Powell, Jonathan. 2014. "An Assessment of the 'Democratic' Coup Theory: Democratic Trajectories in Africa, 1952-2012." African Security Review 23(3):213-224.
Replication file (.dta)
The Egyptian military’s unconstitutional removal of President Mohamed Morsi has reignited a debate regarding the theory of the ‘democratic coup’. Though coups are almost invariably condemned, many political observers and a few scholars have recently argued that coups can act as catalysts for democratisation. This paper empirically assesses the democratic coup hypothesis for Africa. Multivariate analyses from 1952 to 2012 suggest that coups statistically improve a country’s democratisation prospects. Extensions of the model show that coups appear to be likely precursors for democratisation in staunchly authoritarian regimes, have become less likely to end democracy over time, and their positive influence has strengthened since the end of the Cold War. As of 2012, countries that have experienced a recent coup are expected to be three times more likely to witness a democratic transition than those that have remained coup-free.