The Morning After: Cabinet Instability and the Purging of Ministers after Failed Coup Attempts in Autocracies

69 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2020 Last revised: 24 May 2021

See all articles by Laure Bokobza

Laure Bokobza

University of Oxford

Suthan Krishnarajan

Aarhus University

Jacob Nyrup

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science

Casper Sakstrup

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Lasse Aaskoven

University of Essex - Department of Government

Date Written: October 1, 2020

Abstract

Autocrats rely on inner-circle elites to stay in power. It is commonly assumed that dictators will purge these elites if they unsuccessfully try to unseat the dictator in a coup. However, this assumption has never been tested in a global analysis. Furthermore, little is known about whom dictators target in such purges. In this paper, we focus on the highest levels of the regime, namely cabinet members. Using a new dataset, our analysis covers over 23,000 cabinet members in 115 autocracies from 1967 to 2016. We theorize and demonstrate that failed coups induce autocrats to increasingly purge their cabinets, and that they do so selectively, by targeting higher-ranking cabinet members and those who hold strategic positions, while keeping more loyal and veteran ministers in post. This article presents the most detailed individual-level evidence to date on purges and offers key insights into power-sharing mechanisms in autocracies in times of crisis.

Keywords: cabinets, purges, dictatorship, coup attempts, dictator-elite relations, ministers

Suggested Citation

Bokobza, Laure and Krishnarajan, Suthan and Nyrup, Jacob and Sakstrup, Casper and Aaskoven, Lasse, The Morning After: Cabinet Instability and the Purging of Ministers after Failed Coup Attempts in Autocracies (October 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3703006 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3703006

Laure Bokobza

University of Oxford ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

Suthan Krishnarajan

Aarhus University ( email )

Nordre Ringgade 1
DK-8000 Aarhus C, 8000
Denmark

Jacob Nyrup (Contact Author)

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science ( email )

Eilert Sundts hus 7th floor
Moltke Moes vei 31
Oslo, 0851
Norway

Casper Sakstrup

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Lasse Aaskoven

University of Essex - Department of Government ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

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