Coup d'état

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A coup d'état (/ˌkdˈtɑː/; French: blow of state; plural: coups d'état)About this sound audio , also known as a coup, a putsch, or an overthrow, is the sudden and illegal seizure of a government,[1][2][3][4] usually instigated by a small group of the existing state establishment to depose the established government and replace it with a new ruling body, civil or military. A coup d'état is considered successful when the usurpers establish their dominance. When the coup neither fails completely nor succeeds, a civil war is a likely consequence.

A coup d'état typically uses the extant government's power to assume political control of the country. In Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak states that "[a] coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder." The armed forces, whether military or paramilitary, can be a defining factor of a coup d'état. Lately a view that all coups are a danger to democracy and stability has been challenged by the notion of a "democratic coup d'état", which "respond to a popular uprising against an authoritarian or totalitarian regime and topple that regime for the limited purpose of holding the free and fair elections of civilian leaders."[5]

Etymology[edit]

The phrase coup d'État (French pronunciation: ​[ku deta]) is French, literally meaning a "stroke of state" or in practice a "blow against the state". In French the word "État", denoting a sovereign political entity, is capitalized.[6]

Although the coup d'état has featured in politics since antiquity, the phrase is of relatively recent coinage;[7] the Oxford English Dictionary identifies it as a French expression meaning a "stroke of State".

Since an unsuccessful coup d'état in 1920 (the Kapp Putsch), the Swiss German word Putsch (pronounced [pʊtʃ]; coined for the Züriputsch of 1839) also denotes the same politico-military actions.

Usage of the phrase[edit]

Politically, a coup d'état is a usually violent method of political engineering,[citation needed] which affects who rules in the government, without radical changes in the form of the government, the political system. Tactically, a coup d'état involves control, by an active minority of usurpers, who block the remaining (non-participant) defenders of the state's possible defence of the attacked government, by either capturing or expelling the politico-military leaders, and seizing physical control of the country's key government offices, communications media, and infrastructure. It is to be noted that in the latest years there has been a broad use of the phrase in mass media, which may contradict the legal definition of "coup d'état". In looser usage (as in intelligence coup, boardroom coup) the term simply refers to gaining a sudden advantage on a rival.

Pronunciamiento[edit]

Pronunciamiento (pronouncement) is term of Spanish and Latin American origin for a special type of coup d'état. The coup d'état (called golpe de Estado in Spanish) was more common in Spain and South America, while the pronunciamiento was more common in Central America. The pronunciamiento is the formal explanation for deposing the regnant government, justifying the installation of the new government that was effected with the golpe de Estado. The difference between a coup and a pronunciamento is that in the former a military, paramilitary or opposing political faction deposes the current government and assumes power; in the pronunciamento the military deposes the existing government and installs an (ostensibly) civilian government.[8]

History[edit]

Historically speaking, variations of coup d'état have been amongst the most common forms of governmental transition in human societies. In the modern day, coups d'état are common in Africa; between 1952 and 2000, thirty-three countries experienced 85 such depositions. Western Africa had most of them, 42; most were against civil regimes; 27 were against military regimes; and only in five were the deposed incumbents killed.[9] Moreover, as a change-of-government method, the incidence of the coup d'état has declined worldwide.

Types[edit]

The political scientist Samuel P. Huntington identifies three classes of coup d'état:

A coup d'état is typed according to the military rank of the lead usurper.

  • The veto coup d'état and the guardian coup d'état are affected by the army's commanding officers.
  • The breakthrough coup d'état is effected by junior officers (colonels or lower rank) or non-commissioned officers (sergeants). When junior officers or enlisted men so seize power, the coup d'état is a mutiny with grave implications for the organizational and professional integrity of the military.
  • In a bloodless coup d'état, the threat of violence suffices to depose the incumbent. In 1889, Brazil became a republic via bloodless coup; in 1999, Pervez Musharraf assumed power in Pakistan via a bloodless coup; and, in 2006, Sonthi Boonyaratglin assumed power in Thailand as the leader of the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy.

The self-coup denotes an incumbent government – aided and abetted by the military – assuming extra-constitutional powers. A historical example is President, then Emperor, Louis Napoléon Bonaparte. Modern examples include Alberto Fujimori, in Peru, who, although elected, temporarily suspended the legislature and the judiciary in 1992, becoming an authoritarian ruler, and King Gyanendra's assumption of "emergency powers" in Nepal. Another form of self-coup is when a government, having been defeated in an election, refuses to step down.

Resistance to coups d'état[edit]

Many coups d'état, even if initially successful in seizing the main centres of state power, are actively opposed by certain segments of society or by the international community. Opposition can take many different forms, including an attempted counter-coup by sections of the armed forces, international isolation of the new regime, and military intervention.

Sometimes opposition takes the form of civil resistance, in which the coup is met with mass demonstrations from the population generally, and disobedience among civil servants and members of the armed forces. Cases in which civil resistance played a significant part in defeating armed coups d'état include: the Kornilov Putsch in Russia in August 1917; the Kapp Putsch in Berlin in March 1920; and the Generals' Revolt in Algiers in April 1961.[10] The coup in the Soviet Union on 19–21 August 1991 is another case in which civil resistance was part of an effective opposition to a coup: Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, stood on top of a tank in the centre of Moscow and urged people to refuse co-operation with the coup.

Post-military-coup governments[edit]

After the coup d'état, the military faces the matter of what type of government to establish. In Latin America, it was common for the post-coup government to be led by a junta, a committee of the chiefs of staff of the armed forces. A common form of African post-coup government is the revolutionary assembly, a quasi-legislative body elected by the army. In Pakistan, the military leader typically assumes the title of chief martial law administrator.

According to Huntington, most leaders of a coup d'état act under the concept of right orders: they believe that the best resolution of the country's problems is merely to issue correct orders. This view of government underestimates the difficulty of implementing government policy, and the degree of political resistance to certain correct orders. It presupposes that everyone who matters in the country shares a single, common interest, and that the only question is how to pursue that single, common interest.

Current leaders who assumed power via coups d'état[edit]

Title Name Assumed power Replaced Country
Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said[11]1 23 July 1970 Said bin Taimur  Oman
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo 3 August 1979 Francisco Macías Nguema  Equatorial Guinea
President Yoweri Museveni 29 January 1986 Tito Okello  Uganda
President Blaise Compaoré 15 October 1987 Thomas Sankara  Burkina Faso
President Omar al-Bashir 30 June 1989 Sadiq al-Mahdi  Sudan
President Idriss Déby 2 December 1990 Hissène Habré  Chad
President Yahya Jammeh[12]2 22 July 1994 Dawda Jawara  The Gambia
President Denis Sassou Nguesso 25 October 1997 Pascal Lissouba  Republic of the Congo
Prime Minister Hun Sen August 1997 Norodom Ranariddh  Cambodia
Prime Minister (Acting) Frank Bainimarama 5 December 2006 Laisenia Qarase  Fiji
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz3 6 August 2008 Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi  Mauritania
President (Acting) Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo4 11 May 2012 Raimundo Pereira  Guinea-Bissau
President (Acting) Adly Mansour[13]5 3 July 2013 Mohamed Morsi  Egypt

1Monarch who overthrew his father in a bloodless palace coup.
2Subsequently confirmed in office by an apparently free and fair election.
3Subsequently confirmed by a narrow margin in the Mauritanian presidential election, 2009, which was regarded as "satisfactory" by international observers.
4Placed in office as part of transitional agreement following the 2012 Guinea-Bissau coup d'état.
5Placed in office on an interim basis following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état.

Other uses of the term[edit]

The term has also been used in a corporate context more specifically as boardroom coup. CEOs that have been sacked by behind-the-scenes maneuvering include Robert Stempel of General Motors[14][15] and John Akers of IBM, in 1992 and 1993, respectively.[16][17]

Steve Jobs attempted management coups twice at Apple Inc.; first in 1985 when he unsuccessfully tried to oust John Sculley and then again in 1997 which successfully forced Gil Amelio to resign.[18][19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Legal thought in the United States of America under contemporary pressures: Reports from the United States of America on topics of major concern as established for the VIII Congress of the International Academy of Comparative Law Authors: International Academy of Comparative Law, American Association for the Comparative Study of Law Editors John Newbold Hazard, Wenceslas J. Wagner Publisher: Émile Bruylant, 1970 Length 689 pages p. 509 Quote: "But even if the most laudatory of motivations be assumed, the fact remains that the coup d'état is a deliberately illegal act of the gravest kind and strikes at the highest level of law and order in society..."
  2. ^ Coup d'etat: a practical handbook By Edward Luttwak p. 172 Quote: "Clearly the coup is by definition illegal, "
  3. ^ USAID[dead link]
  4. ^ Coup d'etat Definition from Auburn U. Quote: A quick and decisive extra-legal seizure of governmental power by a relatively small but highly organized group of political or military leaders...
  5. ^ Ozan O. Varol, The Democratic Coup d’État, 53 Harv. Int'l L.J. 292 (2012).
  6. ^ "Banque de d�pannage linguistique – �tat". Office québécois de la langue française. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  7. ^ Julius Caesar's civil war, 5 Jan 49 BC.
  8. ^ Edward Luttwak, Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, Harvard University Press, 1969, 1980. ISBN 0-674-17547-6.
  9. ^ George Klay Kieh, Jr. and Pita Ogaba Agbese (eds.), The Military and Politics in Africa, Ashgate Publishing, 2004. ISBN 0-7546-1876-5, pp. 44–5.
  10. ^ Adam Roberts, ‘Civil Resistance to Military Coups’, Journal of Peace Research, Oslo, vol. 12, no. 1, 1975, pp. 19–36, covers these and some other cases.
  11. ^ Allen, Calvin H.; Rigsbee, W. Lynn (2000). Oman Under Qaboos: From Coup to Constitution, 1970-1996. Frank Cass Publishers. 
  12. ^ "The Gambia". Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  13. ^ "Coup topples Egypt's Morsy; deposed president under 'house arrest'". CNN. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Bunkley, Nick (10 May 2011). "Robert C. Stempel Is Dead at 77; Led G.M. During a Troubled Period". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ Miller, Stephen (11 May 2011). "Engineer Ran GM in Dark Early '90s". The Wall Street Journal. 
  16. ^ Black, Larry (27 January 1993). "IBM fires Akers and slashes dividend". The Independent (London). 
  17. ^ How IBM Board Member Jim Burke Persuaded Gerstner to Put His Career At Stake
  18. ^ Seibold, Chris (24 May 2011). "May 24, 1985: Jobs Fails to Oust Sculley". Apple Matters. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "Apple Formally Names Jobs as Interim Chief". The New York Times (New York). 17 September 1997. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 

Bibliography[edit]