Coup d’État and Democracy

  title={Coup d’{\'E}tat and Democracy},
  author={Curtis Bell},
  journal={Comparative Political Studies},
  pages={1167 - 1200}
  • C. Bell
  • Published 17 February 2016
  • Political Science
  • Comparative Political Studies
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. I claim democratic constraints on executive power inhibit a leader’s ability to repress threats from political rivals. Though this decreases motivations for coup attempts, it also makes democracies more vulnerable should a coup attempt occur. Consequently, democratic constraints on executive… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

An assessment of democratic vulnerability: regime type, economic development, and coups d’état

ABSTRACT Prior research has not established a clear relationship between democracy and insulation from coups d’état, with very few studies illustrating robust findings on the subject. I contend that

Institutional Arsenals for Democracy? The Postcoup Effects of Conscript Militaries

Recent years have seen increased study of military coups. While this generally emphasizes coups as a dependent variable, there is a growing debate as to how coups influence a country’s long-term

Give them toys? Military allocations and regime stability in transitional democracies

ABSTRACT In contrast to the conventional wisdom that democratization reduces coups, 46% of coups targeted democracies from 2000–2009, twice the rate seen in the prior half-century. Efforts to explain

No Easy Way Out: The Effect of Military Coups on State Repression

Military coups are often advocated as solutions for ending state-sponsored atrocities. Yet, we know little about coups’ precise consequences. This article estimates the effect of coups on state

Erosion of Civilian Control in Democracies: A Comprehensive Framework for Comparative Analysis

Civilian control of the military is a fundamental attribute of democracy. While democracies are less coup-prone, studies treating civilian control as a dependent variable mostly focus on coups. In

Democratic Breakdown and the Hidden Perils of the Democratic Peace

One empirical regularity in International Relations appears consistent: democracies rarely fight one another. However, this article maintains that the democratic peace comes with hidden costs.

Why do military dictatorships become presidential democracies? Mapping the democratic interests of autocratic regimes

This paper starts with the observation that almost all military dictatorships that democratize become presidential democracies. I hypothesize that military interests are able to coordinate on

The political economy of coups d’etat: a general survey and a local theory for Turkey

ABSTRACT This article surveys the political economy of coups in Turkey, examining both their economic causes and the economic consequences they seem to generate. It reminds that whether coups had a

Between Coups and Election: Constitutional Engineering and Military Entrenchment in Sudan

This article investigates how armies re-entrench their power after thwarting democratic transitions. After the Sudanese military staged a coup in October 2021 and altered the transitional

Deterring threats and settling scores: How coups influence respect for physical integrity rights

Do coups affect patterns of political violence like violations of physical integrity rights? Do these patterns vary depending on whether coups succeed or fail? We argue that political uncertainty



Coup d’état or Coup d'Autocracy? How Coups Impact Democratization, 1950–2008

This paper considers how coups impact democratization. Current research focuses on coups as a threat to consolidated and fledgling democracies. Policymakers have adapted to this viewpoint by treating

Coups and Democracy

This study uses new data on coups d’état and elections to document a striking development: whereas the vast majority of successful coups before 1991 installed durable rules, the majority of coups

The International Community's Reaction to Coups

With ten attempts since 2010, coups d’etat are surprisingly common events with vital implications for a state’s political development. Aside from being disruptive internally, coups influence

Democracy, War Initiation, and Victory

How do nation-states' political institutions affect the relations between states? This article addresses that question by testing the predictions of different theories linking political institutions

Do Democracies Engage Less in Coup-Proofing? On the Relationship between Regime Type and Civil—Military Relations

The existing literature on military effectiveness established the robust claim that democracies are more successful and effective in winning interstate wars. One mechanism that explains this

Elite Co-optation, Repression, and Coups in Autocracies

This article provides an explanation for the significant variation in coups in autocracies. The existing theoretical literature focuses on the strategies that leaders use to thwart mass mobilization

The Impact of Institutional Coup-Proofing on Coup Attempts and Coup Outcomes

Coup-proofing pertains to political leaders’ strategies that will prevent groups inside or outside the state apparatus from seizing power via a coup d’état. One particular form of these strategies

Does Democratization Reduce the Risk of Military Interventions in Politics in Africa?

This article investigates whether there is an association between a trajectory of political liberalization, democratization, and military interventions. In what is arguably the ‘least likely case’

Coups d'État in Africa: A Political Economy Approach

Current explanations of African coups d'état concentrate on national political factors and generate predictive models for both successful and unsuccessful coups. The explanation offered here

Causes and Triggers of Coups d'état: An Event History Analysis

What explains the propensities of countries to experience coups d'etat? This article tests various, at times competing, theories of coups using event history analysis by modeling coups as repeatable