Why Elections After the Coup?

The International Community Has Changed the Calculus of Coup Plotters

In a recent project, co-authored with Hein Goemans and published in the British Journal of Political Science, we show a striking development.  Whereas the vast majority of successful coups before 1991 installed durable rules, the majority of coups after that have been followed by competitive elections. We argue that after the Cold War international pressure influenced the consequences of coups. In the post-Cold War era those countries that are most dependent on Western aid have been the first to embrace competitive elections after the coup. Our theory also sheds light on the pronounced decline in the number of coups since 1991.

We use new data on coup d’états and elections - the first is based on the Archigos Project and the second, on the NELDA data.  If you would like to use this data, download it here.

The piece reflects my broader research agenda of external influences on democratization.  It joins a lively discussion of coup d'etats in the scholarly community, as illustrated by the list of Google Scholar cites to the piece here.


The work has been referenced on the Economist blog, FP's Democracy Lab and circulated on Obama Admin.


The publication details are:

 Goemans, Hein and Nikolay Marinov. 2014. "Coups and Democracy" British Journal of Political Science 44:799-825 

The online Appendix to the paper is available here.