Successful or Not? It's a Question

—— A brief introduction to coups from 1950 to 2010

Graphic by | Zhizhou Wang
Source | Global instances of coups from 1950 to 2010: A new dataset

On 15 July 2016, a coup d'état was attempted in Turkey against the government. After that, coup has been a popular topic among the public as well as media. But what's the definition of coup? How do we define a successful coup?
With the data from Global instances of coups from 1950 to 2010: A new dataset, the graphic below presents all coups from 1950 to 2010. Hover over the square you would find more details!
Bellow is a list of all scholars from the article, who had studies related to coups over years. Click on the scholar's name to expore more about scholar's theory on. Below the graphic you can see various definition from different scholars about coup as well as the article about it. While inside the graphic, blue squares represent the successful coups under the selected scholar's theory, and the red squares represent the unsuccessful ones, gray squares indicate that the coup is not included in the scholar's study.
It's sorted by year.

Patrick J McGowan

Years covered: 1958 - 2004
Source: African Military coups d'état, 1956-2001: Frequency, Trends and Distribution
Target: national government
Perpetrator: military, security, and/or police
Tactics: violence... may be negligible
"For the purposes of this study, the displacements of government personnel or constitutional relationships lasting at least one week have been classified as 'successful coups d'itat'."

Marshall, Monty & Donna Marshall

Years covered: 1960 – 2006
Source: Coup d’e´tat events
Target: executive authority and office
Perpetrator: ruling or political elites
Tactics: forceful seizure
" In order for a coup to be considered “successful” effective authority must be exercised by new executive for at least one month."

Belkin, Aaron & Evan Schofer

Years covered: 1945 – 2000
Source: Journal of Conflict Resolution
Target: regime
Perpetrator: small military coalitions
Tactics: undefined
No specific coup success definition found.

Banks, Arthur

Years covered: 1946 – 1999
Source: Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive
Target: top government elite... nation’s power structure
Perpetrator: undefined, includes revolutions
Tactics: forced changes
No specific coup success definition found.

Moreno, Erika; Michael Lewis-Beck & Jacque Amoureux

Years covered: 1950 – 2000
Source: Latin rhythms: Coup cycles in theamericas
Target: national government
Perpetrator: military leader; executive him/herself
Tactics: military force (or threat of)
"An attempted coup is an unsuccessful effort to illegally remove the national government...with coup attempts breeding more coup attempts, regardless of whether or not they are successful"

Finer, Samuel

Years covered: 1958 – 1974
Source: The Man on Horseback: The Role of the Military in Politics
Target: civilian authorities
Perpetrator: armed forces
Tactics: sanction (or threat of)
No specific coup success definition found.

Janowitz, Morris

Years covered: 1946 – 1975
Source: Military Institutions and Coercion in the Developing Countries.
Target: existing regime
Perpetrator: organized factions
Tactics: undefined
"I still maintain that the most successful military regimes - if one can use this term - are, or will be in the long run, those that are able to share political power with or even transform themselves into more civilian-based political institutions."

Kennedy, Gavin

Years covered: 1945 – 1972
Source: The Military in the Third World
Target: undefined
Perpetrator: regular armed troops
Tactics: use or threat of use of armed forces
No book access found online.

Ferguson, Gregor

Years covered: 1945 – 1986
Source: Coup d’e´tat: A Practical Manual
Target: government, establishment
Perpetrator: soldiers, politicians, mercenaries
Tactics: undefined
No book access found online.

O’Kane, Rosemary HT

Years covered: 1950 – 1985
Source: The Likelihood of Coups
Target: government
Perpetrator: civil or military
Tactics: threat or use of violence
"...considers a coup to be successful if it leads to the ‘installation in power of a government of the conspirators’ own choosing'."

Thompson, William R

Years covered: 1946 – 1970
Source: Grievances of Military Coup-Makers
Target: chief executive
Perpetrator: regular armed forces
Tactics: use or threat of force
"Many scholars have followed Thompson in considering a coup to be successful if the ‘postcoup ruling arrangement’ remains in place for at least a week."

Luttwak, Edward

Years covered: 1945 – 1967
Source: Coup d’e´tat: A Practical Handbook
Target: government
Perpetrator: segment of the state apparatus
Tactics: conspiracy
No book access found online.

Lunde, Tormod K

Years covered: 1955 – 1984
Source: Modernization and political instability: Coups d’e´tat in Africa, 1955–1985
Target: regime
Perpetrator: military or security forces
Tactics: undefined
No specific coup success definition found.

Taylor, Charles Lewis & David A Jodice

Years covered: 1948 – 1982
Source: World Handbook of Political and Social Indicators III, 1948–1982. Part 2: Daily Political Events Data.
Target: chief executive
Perpetrator: groups, cliques, cabals, parties and factions
Tactics: threatened or actual coercion
No specific coup success definition found.

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