Who punishes the leader? Leader culpability and coups during civil war

Jun Koga Sudduth

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5 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Who punishes leaders via coups during civil war? By distinguishing between different types of internal audiences within the government and their attempts to remove a leader forcefully, I illuminate the mechanisms that explain variation in who punishes the leader during wartime. I claim that whether leaders are culpable for the initiation of the war has an important implication for whether they are punished by members of the ruling coalition (i.e., those with access to decision-making and political power), or by those outside the ruling coalition. Empirical evidence supports my hypotheses: (i) culpable leaders are more likely to experience coup attempts led by those outside the leaders' ruling coalition, should the war go poorly; and (ii) nonculpable leaders are more likely to experience coups executed by members of their ruling coalition. The findings have important implications for how leaders respond to audience pressures as they consider whether to fight or settle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-452
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number2-3
Early online date27 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • leader survival
  • civil wars
  • coup
  • accountability


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