Coup risk, coup-proofing strategy and leader survival

Sudduth, Jun Koga (2017) Coup risk, coup-proofing strategy and leader survival. Journal of Peace Research, 54 (1). pp. 3-15. ISSN 0022-3433 (

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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.