The Decline of the African Military Coup

Issue Date July 2007
Volume 18
Issue 3
Page Numbers 141-155
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This study tests the proposition that liberalizing African states may avoid coups d’etat and other forms of military intervention in their politics. It hypothesizes that one way for African states to gain legitimacy is by following a trajectory of gradual liberalization. The study shows that this legitimacy, in turn, tends to inoculate African states against military intervention. Many African regimes, on the other hand, have experienced an “authoritarian drift” after nominal transitions to “democracy.” Unlike the regimes governing liberalizing states, “electoral authoritarian” regimes—ones that fall prey to authoritarian drift—become more vulnerable to both civil war and military coup.

About the Author

John F. Clark is associate professor and chairs the Department of International Relations at Florida International University. He is author of The Failure of Democracy in the Republic of Congo (2008).

View all work by John F. Clark