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A military junta (/ -/,) is a government led by a committee of military leaders. The term junta means "meeting" or "committee" and originated in the national and local junta organized by the Spanish resistance to Napoleon's invasion of Spain in 1808. The term is now used to refer to an authoritarian form of government characterized by oligarchic military dictatorship, as distinguished from other categories of authoritarian rule, specifically strongman (autocratic military dictatorships); machine (oligarchic party dictatorships); and bossism (autocratic party dictatorships).
A junta often comes to power as a result of a coup d'état. The junta may either formally take power as the nation's governing body, with the power to rule by decree, or may wield power by exercising binding (but informal) control over a nominally civilian government. These two forms of junta rule are sometimes called open rule and disguised rule. Disguised rule may take the form of either civilianization or indirect rule. Civilianization occurs when a junta publicly ends its obviously military features, but continues its dominance. For example, the junta may terminate martial law, forgo military uniforms in favor of civilian attire, "colonize" government with former military officers, and make use of political parties or mass organizations. "Indirect rule" involves the junta's exertion of concealed, behind-the-scenes control over a civilian puppet. Indirect rule by the military can include either broad control over the government or control over a narrower set of policy areas, such as military or national security matters.
Since the 1920s, military juntas have been frequently seen in Latin America, typically in the form of an "institutionalized, highly corporate/professional junta" headed by the commanding officers of the different military branches (army, navy, and air force), and sometimes joined by the head of the national police or other key bodies. Political scientist Samuel Finer, writing in 1988, noted that juntas in Latin America tended to be smaller than juntas elsewhere; the median junta had 11 members, while Latin American juntas typically had three or four. "Corporate" military coups have been distinguished from "factional" military coups. The former are carried out by the armed forces as an institution, led by senior commanders at the top of the military hierarchy, while the latter are carried out by a segment of the armed forces and are often led by mid-ranking officers.
A 2014 study published in the Annual Review of Political Science journal found that military regimes behaved differently from both civilian dictatorships and autocratic military strongmen. The study found that (1) "strongmen and military regimes are more likely to commit human rights abuses and become embroiled in civil wars than are civilian dictatorships"; (2) "military strongmen start more international wars than either military regimes or civilian dictators, perhaps because they have more reason to fear post-ouster exile, prison, or assassination" and (3) military regimes and civilian dictatorships are more likely to end in democratization, in contrast to the rule of military strongmen, which more often ends by insurgency, popular uprising, or invasion.
The following are examples of military juntas which have ruled, organized by continent. Bolded items indicate countries with juntas currently in power.
- Algeria – Revolutionary Council (1965–1976)
- Burkina Faso – Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration (2022–present)
- Chad – Transitional Military Council (2021–present)
- Egypt – Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (2011–2012)
- Ethiopia – Derg (1974–1987)
- Guinea – National Committee of Reconciliation and Development (2021–present)
- Liberia – People's Redemption Council (1980–1984)
- Libya – Revolutionary Command Council (1969–1977), Establishment of the Authority of the People (1977–2011)
- Mali – National Committee for the Salvation of the People (2020–2021)
- Mauritania – Military Committee for National Recovery (1978–1979), Military Committee for National Salvation (1979–1992), Military Council for Justice and Democracy (2005–2007), High Council of State (2008–2009)
- Nigeria – Military juntas (1966–1979 and 1983–1998)
- Sierra Leone – National Reformation Council (1967–1968), Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (1997–2002)
- Somalia – Supreme Revolutionary Council (1969–1976, 1980–1981)
- Sudan – Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation (1989–1993), Transitional Military Council (2019), Military Junta (2021–present)
- The Gambia – Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (1994–1996)
- Argentina – Argentine Revolution (1966–1973), National Reorganization Process (1976–1983)
- Bolivia – Bolivian military juntas (1970–1971 and 1980–1982)
- Brazil – Brazilian military juntas of 1930 (1930–1945) and 1969 (1964–1985)
- Chile – Government Junta (1973–1990)
- El Salvador – Civic Directory (1931), Junta of Government (1960–1961), Civic-Military Directory (1961–1962), Revolutionary Government Junta (1979–1982)
- Guatemala – Junta of the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état
- Haiti – Junta that took control in the 1991 coup and was deposed in 1994 (1991–1994)
- Nicaragua – Junta of National Reconstruction (1979–1985)
- Peru – Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces (1968–1980)
- Uruguay – Civic-military dictatorship (1973–1985)
- Venezuela under Marcos Pérez Jiménez (1948–1958)
- Bangladesh – Military governments of Ziaur Rahman (1975–1981) and H.M. Ershad (1982–1990)
- China – Military governments of the Beiyang and Nationalist governments (1927–1946), Temporary Provisions against the Communist Rebellion (1948–1991) used by Kuomintang after the fall of Mainland China to the Communists
- Georgia – Military Council of the Republic of Georgia (საქართველოს რესპუბლიკის სამხედრო საბჭო)–Governed the country from 6 January to 10 March 1992. Replaced by state council led by Eduard Shevardnadze.
- Indonesia – New Order (1967–1998)
- Myanmar – State Peace and Development Council (1988–2011), known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council from 1988 to 1997 and State Administration Council (2021–present)
- Pakistan – Military governments of Ayub Khan (1958–1969), Yahya Khan (1969–1971), Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1977–1988), Pervez Musharraf (1999–2008)
- South Korea – Supreme Council for National Reconstruction (1961–1963)
- Thailand – Council for National Security (2006–2008) and National Council for Peace and Order (2014–19)
- Greece – Regime of the Colonels, officially the "Revolutionary Committee" (1967–1974)
- Poland – Military Council of National Salvation (1981–1983)
- Portugal – Ditadura Nacional (1926–1933), National Salvation Junta (1974–1975)
- Turkey – National Unity Committee (1960–1961) and National Security Council (1980–1983)
- Junta, Encyclopædia Britannica (last updated 1998).
- Lai, Brian; Slater, Dan (2006). "Institutions of the Offensive: Domestic Sources of Dispute Initiation in Authoritarian Regimes, 1950–1992". American Journal of Political Science. 50 (1): 113–126. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5907.2006.00173.x. JSTOR 3694260.
- Paul Brooker, Non-Democratic Regimes (Palgrave Macmillan: 2d ed. 2009), pp. 148–150.
- Paul Brooker, Comparative Politics (ed. Daniele Caramani: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 101–102.
- Brooker, Non-Democratic Regimes (2d ed.), p. 153.
- David Kuehn, "Democratic Control of the Military" in Handbook of the Sociology of the Military (eds. Giuseppe Caforio & Marina Nuciari: Springer, 2nd ed.), p. 164.
- Geddes, Barbara; Frantz, Erica; Wright, Joseph G. (2014). "Military Rule". Annual Review of Political Science. 17: 147–162. doi:10.1146/annurev-polisci-032211-213418.
- Bonny, Aurore (26 January 2021). "Mali 'dissolves' military junta, 5 months after coup". Anadolu Agency. Lome, Mali. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
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