Democracy and Coup d’État

Overview:

This article explains coup activity in democracies by adapting insights from the literature on commitment problems and framing coup around the threats leaders and potential coup plotters pose to each other. The author uses several data sets of coup activity and democratic constraints to find significant differences in coup activity between democracies and non-democracies.

Key Findings:

  • Democratic constraints on executive power inhibit a leader’s ability to repress threats from political rivals, which decreases motivations for coups but at the same time makes democracies more vulnerable to coup attempts. 
  • Democracies are about half as likely to use coup-related repression as civilian non-democracies, but they face a similar frequency of coup attempts.
  • Coups attempted against democracies are more likely to succeed. 

Related Publications

United Nations Intervention Good or Bad

The UN Intervention Brigade: Extinguishing Conflict or Adding Fuel to the Flames?

Written by Jay Benson on June 2, 2016

The authorization of the Intervention Brigade (IB) in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has sparked controversy in the international community over the value of such deployments for UN peace operations.

Read more
Renewable Energy in Somalia

Powering Progress II: The Potential of Renewable Energy in Somaliland, Puntland, and South Central Somalia

Written by Kelsey Coolidge, David Poplack on May 9, 2016

This report provides a common operating picture based on diverse information collected from renewable energy experts, development actors, donors, and Somali businesspeople in the traditional and emerging renewable energy market.

Read more
Ecology and Evolution

Causality and the Levels of Selection

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp on March 30, 2016

When is it sensible to say that group selection has shaped organismal design? This question has prompted many replies but few credible solutions. This article provides new work that exposes the causal relationships between phenotypes and fitness.

Read more
Democracies and coups

Why Democratization Does Not Solve the Coup Problem

Written by Curtis Bell, One Earth Future on March 7, 2016

Since the end of the Cold War, the military coup d’état has become the greatest threat to transitional democracies around the world.

Read more
Research Duetting as a Collective Behavior

Duetting as a Collective Behavior

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp on February 5, 2016

Mated birds of many species vocalize together, producing duets. Duetting behavior occurs at two levels of organization: the individual level and the pair level.

Read more
Coups d'Etat and Civil War

When and Why Coups Occur During Civil War

Written by Curtis Bell on January 15, 2016

Coups d’état are frequently both causes and consequences of larger-scale civil wars and rebellions.

Read more
Empirical Trends in Peace

The Century of Peace? Empirical Trends in Peace and Conflict

Written by One Earth Future on November 2, 2015

Is a world without war possible in the 21st century?Trends in armed conflict and a developing body of social scientific research suggest that this idea is plausible.Based on a discussion of high-level experts held in 2014, this report reviews the

Read more
Causes and Outcomes of Coup during Civil War

The Causes and Outcomes of Coup during Civil War

Written by Curtis Bell, Jun Koga Sudduth on October 1, 2015

Though approximately one in four coup attempts takes place during an ongoing civil war, scholars have not yet analyzed how the incidence of civil war affects coup attempts and outcomes.

Read more

Pages