Coup risk, coup-proofing strategy and leader survival

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Under what conditions do political leaders take strategies that allow them to reduce militaries' capabilities to successfully organize a coup? There is a broad consensus among previous studies that political leaders who face a high risk of coup will employ "coup-proofing" strategies. A closer look at their theory and empirical analyses, however, suggests that the presumed relationship between coup risk and coup-proofing should be reexamined. Drawing on insights from formal studies on authoritarian power-sharing, this article proposes that political leaders are less likely to undertake coup-proofing efforts as the coup risk they face increases because militaries can deter leaders from weakening them by threatening a coup. The statistical models in this article estimate a latent coup risk by properly aggregating multiple indicators that capture militaries' willingness and ability to organize a coup. The empirical results strongly support the proposition: Coup-proofing efforts taken by leaders decrease in coup risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jan 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jan 2017


  • coups
  • coup-proofing
  • civil-military relations
  • political leaders
  • coup risk
  • military

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