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A coup d'état ( /
The phrase coup d'état comes from French, literally meaning a "stroke of state" or "blow against the state". In French, the word État (French: [eta] ), denoting a sovereign political entity, is capitalized.
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".
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as describing usage in its many variations throughout the world. The second edition, comprising 21,728 pages in 20 volumes, was published in 1989.
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:
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and other animals, including cashmere and mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, from hide and fur clothing from bison, angora from rabbits, and other types of wool from camelids; additionally, the Highland and the Mangalica breeds of cattle and swine, respectively, possess wooly coats.
The Morning Chronicle was a newspaper founded in 1769 in London, England, and published under various owners until 1862, when its publication was suspended, with two subsequent attempts at continued publication. From 28 June 1769 to March 1789 it was published under the name The Morning Chronicle, and London Advertiser. From 1789 to its final publication in 1865, it was published under the name The Morning Chronicle. It was notable for having been the first steady employer of essayist William Hazlitt as a political reporter, and the first steady employer of Charles Dickens as a journalist; for publishing the articles by Henry Mayhew that were collected and published in book format in 1851 as London Labour and the London Poor; and for publishing other major writers, such as John Stuart Mill.
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.
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 post-Revolutionary France, the phrase came to be used to describe the various murders by Napoleon's hated secret police, the Gens d'Armes d'Elite, who murdered the Duke of Enghien:
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
A gendarmerie or gendarmery is a military component with jurisdiction in civil law enforcement. The term gendarme is derived from the medieval French expression gens d'armes, which translates to "armed people". In France and some Francophone nations, the gendarmerie is a branch of the armed forces responsible for internal security in parts of the territory with additional duties as a military police for the armed forces. This concept was introduced to several other Western European countries during the Napoleonic conquests. In the mid twentieth century, a number of former French mandates or colonial possessions such as Lebanon, Syria, and the Republic of the Congo adopted a gendarmerie after independence.
Louis Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien was a relative of the Bourbon monarchs of France. More famous for his death than for his life, he was executed on charges of aiding Britain and plotting against France. Royalty across Europe were shocked and dismayed at his execution. Tsar Alexander I of Russia was especially alarmed, and decided to curb Napoleon's power.
...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.
Clayton Thyne and Jonathan Powell's dataset of coups defines attempted coups as "illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive."They arrive at this definition by combining common definitions in the existing literature, and removing specificities and ambiguities that exist in many definitions.
In looser usage, as in "intelligence coup" or "boardroom coup", the term simply refers to gaining a sudden advantage on a rival.
Since an unsuccessful coup d'état in 1920 (the Kapp Putsch), the Swiss-German word Putsch (pronounced [pʊtʃ] , coined for the Züriputsch of 6 September 1839, in Zurich), also denotes the politico-military actions of an unsuccessful minority reactionary coup.
Other recent and notable unsuccessful minority reactionary coups that are often referred to as Putsches are the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch and Küstrin Putsch, the 1961 Algiers Putsch and the 1991 August Putsch. Putsch was used as disinformation by Hitler and other Nazi party members to falsely claim that he had to suppress a reactionary coup during the Night of the Long Knives. Germans still use the term Röhm-Putsch to describe the murders, the term given to it by the Nazi regime, despite its 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 coup d'état (called golpe de estado in Spanish) was more common in Spain and South America, while the pronunciamiento was more common in Central America and Mexico. 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.
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.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. 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. 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.
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 rejects the notion that participation in war makes coups more likely; on the contrary, coup risk declines in the presence of enduring interstate conflict. A sixth 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 in the journal Security Studies 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, a 2016 study in the journal Conflict Management and Peace Science found that leaders who were involved in militarized confrontations and conflicts were less likely to face a coup in the year following the dispute.
A 2018 study in the Journal of Peace Research 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 in the Economic Journal 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 in the Journal of Conflict Resolution 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 in the Journal of Politics 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.
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.
According to a 2019 study, coup attempts lead to a reduction in physical integrity rights.
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 coup attempts (whether they be successes or failures).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.
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.
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 forthcoming study in the Journal of Conflict Resolution finds that negative international responses to regimes created in coups have a significant influence on the sustainability of those regimes.The study finds that "state reactions have the strongest effect during the Cold War, while international organizations matter the most afterward." Negative international responses from strong actors matter the most.
|Position||Name||Assumed power as of||Replaced||Country||Coup d'état|
|Sultan||Qaboos bin Said al Said||23 July 1970||Said bin Taimur||1970 Omani coup d'état|
|President||Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo||3 August 1979||Francisco Macías Nguema||1979 Equatoguinean coup d'état|
|President||Yoweri Museveni||29 January 1986||Tito Okello||Ugandan Bush War|
|President||Idriss Déby||2 December 1990||Hissène Habré||1990 Chadian revolution|
|President||Emomali Rahmon||19 November 1992||Rahmon Nabiyev||Tajikistani Civil War|
|Prime Minister||Hun Sen||August 1997||Norodom Ranariddh||1997 Cambodian coup d'état|
|President||Denis Sassou Nguesso||25 October 1997||Pascal Lissouba||Republic of the Congo Civil War|
|Prime Minister||Frank Bainimarama||5 December 2006||Laisenia Qarase||2006 Fijian coup d'état|
|President||Abdel Fattah el-Sisi||3 July 2013||Mohamed Morsi||2013 Egyptian coup d'état|
|Prime Minister||Prayut Chan-o-cha||22 May 2014||Yingluck Shinawatra||2014 Thai coup d'état|
|President of the Revolutionary Committee||Mohammed Ali al-Houthi||6 February 2015||Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi||2014–15 Yemeni coup d'état|
|President||Emmerson Mnangagwa||24 November 2017||Robert Mugabe||2017 Zimbabwean coup d'état|
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 the Latin bellum civile which was used to refer to the various civil wars of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC.
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.
Peacekeeping comprises activities intended to create conditions that favour lasting peace. Research generally finds that peacekeeping reduces civilian and battlefield deaths and reduces the risk of renewed warfare.
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.
A military alliance is an international agreement concerning national security in which the contracting parties agree to mutual protection and support in case of a crisis that has not been identified in advance. Military alliances differ from coalitions, which formed for a crisis that already exists.
Democratization 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.
Democratic peace theory is a theory which 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, refers to the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources, tend to have less economic growth, less democracy, and 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.
Interventionism is a policy of non-defensive (proactive) activity undertaken by a nation-state, or other geo-political jurisdiction of a lesser or greater nature, to manipulate an economy and/or society. The most common applications of the term are for economic interventionism, and foreign interventionism.
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.
Conflict resolution is any reduction in the severity of a conflict. It may involve conflict management, in which the parties continue the conflict but adopt less extreme tactics; settlement, in which they reach agreement on enough issues that the conflict stops; or removal of the underlying causes of the conflict. The latter is sometimes called "resolution", in a narrower sense of the term that will not be used in this article. Settlements sometimes end a conflict for good, but when there are deeper issues – such as value clashes among people who must work together, distressed relationships, or mistreated members of one's ethnic group across a border – settlements are often temporary.
"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 USSR. First recognized in 1986, such a period of "relative peace" between major powers has not been documented in human history since the Roman Empire.
James D. Fearon is the Theodore and Francis Geballe Professor of Political Science at Stanford University; he is known for his work on the theory of civil wars, international bargaining, war's inefficiency puzzle and audience costs. According to a 2011 survey of International Relations scholars, Fearon is among the most influential International Relations scholars of the last twenty years.
Conflict trap is a term to describe the pattern when civil wars repeat themselves.
Anocracy is a form of government 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". Scholars have also distinguished anocracies from autocracies and democracies in their capability to maintain authority, political dynamics, and policy agendas. Similarly, these regime types 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 evening of 22 July, ousting Dawda Jawara, who had been President of the Gambia since its independence in 1970.
Séverine Autesserre is a French author and researcher. She writes about war and peace, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her research has influenced policy interventions as well as scholarly debates on peacebuilding and on Congo. She is a Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she specializes in international relations and African studies.
Naunihal Singh is an American political scientist. He is the author of Seizing Power: The Strategic Logic of Military Coups (2015) and serves as Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College.