A coup d'état (/ˌkuː deɪˈtɑː/ ( listen); French: [ku deta]), also known simply as a coup, a putsch (/pʊtʃ/), golpe de estado, or an overthrow, is a type of revolution, where the illegal and overt seizure of a state by the military or other elites within the state apparatus occurs.
1.1 Etymology 1.2 Use of the phrase 1.3 Putsch 1.4 Pronunciamiento
2 History 3 Types 4 Predictors 5 Coup-proofing 6 Democratization 7 Repression after failed coups, and counter-coups 8 International responses 9 In Popular Media 10 Current leaders who assumed power via coups d'état 11 See also 12 References 13 Further reading 14 Bibliography 15 External links
Terminology Etymology Coup is when a country or a team attempt at taking something that is not theirs. The phrase coup d'état is French, literally meaning a "stroke of state" or "blow against the state". In French the word "État" (French: [eta]), denoting a sovereign political entity, is capitalized.
is of relatively recent coinage; the Oxford English Dictionary identifies it as a French expression meaning a "stroke of state". The phrase did not appear within an English text before the 19th century except when used in translation of a French source, there being no simple phrase in English to convey the contextualized idea of a "knockout blow to the existing administration within a state".
One early use within text translated from French was in 1785 in a
printed translation of a letter from a French merchant, commenting on
an arbitrary decree or "arrêt" issued by the French king restricting
the import of British wool. What may be its first published use
within a text composed in English is an editor's note in the London
Morning Chronicle, 7 January 1802, reporting the arrest by
There was a report in circulation yesterday of a sort of coup d'état having taken place in France, in consequence of some formidable conspiracy against the existing government.
In post-Revolutionary France, the phrase came to be used to describe the various murders by Napoleon's hated secret police, the Gens d'Armes d'Elite, who murdered the Duke of Enghien:
...the actors in torture, the distributors of the poisoning draughts, and the secret executioners of those unfortunate individuals or families, whom Bonaparte's measures of safety require to remove. In what revolutionary tyrants call grand[s] coups d'état, as butchering, or poisoning, or drowning, en masse, they are exclusively employed.
Use of the phrase
Clayton Thyne and Jonathan Powell's dataset of coups defines attempted
coups as "illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites
within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive." They
arrive at this definition by combining common definitions in the
existing literature and removing specificities and ambiguities that
exist in many definitions.
In looser usage, as in "intelligence coup" or "boardroom coup", the
term simply refers to gaining a sudden advantage on a rival.
Since an unsuccessful coup d'état in 1920 (the Kapp Putsch), the
Swiss-German word Putsch (pronounced [pʊtʃ], coined for the
Failed coup No regime change, such as when a leader is illegally shuffled out of power without changing the identity of the group in power or the rules for governing Replacement of incumbent dictatorship with another Ouster of the dictatorship followed by democratization (also called "democratic coups")
The study also found that about half of all coups — both during and after the Cold War — install new autocratic regimes. New dictatorships launched by coups engage in higher levels of repression in the year that follows the coup than existed in the year leading to the coup. One third of coups during the Cold War and 10 percent of post-Cold War coups reshuffled the regime leadership. Democracies were installed in the wake of 12 percent of Cold War coups and 40 percent of the post-Cold War coups. Predictors A 2003 review of the academic literature found that the following factors were associated with coups:
officers' personal grievances military organizational grievances military popularity military attitudinal cohesiveness economic decline domestic political crisis contagion from other regional coups external threat participation in war foreign veto power[clarify] and military's national security doctrine officers' political culture noninclusive institutions colonial legacy economic development undiversified exports officers' class composition military size strength of civil society regime legitimacy and past coups.
The literature review in a 2016 study includes mentions of ethnic
factionalism, supportive foreign governments, leader inexperience,
slow growth, commodity price shocks, and poverty.
The cumulative number of coups is a strong predictor of future
coups. Hybrid regimes are more vulnerable to coups than
very authoritarian states or democratic states. A 2015 study finds
that terrorism is strongly associated with re-shuffling coups. A
2016 study finds that there is an ethnic component to coups: "When
leaders attempt to build ethnic armies, or dismantle those created by
their predecessors, they provoke violent resistance from military
officers." Another 2016 study shows that protests increase the
risk of coups, presumably because they ease coordination obstacles
among coup plotters and make international actors less likely to
punish coup leaders. A third 2016 study finds that coups become
more likely in the wake of elections in autocracies when the results
reveal electoral weakness for the incumbent autocrat. A fourth
2016 study finds that inequality between social classes increase the
likelihood of coups. A fifth 2016 study rejects the notion that
participation in war makes coups more likely; to the contrary, coup
risk declines in the presence of enduring interstate conflict. A
sixth 2016 study finds no evidence that coups are contagious; one coup
in a region does not make other coups in the region likely to
follow. One study found that coups are more likely to occur in
states with small populations, as there are smaller coordination
problems for coup-plotters.
A 2017 study in the journal Security Studies found that autocratic
leaders whose states were involved international rivalries over
disputed territory were more likely to be overthrown in a coup. The
authors of the study provide the following logic for why this is:
"Autocratic incumbents invested in spatial rivalries need to
strengthen the military in order to compete with a foreign adversary.
The imperative of developing a strong army puts dictators in a
paradoxical situation: to compete with a rival state, they must
empower the very agency—the military—that is most likely to
threaten their own survival in office." However, a 2016 study in
Conflict Management and Peace Science found that leaders
who were involved in militarized confrontations and conflicts were
less likely to face a coup in the year following the dispute.
A 2018 study in the Journal of Peace Research found that coup attempts
where less likely in states where the militaries derived significant
incomes from peacekeeping missions. The study argued that
militaries were dissuaded from staging coups because they feared that
the UN would no longer enlist the military in peacekeeping
A 2018 study in the Economic Journal found that "oil price shocks are
seen to promote coups in onshore-intensive oil countries, while
preventing them in offshore-intensive oil countries." The study
argues that states which have onshore oil wealth tend to build up
their military to protect the oil, whereas states do not do that for
offshore oil wealth.
In what is referred to as "coup-proofing", regimes create structures
that make it hard for any small group to seize power. These
coup-proofing strategies may include the strategic placing of family,
ethnic, and religious groups in the military; creation of an armed
force parallel to the regular military, and development of multiple
internal security agencies with overlapping jurisdiction that
constantly monitor one another. Research shows that some
coup-proofing strategies reduce the risk of coups occurring.
However, coup-proofing reduces military effectiveness, and
limits the rents that an incumbent can extract.
A 2016 study shows that the implementation of succession rules reduce
coup attempts. Succession rules are believed to hamper
coordination efforts among coup plotters by assuaging the elites who
have more to gain with patience than with plotting.
According to political scientists Curtis Bell and Jonathan Powell,
coup attempts in neighbouring countries lead to greater coup-proofing
and coup-related repression in a region. A 2017 study finds that
countries’ coup-proofing strategies are heavily influenced by other
countries with similar histories.
Research suggests that coups promoting democratization in staunchly
authoritarian regimes, have become less likely to end democracy over
time, and that the positive influence has strengthened since the end
of the Cold War.
A 2014 study found that "coups promote democratization, particularly
among states that are least likely to democratize otherwise". The
authors argue that coup attempts can have this consequence because
leaders of successful coups have incentives to democratize quickly in
order to establish political legitimacy and economic growth while
leaders who stay in power after failed coup attempts see it as a sign
that they must enact meaningful reforms to remain in power. A 2014
study found that 40% of post-Cold War coups were successful. The
authors argue that this may be due to the incentives created by
international pressure. A 2016 study found that democracies were
installed in 12 percent of Cold War coups and 40 percent of the
post-Cold War coups.
Repression after failed coups, and counter-coups
According to Naunihal Singh, author of Seizing Power: The Strategic
Logic of Military Coups (2014), it is "fairly rare" for the prevailing
existing government to violently purge the army after a coup has been
foiled. If it starts mass killing elements of the army, including
officers who were not involved in the coup, this may trigger a
"counter-coup" by soldiers who are afraid they will be next. To
prevent such a desperate counter-coup that may be more successful than
the initial attempt, governments usually resort to firing prominent
officers and replacing them with loyalists instead.
Some research suggests that increased repression and violence
typically follow coup attempts (whether they're successes or
failures). However, some tentative analysis by political scientist
Jay Ulfelder finds no clear pattern of deterioration in human-rights
practices in wake of failed coups in post-Cold War era.
Notable counter-coups include the Ottoman countercoup of 1909, the
1960 Laotian counter-coup, the 1966 Nigerian counter-coup, the 1967
Greek counter-coup, and the 1971 Sudanese counter-coup.
A 2017 study finds that the use of state broadcasting by the putschist
regime after Mali’s 2012 coup did not elevate explicit approval for
The international community tends to react adversely to coups by
reducing aid and imposing sanctions. A 2015 study finds that "coups
against democracies, coups after the Cold War, and coups in states
heavily integrated into the international community are all more
likely to elicit global reaction." Another 2015 study shows that
coups are the strongest predictor for the imposition of democratic
sanctions. A third 2015 study finds that Western states react
strongest against coups of possible democratic and human rights
abuses. A 2016 study shows that the international donor community
in the post-Cold War period penalizes coups by reducing foreign
aid. The US has been inconsistent in applying aid sanctions
against coups both during the Cold War and post-Cold War periods, a
likely consequence of its geopolitical interests.
Organizations such as the
Or for example within the Japenese anime Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, The military attempts to overthrow their corrupt government. Current leaders who assumed power via coups d'état
Position Name Assumed power as of Replaced Country Coup d'état
Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said1 000000001970-07-23-000023 July 1970 Said bin Taimur Oman 1970 Omani coup d'état
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo 000000001979-08-03-00003 August 1979 Francisco Macías Nguema Equatorial Guinea 1979 Equatoguinean coup d'état
President Yoweri Museveni 000000001986-01-29-000029 January 1986 Tito Okello Uganda Ugandan Bush War
President Omar al-Bashir 000000001989-06-30-000030 June 1989 Sadiq al-Mahdi Sudan 1989 Sudanese coup d'état
President Idriss Déby 000000001990-12-02-00002 December 1990 Hissène Habré Chad 1990 Chadian revolution
Prime Minister Hun Sen 000000001997-08-01-0000August 1997 Norodom Ranariddh Cambodia 1997 Cambodian coup d'état
Denis Sassou Nguesso
000000001997-10-25-000025 October 1997
Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama 000000002006-12-05-00005 December 2006 Laisenia Qarase Fiji 2006 Fijian coup d'état
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz2 000000002008-08-06-00006 August 2008 Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi Mauritania 2008 Mauritanian coup d'état
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha 000000002014-05-22-000022 May 2014 Yingluck Shinawatra3 Thailand 2014 Thai coup d'état
President of the Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi 000000002015-02-06-00006 February 2015 Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi4 Yemen 2014–15 Yemeni coup d'état
President Emmerson Mnangagwa 000000002017-11-24-000024 November 2017 Robert Mugabe5 Zimbabwe 2017 Zimbabwean coup d'état
1Monarch who overthrew his father in a bloodless palace coup. 2Subsequently, confirmed by a narrow margin in the 2009 Mauritanian presidential election, which was deemed "satisfactory" by international observers. 3de facto Prime Minister at that time, but under court order to resign 4Hadi resigned on 22 January 2015. 5Mugabe resigned on 21 November 2017. See also
Assassination Civil-military relations Contrast with civilian control of the military Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook Coup de main Kleptocracy Leadership spill List of fictional revolutions and coups List of protective service agencies Military dictatorship Political corruption Political warfare Sabotage Seven Days in May Soft coup State collapse
^ a b c d e f g Powell, Jonathan M.; Thyne, Clayton L. (1 March 2011).
"Global instances of coups from 1950 to 2010 A new dataset". Journal
of Peace Research. 48 (2): 249–259. doi:10.1177/0022343310397436.
^ "Banque de dépannage linguistique – état". Office québécois de
la langue française. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
^ Julius Caesar's civil war, 5 January 49 BC.
^ Norfolk Chronicle, 13 August 1785: "It is thought here by some, that
it is a Coup d'Etat played off as a prelude to a disagreeable
after-piece. But I can confidently assure you, that the
above-mentioned arret was promulgated in consequence of innumerable
complaints and murmurs which have found their way to the ears of the
Sovereign. Our merchants contend, that they experience the greatest
difficulties in trading with the English".
^ Kentish Gazette. Canterbury. 16 October 1804. p. 2.
Missing or empty title= (help)
^ Etymology and definition of Putsch in German
^ Kleine Zürcher Verfassungsgeschichte 1218–2000 (PDF) (in German).
Zurich: State Archives of the Canton of Zurich. 13 September 2000.
^ Pfeifer, Wolfgang (31 January 1993). Etymologisches Wörterbuch des
Deutschen [Etymological Dictionary of German] (in German) (second
ed.). Berlin: Akademie Verlag. ISBN 978-3050006260.
^ "Röhm-Putsch" (in German). Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM),
German Historical Museum. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
^ Todd Little-Siebold, "Cuartelazo" in Encyclopedia of Latin American
History and Culture, vol. 2, p. 305. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
^ Luttwak, Edward (1979). Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook. Harvard
University Press. ISBN 0-674-17547-6.
^ a b c Marinov, Nikolay; Goemans, Hein (1 October 2014). "Coups and
Democracy". British Journal of Political Science. 44 (04): 799–825.
doi:10.1017/S0007123413000264. ISSN 1469-2112. (subscription
^ a b c d e f g h Derpanopoulos, George; Frantz, Erica; Geddes,
Barbara; Wright, Joseph (1 January 2016). "Are coups good for
democracy?". Research & Politics. 3 (1): 2053168016630837.
doi:10.1177/2053168016630837. ISSN 2053-1680.
^ Miller, Michael K. (1 October 2016). "Reanalysis: Are coups good for
democracy?". Research & Politics. 3 (4): 2053168016681908.
doi:10.1177/2053168016681908. ISSN 2053-1680.
^ Thyne, Clayton (25 March 2015). "The impact of coups d'état on
civil war duration". Conflict Management and Peace Science:
^ Casper, Brett Allen; Tyson, Scott A. (1 April 2014). "Popular
Jonathan M Powell & Clayton L Thyne's 'Global instances of coups from 1950 to 2010: A new dataset' in the Journal of Peace Research.
Curzio Malaparte, Technique du
The dictionary definition of coup d'état at Wiktionary Media related to Coups d'état at Wikimedia Commons
v t e
Coups, self-coups, and attempted coups since 1991
List of coups d'état and coup attempts
by country since 2010
Soviet Union (1991)
Republic of the Congo
c Successful for coup ‡ self-coup none sign for attempted for coup
v t e
Coups, self-coups, and attempted coups in Africa since 1960
Republic of the Congo
Upper Volta (1980)c
Central African Republic (1981)
Central African Republic (1982)
Upper Volta (1982)c
Upper Volta (1983)
Upper Volta (1983)c
Sierra Leone (1992)c
Republic of the Congo
Central African Republic (2001)
Central African Republic (2003)
São Tomé and Príncipe (2003)
Burkina Faso (2003)
Republic of the Congo
c coup ‡ self-coup
v t e
Coups, self-coups, and attempted coups in Latin America since 1943
Argentina (1943) Brazil (1945) Venezuela (1945) Venezuela (1948)
Haiti (1950) Argentina (1951)× Cuba (1952) Bolivia (1952) Colombia (1953) Paraguay (1954) Guatemala (1954) Argentina (1955) Honduras (1956) Colombia (1957) Venezuela (1958) Cuba (1959) Brazil (1959)×
El Salvador (1960) El Salvador (1961) Ecuador (1961) Argentina (1962) Peru (1962) Guatemala (1963) Ecuador (1963) Dominican Republic (1963) Honduras (1963) Bolivia (1964) Brazil (1964) Argentina (1966) Panama (1968) Peru (1968) Brazil (1969)
Bolivia (1970) Honduras (1972) Ecuador (1972) Uruguay (1973)‡ Chile (June 1973)× Chile (Sep 1973) Peru (1975) Honduras (1975) Ecuador (1975)× Argentina (1976) Ecuador (1976) Honduras (1978) El Salvador (1979)
Bolivia (1980) Guatemala (1982) Guatemala (1983) Haiti (Jun 1988) Haiti (Sep 1988) Panama (1989)× Paraguay (1989)
Haiti (1991) Venezuela (1992)× Peru (1992)‡ Guatemala (1993)×‡
Ecuador (2000)× Venezuela (2002)× Haiti (2004) Honduras (2009)
Ecuador (2010)× Venezuela (2017)×‡
× coup attempt ‡ self-coup
LCCN: sh85033502 GND: 4193176-2 SUDOC: 027740633 BNF: cb13318982w (data) NDL: 0122