Leaving the Barracks: Military Coups in Developing Democracies

Lance Y. Hunter, Josh Rutland, Zachary King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A large body of research has examined the factors that influence military coups in authoritarian and democratic states. While this research is informative, we contend that three factors are central in assessing the likelihood of military coups in developing democracies: the perception of corruption within regimes, levels of popular support, and the incentives segments of the military have to initiate coups. In utilizing a historical case-study analysis with six states in Africa, Asia, and Latin America (from 1970-2010) we find that successful military coups are more likely to occur when the ruling administration is increasingly viewed by the public as being corrupt, is unpopular with large portions of society and key factions within the state, and when segments of the military perceive their position within the state as being threatened by the current regime. These findings have important implications for democratic governance in developing democracies. Related Articles:: Hiroi, Taeko, and Sawa Omori. 2013. “Causes and Triggers of Coups d'état: An Event History Analysis.” Politics & Policy 41 (1): 39-64. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12001. Kim, Hae S. 2009. “The Complexities of Internal Conflict in the Third World: Beyond Ethnic and Religious Conflict.” Politics & Policy 37 (2): 395-414. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1747-1346.2009.00177.x/abstract. McCarthy-Jones, Anthea, and Mark Turner. 2015. “Policy Transfer through Time and the Search for Legitimacy in Developing Nations.” Politics & Policy 43 (2): 215-238. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12113.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1062-1103
Number of pages42
JournalPolitics and Policy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Authoritarian Reversals
  • Corruption
  • Democracy
  • Developing Democracies
  • Military Coups
  • Military Incentives
  • Popular Support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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