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(Wikipedia) - Coup d'état   (Redirected from Coup) For other uses, see Coup d'état (disambiguation). "Coup" and "Putsch" redirect here. For other uses, see Coup (disambiguation). Outline of war
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A coup d'état (/ˌkuːdeɪˈtɑː/; plural: coups d'état), also known as a coup, a putsch, or an overthrow, is the sudden deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to depose the extant government and replace it with another body, civil or military. A coup d'état is considered successful when the usurpers establish their dominance. When the coup neither fails completely nor succeeds, a civil war is a likely consequence.

A coup d'état typically uses the extant government's power to assume political control of the country. In Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak states that " coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder." The armed forces, whether military or paramilitary, are not a defining factor of a coup d'état. Lately a view that all coups are a danger to democracy and stability has been challenged by the notion of a "democratic coup d'état", which "respond to a popular uprising against an authoritarian or totalitarian regime and topple that regime for the limited purpose of holding the free and fair elections of civilian leaders."


The phrase coup d'État (French pronunciation: ​) is French, literally meaning a "stroke of state" or in practice a "blow against the state". In French the word "État", denoting a sovereign political entity, is capitalized.

Although the coup d'état has featured in politics since antiquity, the phrase is of relatively recent coinage; the Oxford Dictionary identifies it as a French expression meaning a "stroke of State".

Since the unsuccessful coups d'état of Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 (the Kapp Putsch), the Swiss German word Putsch (pronounced ; coined for the Züriputsch of 1839) also denotes the same politico-military actions: in Metropolitan France, putsch denoted the 1942 and 1961 anti-government attacks in Algiers, and the 1991 August Putsch in the USSR; the German equivalent is Staatsstreich (the German literal translation of coup d'état), yet a putsch is not always a coup d'état, for example, the Beer Hall Putsch was by politicians without military support.

Usage of the phrase

Politically, a coup d'état is a usually violent political engineering, which affects who rules in the government, without radical changes in the form of the government, the political system. Tactically, a coup d'état involves control, by an active minority of usurpers, who block the remaining (non-participant) defenders of the state's possible defence of the attacked government, by either capturing or expelling the politico-military leaders, and seizing physical control of the country's key government offices, communications media, and infrastructure. It is to be noted that in the latest years there has been a broad use of the phrase in mass media, which may contradict the legal definition of "coup d'état". In looser usage (as in intelligence coup, boardroom coup) the term simply refers to gaining a sudden advantage on a rival.

Pronunciamiento Main article: Pronunciamiento

Pronunciamiento (pronouncement) is a Spanish and Latin American type of coup d'état. The coup d'état (called golpe de Estado in Spanish) was more common in Spain and South America, while the pronunciamiento was more common in Central America. The pronunciamiento is the formal explanation for deposing the regnant government, justifying the installation of the new government that was effected with the golpe de Estado. The difference between a coup and a pronunciamento is that in the former, a military, paramilitary and/or opposing political faction deposes the current civilian government and assumes power, in the latter, the military depose the civil government and install another civil government.

History Further information: List of coups d'état and coup attempts and List of coups d'état and coup attempts by country

Historically speaking, variations of coup d'état have been amongst the most common forms of governmental transition in human societies. In the modern day, coups d'état are common in Africa; between 1952 and 2000, thirty-three countries experienced 85 such depositions. Western Africa had most of them, 42; most were against civil regimes; 27 were against military regimes; and only in five were the deposed incumbents killed. Moreover, as a change-of-government method, the incidence of the coup d'état has declined worldwide.


The political scientist Samuel P. Huntington identifies three classes of coup d'état:

A coup d'état is typed according to the military rank of the lead usurper.

The self-coup denotes an incumbent government – aided and abetted by the military – assuming extra-constitutional powers. A historical example is President, then Emperor, Louis Napoléon Bonaparte. Modern examples include Alberto Fujimori, in Peru, who, although elected, temporarily suspended the legislature and the judiciary in 1992, becoming an authoritarian ruler, and King Gyanendra's assumption of "emergency powers" in Nepal. Another form of self-coup is when a government, having been defeated in an election, refuses to step down.

Resistance to coups d'état

Many coups d'état, even if initially successful in seizing the main centres of state power, are actively opposed by certain segments of society or by the international community. Opposition can take many different forms, including an attempted counter-coup by sections of the armed forces, international isolation of the new regime, and military intervention.

Sometimes opposition takes the form of civil resistance, in which the coup is met with mass demonstrations from the population generally, and disobedience among civil servants and members of the armed forces. Cases in which civil resistance played a significant part in defeating armed coups d'état include: the Kornilov Putsch in Russia in August 1917; the Kapp Putsch in Berlin in March 1920; and the Generals' Revolt in Algiers in April 1961. The coup in the Soviet Union on 19–21 August 1991 is another case in which civil resistance was part of an effective opposition to a coup: Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, stood on top of a tank in the centre of Moscow and urged people to refuse co-operation with the coup.

Post-military-coup governments

After the coup d'état, the military faces the matter of what type of government to establish. In Latin America, it was common for the post-coup government to be led by a junta, a committee of the chiefs of staff of the armed forces. A common form of African post-coup government is the revolutionary assembly, a quasi-legislative body elected by the army. In Pakistan, the military leader typically assumes the title of chief martial law administrator.

According to Huntington, most leaders of a coup d'état act under the concept of right orders: they believe that the best resolution of the country's problems is merely to issue correct orders. This view of government underestimates the difficulty of implementing government policy, and the degree of political resistance to certain correct orders. It presupposes that everyone who matters in the country shares a single, common interest, and that the only question is how to pursue that single, common interest.

Current leaders who assumed power via coups d'état
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2013)
Title Name Assumed power Replaced Country
Sultan Qaboos of Oman* 23 July 1970 Said bin Taimur  Oman
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo 3 August 1979 Francisco Macías Nguema  Equatorial Guinea
President Yoweri Museveni 29 January 1986 Tito Okello  Uganda
President Blaise Compaoré 15 October 1987 Thomas Sankara  Burkina Faso
President Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir 30 June 1989 Sadiq al-Mahdi  Sudan
President Idriss Déby 2 December 1990 Hissène Habré  Chad
President Yahya Jammeh** 22 July 1994 Dawda Jawara  The Gambia
President Denis Sassou Nguesso 25 October 1997 Pascal Lissouba  Republic of the Congo
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama 5 December 2006 Laisenia Qarase  Fiji
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz*** 6 August 2008 Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi  Mauritania
President (of the High Transitional Authority) Andry Rajoelina 17 March 2009 Marc Ravalomanana  Madagascar
President (Acting) Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo**** 11 May 2012 Raimundo Pereira  Guinea-Bissau
President Michel Djotodia 24 March 2013 François Bozizé  Central African Republic
President (Acting) Adly Mansour***** 3 July 2013 Mohamed Morsi  Egypt

* Monarch who overthrew his father in a bloodless palace coup. ** Subsequently confirmed in office by an apparently free and fair election. *** Subsequently confirmed by a narrow margin in the Mauritanian presidential election, 2009, which was regarded as "satisfactory" by international observers. **** Placed in office as part of transitional agreement following the 2012 Guinea-Bissau coup d'état. ***** Placed in office on an interim basis following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état.

Other uses of the term

The term has also been used in a corporate context more specifically as boardroom coup. CEOs that have been sacked by behind-the-scenes maneuvering include Robert Stempel of General Motors and John Akers of IBM, in 1992 and 1993, respectively.

Steve Jobs attempted management coups twice at Apple Inc.; first in 1985 when he unsuccessfully tried to oust John Sculley and then again in 1997 which successfully forced Gil Amelio to resign.

Tags:Africa, African, Algiers, American, Argentina, Berlin, Bissau, Blaise Compaoré, Brazil, Burkina, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Congo, Constitutional Monarchy, Egypt, Egyptian, France, François Bozizé, French, General Motors, German, Greece, Guardian, Guinea, Libya, Mahdi, Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, Mauritania, Mohamed Morsi, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Monarchy, Morsi, Moscow, Nepal, Oman, Oxford, Pakistan, Pakistani, Peru, Portugal, Post, President, Prime Minister, Rome, Russia, Russian, Samuel P. Huntington, Soviet, Soviet Union, Spain, Sudan, Sultan, Swiss, Tactical, Thailand, Turkey, USSR, Uganda, Wikipedia, Yoweri Museveni

See All 13 items matching Coup in Media Gallery

Iranian modern Army Training in northern Iran after the Coup of 1921 which overthrew the misruling Qajar dynasty and replaced it by the Pahlavi dynasty on Feb, 21 by Cossacks Brigade officer Reza Khan and Seyyed Zia Tabatabayee.
Shaban Jafari (bimokh) heading the mob that disrupted the democratic course of the Iranian history toppling Dr. Mosaddegh's regime with a CIA/MI6 backed Coup in 1953 that brough back dictator Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi gets off a Plane after the Coup of 1953. He had fled the country in a small plane with his wife Sorayya. CIA and MI6 re-installed the dictator and toppled the democratic regime of Dr. Mosaddegh during operation TP-AJAX.
Aerial map of Nozheh base from Google Earth
Ayatollah Kashani poses with a group of people including Shaban Jafari
Bandits who created terror on the streets of Iran during coup in 1953

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