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Why They Fail? Explanation of Abortive Military Coups D'Etat in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1960-2012

Student: Anastasiia Soboleva

Supervisor: Ivan Grigoriev

Faculty: Saint-Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies

Educational Programme: Political Science and World Politics (Bachelor)

Final Grade: 9

Year of Graduation: 2020

The paper presents an insight into failure of military takeovers, concentrating on the most coup-ridden region of the world – sub-Saharan Africa. Existing literature seems inadequate to account for fiasco that quite often erupts during attempts to seize power. In answering the research question, the work’s framework proposes to address regime-military relations and interweaving behaviours of both actors, the government and the army. Drawing on the theory of coup-proofing, we specify two scenarios which reveal an endogenous dynamics between troops and coup-proofing set by authorities. As presupposed, a bid outcome is conditioned exactly by those enacted policies and a consequent personnel’s response. We test our expectations on sub-Saharan Africa data over the years 1960-2012, using logistic regression with an interaction effect. The findings suggest that Hypothesis 1 featuring ethnic stacking and immediate financial rewards gains sufficient statistical support: both techniques are shown to lower the risk of an ouster only if not applied simultaneously. Hypothesis 2, however, observes only partial evidence, given that the presence of a ruling party and long-term economic endowments, proxied through military spending as a GDP share, turn out to increase the probability of success. While the former relationship can be the case within the scope of significant interaction terms, the evinced impact of expenditure should be relied upon with caution.

Full text (added May 15, 2020)

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