How the Military Shapes Dictatorships


1 How the Military Shapes Dictatorships 1 Barbara Geddes UCLA All governments depend for their survival on the cooperation of the military. Although democratic regimes in industrialized countries have developed formulas for insulating most aspects of government from military influence, finding ways to insure the support of the armed forces has challenged both democratic and authoritarian governments in less industrialized and newer nations. Governments begun without organized mass citizen support have been especially vulnerable to overthrow by the military. Sixty-seven countries with population above a million achieved independence between the end of World War II and 1989. Around the time of independence, 58 percent of them held multiparty elections and, despite some shortcomings in the quality of democracy, observers expected them to be more-or-less democratic. Twenty-two percent were single-party dictatorships, and 19 percent were monarchies, most of which owed their existence to colonial powers. 2 Within twenty years of independence, 56 percent of the multiparty regimes had been overthrown by military coups. In most of the rest, ruling parties had suppressed the opposition to become dominant-or single-party autocracies. Only five of the initial 39 multiparty regimes had become stable democracies. The monarchies were similarly fragile; 54 percent were overthrown by force of arms within 1 My thanks to Sarah Leary for thoughtful and conscientious research assistance on this paper. 2 Calculated from the CIA World Factbook (2009). All countries that achieved independence after 1989 did so by seceding from existing countries. In contrast, the countries that became independent from 1946 to 1989 had previously been colonies or protectorates of richer countries. Many had not been states prior to colonization. Military interventions have occurred less often in the states formed since 1989. 2 20 years. Governments that began with single-party rule proved the most resilient with an overthrow rate of 31 percent. 3 Many of these initial coups were followed by later coups and other forms of armed intervention as time passed. In short, military forces have ousted many governments and governed many nations during the past 60 years. Yet we have little systematic knowledge about their decision-making processes. Scholars have delved deeply into the grievances that motivate military seizures of power and also into how military regimes collapse, but much less effort has gone into systematic explanations of how decisions are made to intervene and what they do while they remain in power. 4 In this paper, I investigate military …

6 Figures and Tables

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Geddes2010HowTM, title={How the Military Shapes Dictatorships}, author={Barbara Geddes}, year={2010} }