typically, it is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a political faction, the military, or a dictator. Many scholars consider a coup successful when the usurpers seize and hold power for at least seven days.
The term comes from French coup d'état, literally meaning a "stroke of state" or "blow of state." [eta] ) is capitalized when it denotes a sovereign political entity.In French, the word État (French:
Although the concept of a coup d'état has featured in politics since antiquity, the phrase is of relatively recent coinage;the Oxford English Dictionary identifies it as a French expression meaning a "stroke of state." The phrase did not appear within an English text before the 19th century except when used in translation of a French source, there being no simple phrase in English to convey the contextualized idea of a 'knockout blow to the existing administration within a state'.
One early use within text translated from French was in 1785 in a printed translation of a letter from a French merchant, commenting on an arbitrary decree or arrêt issued by the French king restricting the import of British wool.What may be its first published use within a text composed in English is an editor's note in the London Morning Chronicle , 7 January 1802, reporting the arrest by Napoleon in France, of Moreau, Berthier, Masséna, and Bernadotte: "There was a report in circulation yesterday of a sort of coup d'état having taken place in France, in consequence of some formidable conspiracy against the existing government."
In British Propaganda, the phrase came to be used to describe the various murders by Napoleon's alleged secret police, the Gens d'Armes d'Elite , who executed the Duke of Enghien: "the actors in torture, the distributors of the poisoning draughts, and the secret executioners of those unfortunate individuals or families, whom Bonaparte's measures of safety require to remove. In what revolutionary tyrants call grand[s] coups d'état, as butchering, or poisoning, or drowning, en masse, they are exclusively employed."
Putsch ([pʊtʃ]), from Swiss-German "knock," is another word for coup, used for the 1920 Kapp Putsch and other coups in Weimar Germanysuch as the Küstrin Putsch and the failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch by Adolf Hitler. The 1961 Algiers Putsch also uses the term.
In German, the term was initially coined for the Züriputsch of 6 September 1839 in Switzerland; putsch denotes the politico-military actions of an unsuccessful minority reactionary coup.
During the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, putsch was used as disinformation by Hitler and other Nazi party members to falsely claim that they had to suppress a reactionary coup. Germans still use the term Röhm-Putsch to describe the event, the term given to it by the Nazi regime, despite the unproven implication that the murders were necessary to prevent a coup. Thus, German authors often use quotation marks or write about the sogenannter Röhm-Putsch ('so-called Röhm Putsch') for emphasis.
Pronunciamiento ("pronouncement") is a term of Spanish origin for a special type of coup d'état. The pronunciamiento is the formal explanation for deposing the regnant government, justifying the installation of the new government that was effected with the golpe de estado. A "barracks revolt" or cuartelazo is also a term for military revolt, from the Spanish term cuartel ("quarter" or "barracks"). Specific military garrisons are the sparking factor for a larger military revolt against the government.
One author makes a distinction between a coup and a pronunciamiento. In a coup, it is the military, paramilitary, or opposing political faction that deposes the current government and assumes power; whereas, in the pronunciamiento, the military deposes the existing government and installs an ostensibly civilian government.
Since the twentieth century, an increasing proliferation of terms has arisen to describe various kinds of actual or attempted unilateral seizures of power. These phenomena, sometimes called "coups with adjectives", include:
The question of which term, if any, is applicable to a given political event can be a subjective matter, and carries normative, analytical, and political implications.
According to Clayton Thyne and Jonathan Powell's coup dataset, there were 457 coup attempts from 1950 to 2010, of which 227 (49.7%) were successful and 230 (50.3%) were unsuccessful. –2010, a majority of coups failed in the Middle East and Latin America. They had a somewhat higher chance of success in Africa and Asia. Numbers of successful coups have decreased over time. Coups occurring in the post-Cold War period have been more likely to result in democratic systems than pre-Cold War coups, though coups still mostly perpetuate authoritarianism. Coups that occur during civil wars shorten the war's duration. Research suggests that protests spur coups, as they help elites within the state apparatus to coordinate coups.They find that coups have "been most common in Africa and the Americas (36.5% and 31.9%, respectively). Asia and the Middle East have experienced 13.1% and 15.8% of total global coups, respectively. Europe has experienced by far the fewest coup attempts: 2.6%." Most coup attempts occurred in the mid-1960s, but there were also large numbers of coup attempts in the mid-1970s and the early-1990s. From 1950
A 2016 study categorizes coups into four possible outcomes:
The study also found that about half of all coups—both during and after the Cold War—install new autocratic regimes.New dictatorships launched by coups engage in higher levels of repression in the year that follows the coup than existed in the year leading to the coup. One-third of coups during the Cold War and 10% of post-Cold War coups reshuffled the regime leadership. Democracies were installed in the wake of 12% of Cold War coups and 40% of post-Cold War coups.
A 2003 review of the academic literature found that the following factors were associated with coups:
The literature review in a 2016 study includes mentions of ethnic factionalism, supportive foreign governments, leader inexperience, slow growth, commodity price shocks, and poverty.
The cumulative number of coups is a strong predictor of future coups.Hybrid regimes are more vulnerable to coups than are very authoritarian states or democratic states. A 2015 study finds that terrorism is strongly associated with re-shuffling coups. A 2016 study finds that there is an ethnic component to coups: "When leaders attempt to build ethnic armies, or dismantle those created by their predecessors, they provoke violent resistance from military officers." Another 2016 study shows that protests increase the risk of coups, presumably because they ease coordination obstacles among coup plotters and make international actors less likely to punish coup leaders. A third 2016 study finds that coups become more likely in the wake of elections in autocracies when the results reveal electoral weakness for the incumbent autocrat. A fourth 2016 study finds that inequality between social classes increases the likelihood of coups. A fifth 2016 study finds no evidence that coups are contagious; one coup in a region does not make other coups in the region likely to follow. One study found that coups are more likely to occur in states with small populations, as there are smaller coordination problems for coup-plotters.
A 2017 study found that autocratic leaders whose states were involved in international rivalries over disputed territory were more likely to be overthrown in a coup. The authors of the study provide the following logic for why this is: "Autocratic incumbents invested in spatial rivalries need to strengthen the military in order to compete with a foreign adversary. The imperative of developing a strong army puts dictators in a paradoxical situation: to compete with a rival state, they must empower the very agency—the military—that is most likely to threaten their own survival in office."However, two 2016 studies found that leaders who were involved in militarized confrontations and conflicts were less likely to face a coup.
A 2018 study found that coup attempts were less likely in states where the militaries derived significant incomes from peacekeeping missions.The study argued that militaries were dissuaded from staging coups because they feared that the UN would no longer enlist the military in peacekeeping missions.
A 2018 study found that "oil price shocks are seen to promote coups in onshore-intensive oil countries, while preventing them in offshore-intensive oil countries."The study argues that states which have onshore oil wealth tend to build up their military to protect the oil, whereas states do not do that for offshore oil wealth.
A 2018 study found that the presence of military academies were linked to coups. The authors argue that military academies make it easier for military officers to plan coups, as the schools build networks among military officers.
A 2019 study found that states that had recently signed civil war peace agreements were much more likely to experience coups, in particular when those agreements contained provisions that jeopardized the interests of the military.
A 2019 study found that regional rebellions made coups by the military more likely.
A 2019 study found that when civilian elites are polarized and electoral competition is low, civilian-recruited coups become more likely.
A 2020 study found that elections had a two-sided impact on coup attempts, depending on the state of the economy. During periods of economic expansion, elections reduced the likelihood of coup attempts, whereas elections during economic crises increased the likelihood of coup attempts.
A 2021 study found that oil wealthy nations see a pronounced risk of coup attempts but these coups are unlikely to succeed.
In autocracies, the frequency of coups seems to be affected by the succession rules in place, with monarchies with a fixed succession rule being much less plagued by instability than less institutionalized autocracies.
In what is referred to as "coup-proofing," regimes create structures that make it hard for any small group to seize power. These coup-proofing strategies may include the strategic placing of family, ethnic, and religious groups in the military; creation of an armed force parallel to the regular military; and development of multiple internal security agencies with overlapping jurisdiction that constantly monitor one another.Research shows that some coup-proofing strategies reduce the risk of coups occurring. However, coup-proofing reduces military effectiveness, and limits the rents that an incumbent can extract.
A 2016 study shows that the implementation of succession rules reduce the occurrence of coup attempts.Succession rules are believed to hamper coordination efforts among coup plotters by assuaging elites who have more to gain by patience than by plotting.
According to political scientists Curtis Bell and Jonathan Powell, coup attempts in neighbouring countries lead to greater coup-proofing and coup-related repression in a region.A 2017 study finds that countries' coup-proofing strategies are heavily influenced by other countries with similar histories.
A 2018 study in the Journal of Peace Research found that leaders who survive coup attempts and respond by purging known and potential rivals are likely to have longer tenures as leaders.A 2019 study in Conflict Management and Peace Science found that personalist dictatorships are more likely to take coup-proofing measures than other authoritarian regimes; the authors argue that this is because "personalists are characterized by weak institutions and narrow support bases, a lack of unifying ideologies and informal links to the ruler."
Research suggests that coups promoting democratization in staunchly authoritarian regimes have become less likely to end democracy over time, and that the positive influence has strengthened since the end of the Cold War.
A 2014 study found that "coups promote democratization, particularly among states that are least likely to democratize otherwise".The authors argue that coup attempts can have this consequence because leaders of successful coups have incentives to democratize quickly in order to establish political legitimacy and economic growth, while leaders who stay in power after failed coup attempts see it as a sign that they must enact meaningful reforms to remain in power. A 2014 study found that 40% of post-Cold War coups were successful. The authors argue that this may be due to the incentives created by international pressure. A 2016 study found that democracies were installed in 12% of Cold War coups and 40% of the post-Cold War coups. A 2020 study found that coups tended to lead to increases in state repression, not reductions.
According to a 2020 study, "external reactions to coups play important roles in whether coup leaders move toward authoritarianism or democratic governance. When supported by external democratic actors, coup leaders have an incentive to push for elections to retain external support and consolidate domestic legitimacy. When condemned, coup leaders are apt to trend toward authoritarianism to assure their survival."
According to legal scholar Ilya Somin a coup to forcibly overthrow democratic government might be sometimes justified. He wrote:
There should be a strong presumption against forcibly removing a democratic regime. But that presumption might be overcome if the government in question poses a grave threat to human rights, or is likely to destroy democracy itself by shutting down future political competition.
According to Naunihal Singh, author of Seizing Power: The Strategic Logic of Military Coups (2014), it is "fairly rare" for the prevailing existing government to violently purge the army after a coup has been foiled. If it starts the mass killing of elements of the army, including officers who were not involved in the coup, this may trigger a "counter-coup" by soldiers who are afraid they will be next. To prevent such a desperate counter-coup that may be more successful than the initial attempt, governments usually resort to firing prominent officers and replacing them with loyalists instead.
Some research suggests that increased repression and violence typically follow both successful and unsuccessful coup attempts.However, some tentative analysis by political scientist Jay Ulfelder finds no clear pattern of deterioration in human rights practices in wake of failed coups in post-Cold War era.
Notable counter-coups include the Ottoman countercoup of 1909, the 1960 Laotian counter-coup, the Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66, the 1966 Nigerian counter-coup, the 1967 Greek counter-coup, 1971 Sudanese counter-coup, and the Coup d'état of December Twelfth in South Korea.
A 2017 study finds that the use of state broadcasting by the putschist regime after Mali's 2012 coup did not elevate explicit approval for the regime.
According to a 2019 study, coup attempts lead to a reduction in physical integrity rights.
The international community tends to react adversely to coups by reducing aid and imposing sanctions. A 2015 study finds that "coups against democracies, coups after the Cold War, and coups in states heavily integrated into the international community are all more likely to elicit global reaction."Another 2015 study shows that coups are the strongest predictor for the imposition of democratic sanctions. A third 2015 study finds that Western states react strongest against coups of possible democratic and human rights abuses. A 2016 study shows that the international donor community in the post-Cold War period penalizes coups by reducing foreign aid. The US has been inconsistent in applying aid sanctions against coups both during the Cold War and post-Cold War periods, a likely consequence of its geopolitical interests.
Organizations such as the African Union (AU) and the Organization of American States (OAS) have adopted anti-coup frameworks. Through the threat of sanctions, the organizations actively try to curb coups. A 2016 study finds that the AU has played a meaningful role in reducing African coups.
A 2017 study found that negative international responses, especially from powerful actors, have a significant effect in shortening the duration of regimes created in coups.
According to a 2020 study, coups increase the cost of borrowing and increase the likelihood of sovereign default.
|Position||Post-coup leader||Deposed leader||Country||Event||Date|
|President||Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo||Francisco Macías Nguema||Equatorial Guinea||1979 Equatorial Guinean coup d'état||3 August 1979|
|President||Yoweri Museveni||Tito Okello||Uganda||Ugandan Bush War||29 January 1986|
|President||Idriss Déby||Hissène Habré||Chad||Chadian revolution||2 December 1990|
|President||Emomali Rahmon||Rahmon Nabiyev||Tajikistan||Tajikistani Civil War||19 November 1992|
|Prime Minister||Hun Sen||Norodom Ranariddh||Cambodia||1997 Cambodian coup d'état||August 1997|
|President||Denis Sassou Nguesso||Pascal Lissouba||Congo||Republic of the Congo Civil War||25 October 1997|
|Prime Minister||Frank Bainimarama||Laisenia Qarase||Fiji||2006 Fijian coup d'état||5 December 2006|
|President||Abdel Fattah el-Sisi||Mohamed Morsi||Egypt||2013 Egyptian coup d'état||3 July 2013|
|Prime Minister||Prayut Chan-o-cha||Yingluck Shinawatra||Thailand||2014 Thai coup d'état||22 May 2014|
|President of the Supreme Political Council||Mahdi al-Mashat||Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi||Yemen||2014–15 Yemeni coup d'état||6 February 2015|
|President||Emmerson Mnangagwa||Robert Mugabe||Zimbabwe||2017 Zimbabwean coup d'état||24 November 2017|
|Chairman of the Sovereignty Council||Abdel Fattah al-Burhan||Omar al-Bashir||Sudan||2019 Sudanese coup d'état||21 August 2019|
|Prime Minister||Muhyiddin Yassin||Mahathir Mohamad||Malaysia|| 2020 Malaysian political crisis |
|24 February 2020|
|President||Bah Ndaw||Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta||Mali||2020 Malian coup d'état||19 August 2020|
|Chairman of the State Administration Council||Min Aung Hlaing||Aung San Suu Kyi||Myanmar||2021 Myanmar coup d'état||1 February 2021|
A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country. The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region or to change government policies. The term is a calque of Latin bellum civile which was used to refer to the various civil wars of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC.
A dictatorship is a form of government characterized by a single leader or group of leaders and little or no toleration for political pluralism or independent media. According to other definitions, democracies are a form of government in which "those who govern are selected through contested elections"; therefore, dictatorships are "not democracies".
In political science, a revolution is a fundamental and relatively sudden change in political power and political organization which occurs when the population revolts against the government, typically due to perceived oppression or political incompetence. In book V of the Politics, the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle described two types of political revolution:
An alliance is a relationship among people, groups, or states that have joined together for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out among them. Members of an alliance are called allies. Alliances form in many settings, including political alliances, military alliances, and business alliances. When the term is used in the context of war or armed struggle, such associations may also be called allied powers, especially when discussing World War I or World War II.
Mass killing is a concept proposed by genocide scholars to define incidents of non-combat killing by government or state. A mass killing, as defined by Ervin Staub, is "killing members of a group without the intention to eliminate the whole group or killing large numbers of people without a precise definition of group membership."
Regime change is the replacement of one government regime with another. Use of the term dates to at least 1925. Regime change may replace all or part of the state's most critical leadership system, administrative apparatus, or bureaucracy.
Democratization, or democratisation, is the transition to a more democratic political regime, including substantive political changes moving in a democratic direction. It may be the transition from an authoritarian regime to a full democracy, a transition from an authoritarian political system to a semi-democracy or transition from a semi-authoritarian political system to a democratic political system.
The democratic peace theory posits that democracies are hesitant to engage in armed conflict with other identified democracies. Among proponents of the democratic peace theory, several factors are held as motivating peace between democratic states:
The resource curse, also known as the paradox of plenty or the poverty paradox, is the phenomenon of countries with an abundance of natural resources having less economic growth, less democracy, or worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. There are many theories and much academic debate about the reasons for, and exceptions to, these adverse outcomes. Most experts believe the resource curse is not universal or inevitable, but affects certain types of countries or regions under certain conditions.
The People's Progressive Party is a political party in the Gambia. It was the dominant ruling party of the House of Representatives and the presidency from 1962 to 1994. The president throughout this time period was Dawda Jawara. The People's Progressive Party lost power after the 1994 Gambian coup d'état, a military coup led by young, junior military officers. The Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) then became the dominant party of the Gambia. The People's Progressive Party remains active, but lacking the same level of support it garnered in the 20th century.
Militarized interstate disputes (MIDs) are conflicts between states that do not involve a full-scale war. A conflict is described as an MID all instances of when one state threatened, displayed, or used force against another. This can be as little as a military display of force with no deaths. Under this definition, over 2,000 MIDs have been identified since 1816 in the Correlates of War project.
"Long Peace" is a term for the unprecedented historical period following the end of World War II in 1945 to the present day. The period of the Cold War (1945–1991) was marked by the absence of major wars between the great powers of the period, the United States and the Soviet Union. First recognized in 1986, the period of "relative peace" has been compared to the relatively-long stability of the Roman Empire, the Pax Romana, in Europe.
The 1976 Argentine coup d'état was a right-wing coup that overthrew Isabel Perón as President of Argentina on 24 March 1976. A military junta was installed to replace her; this was headed by Lieutenant General Jorge Rafael Videla, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera and Brigadier-General Orlando Ramón Agosti. The political process initiated on 24 March 1976 took the official name of "National Reorganization Process", and the junta, although not with its original members, remained in power until the return to the democratic process on 10 December 1983. Given the systematic persecution of a social minority, the period has been classified as a genocidal process. This has been established in the sentences of trials for crimes against humanity.
Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by the rejection of political plurality, the use of a strong central power to preserve the political status quo, and reductions in the rule of law, separation of powers, and democratic voting. Political scientists have created many typologies describing variations of authoritarian forms of government. Authoritarian regimes may be either autocratic or oligarchic in nature and may be based upon the rule of a party or the military.
The Red Shirts are a political movement in Thailand, formed following the 2006 coup d'état against then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Originally synonymous with the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), a group formed to protest the coup and military government, the movement has since expanded to include various groups with diverse political priorities. Its members range from left-wing and/or liberal activists and academics to the large number of Thaksin's rural and working-class supporters. The movement emerged as the result of socioeconomic changes in Northeast Thailand in the 1990s and 2000s, including a growing middle class, rising aspirations, and an increasing awareness of the extreme inequality and of the fundamentally weak democracy in Thailand, typified by Thailand's primate city problem. Red Shirts group dynamics center on frustrated economic and political aspirations to improve democracy and overcome inequality, which contributed to the 2009 Thai political unrest and the 2010 Thai political protests, as well as shared suffering at the hand of the ruling class hegemony. As with other minorities, the Red Shirts have been dehumanized and demonized, and their claims for transitional justice following the 2010 Thai military crackdown have been subverted by the Thai state.
Anocracy or semi-democracy is a form of government that is loosely defined as part democracy and part dictatorship, or as a "regime that mixes democratic with autocratic features." Another definition classifies anocracy as "a regime that permits some means of participation through opposition group behavior but that has incomplete development of mechanisms to redress grievances." The term "semi-democratic" is reserved for stable regimes that combine democratic and authoritarian elements. Scholars have also distinguished anocracies from autocracies and democracies in their capability to maintain authority, political dynamics, and policy agendas. Similarly, the regimes have democratic institutions that allow for nominal amounts of competition.
In the 1994 Gambian coup d'état, a group of soldiers led by 29-year-old Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh seized power in a bloodless coup d'état on the morning of 22 July, ousting Dawda Jawara, who had been President of the Gambia since its independence in 1970.
Naunihal Singh is an American political scientist. He is the author of Seizing Power: The Strategic Logic of Military Coups (2014) and serves as Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College.
The Logic of Political Survival is a 2003 non-fiction book co-written by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith, Randolph M. Siverson, and James D. Morrow, published by MIT Press. It discusses the selectorate theory of politics.
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