From Ballot-Boxes to Barracks: Votes, Institutions, and Post-Election Coups

Journal of Peace Research, Forthcoming

43 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2018 Last revised: 12 May 2018

See all articles by Arturas Rozenas

Arturas Rozenas

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Sean Zeigler

RAND Corporation - Washington DC Offices

Date Written: January 20, 2018

Abstract

The military often intervenes in politics shortly after elections. This might be because election results reveal information about the ease with which a coup can succeed. Would-be coup perpetrators use this information to infer whether the incumbent can be removed from office without provoking popular unrest. We argue that the informational content of elections depends on the electoral rules that translate votes into seats. In electoral systems that incentivize strategic voting, election returns are less informative about the distribution of political support than in electoral systems that incentivize sincere voting. An extensive battery of statistical tests shows that vote-shares of election winners do not predict coup attempts in plurality systems, which encourage strategic voting, but they do predict coup attempts in non-plurality electoral systems, which do not encourage strategic voting. Thus, incumbents who have performed well in elections face a lower risk of coup attempts, but only in institutional environments where voting results are highly informative about the distribution of political support. We apply this logic to illuminate the decisions of the military to intervene into politics during the famous failed 1936 coup in Spain and the successful 1973 coup in Chile.

Keywords: coup, elections, institutions, military

Suggested Citation

Rozenas, Arturas and Zeigler, Sean, From Ballot-Boxes to Barracks: Votes, Institutions, and Post-Election Coups (January 20, 2018). Journal of Peace Research, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3106041 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3106041

Arturas Rozenas (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

19 West 4
New York, NY 10012
United States

Sean Zeigler

RAND Corporation - Washington DC Offices ( email )

1333 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005-4707
United States

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