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How Mechanization Shapes Coups

Choulis, Ioannis and Mehrl, Marius and Escribà-Folch, Abel and Böhmelt, Tobias (2022) 'How Mechanization Shapes Coups.' Comparative Political Studies. 001041402211001-001041402211001. ISSN 0010-4140

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Civil-military relations are characterized by a fundamental dilemma. To lower coup risk, leaders frequently empower the military, which satisfies the armed forces with the status quo and enables them to fight against threats challenging the civilian leadership. Simultaneously, a too powerful military itself constitutes a potential threat that is capable of overthrowing the government. Our research adds to this debate by examining the impact of mechanization, that is, the degree to which militaries rely on armored vehicles relative to manpower, on coup risk. We discuss several (opposing) mechanisms before developing the theoretical expectation that higher levels of mechanization should lower the likelihood of a coup due to the increased costs of coup execution. Empirical evidence strongly supports this claim and, thus, contributes to our understanding of the emergence of coups as an essential breakdown of civil-military relations, while adding to the debate surrounding the many trade-offs leaders face when coup-proofing their regimes.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: civil-military relations, coups, mechanization, quantitative analysis
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 27 May 2022 09:49
Last Modified: 27 May 2022 09:50

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