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

Maritime Piracy 2014

The State of Maritime Piracy 2014

Written by Conor Seyle, Matthew R. Walje, Kellie Brandt, Peter Kerins, Megan Matthews, Tyler Maybee on June 10, 2015

This report is the fifth in a series by Oceans Beyond Piracy with support from OEF Research.These reports annually seek to assess the cost of maritime piracy - both economic and human - to the international community.

Read more
Social evolution

Social evolution in the shadow of asymmetrical relatedness

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp, Peter D. Taylor on April 29, 2015

The persistence of altruism and spite remains an enduring problem of social evolution.

Read more
Renewable Energy In Somalia

Powering Progress: The Potential Of Renewable Energy In Somalia

Written by Jami Nelson Nuñez on March 4, 2015

This report describes the evolving landscape of energy in the country and outlines the burden of limited electricity services and extremely high tariffs on households, businesses, and the environment.

Read more
Private Sector and Business role in atrocity crimes

The Role of Business in the Responsibility to Protect

Written by One Earth Future on December 19, 2014

This policy brief is based on “The Role of Business in the Responsibility to Protect,” a chapter which appeared in The Responsibility to Protect and the Third Pillar: Legitimacy and Operationalization.

Read more
L. Heger in Journal of Peace Research

Votes and violence: Pursuing terrorism while navigating politics

Written by Lindsay Heger on December 5, 2014

Many of the world’s most infamous terrorist organizations demonstrate clear political aptitude, maintaining highly successful political parties while simultaneously carrying out terrorist attacks.

Read more
A Gap Exists in Research and Implementation

A Gap Exists! (But it is Smaller and More Specific Than You Think)

Written by Chris Cyr, Lindsay Heger on November 7, 2014

In recent decades, many who are involved in international relations and foreign policy have bemoaned the increasing divide between what practitioners do and the issues scholars research.

Read more
Competition and Cooperation in Classroom

Cooperation and Competition in Large Classrooms

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp, Joseph Kim, Peter Taylor, Pat Barclay on October 23, 2014

Instructors of large classes often face challenges with student motivation. The classroom incentive structure – grades, extra credit, and instructor and peer acknowledgement – may shape student motivations to engage in their studies.

Read more

Why Govern? The Strategic, Functional, and Normative Logics of Global Governance

Written by Conor Seyle, Amitav Acharya, Blake Berger, Goueun Lee, Kate Tennis on September 28, 2014

Global governance is one of the most critical subjects in international relations scholarship and policymaking today.

Read more

Pages