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date: 23 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Coups, understood as attempts to overthrow the sitting executive government by a group inside the state apparatus that includes part of the military, shape competition for office in authoritarian regimes. They do that both directly through actual coups and indirectly through the threat of a coup, which forces incumbent autocrats to balance loyalty and repression to pre-empt being overthrown. The chapter presents a framework for the study of coups and uses it to examine how coups can help select autocrats and to some extent keep them accountable. It presents a number of stylized facts about coups and summarizes the theoretical and empirical literature on the role of coups in autocracies.

Keywords: coup, dictatorship, autocracy, dictator’s dilemma, political competition

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