Does Democratization Reduce the Risk of Military Interventions in Politics in Africa?
Democratization, Vol. 15, No. 2, April 2008
Posted: 12 Sep 2007
This study investigates whether there is an association between a trajectory of political liberalization, democratization, and military interventions. In what is arguably the 'least likely-case' region in the world, this study analyzes the experience of 55 regimes in Africa between 1990 and 2004 and finds a striking regularity. Liberalizing, and in particular democratic, regimes have a significantly different track record of being subjected either successful or failed military interventions. The analysis suggests that democratic regimes are about 7.5 times less likely to be subjected to attempted military interventions than electoral authoritarian regimes and almost 18 times less likely to be victims of actual regime breakdown as a result. Through an additional case study analysis of the 'anomalous' cases of interventions in democratic polities, our results are largely strengthened as most of the stories behind the numbers suggests that it is only when democratic regimes perform dismally and/or do not pay soldiers their salaries that they are at great risk of being overthrown. Legitimacy accrued by political liberalization seems to 'inoculate' states against military intervention in the political realm.
Keywords: Africa, democratization, military interventions, coups, liberalization
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