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The Two-Sided Effect of Elections on Coup Attempts

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In this article, we investigate the relationship between elections and coup attempts. We argue that elections have opposing effects on the risk of coup attempts, depending on the state of the economy in which they are held. Elections occurring in conditions of economic crisis spur anti-government mobilization and high levels of state repression. This increases the subsequent risk of coup attempts. Conversely, elections held during economic expansion induce pro-government mobilization and waning repression, which reduces the subsequent risk of coups. We find strong support for these propositions in a statistical analysis of 130 countries that conducted contested elections in the period 1952 to 2013. The results are robust to an array of model specifications, including when we account for election outcome, postelection economic performance, and the possibility that both elections and economic performance are endogenous to coup attempts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Pages (from-to)1279-1306
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

    Research areas

  • coup attempts, economic crisis, elections, protest, state repression, VIOLENCE, IMPACT, INSTITUTIONS, HUMAN-RIGHTS, MILITARY-INTERVENTION

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