The coup d’etat consists of the sudden and violent seizure of political power by a military or rebel group. In this way, the existing authority is replaced by imposition, without following the legal rules of succession of power that until now were in force. Therefore, the institutional legitimacy of the State is violated.
Next, we will analyze in depth what a coup d’état is , its characteristics , the causes that originate it and the consequences that these have at the socio-political level. We will also see some of the most prominent coups in history.
What is a coup?
The coup is about the seizure of political power without following the established laws of succession of power. The group of power that gives the coup, imposes the change of command of the State suddenly and using violence or unconstitutional means.
The term coup d’état ( coup d’État in French) began to be used in France in the seventeenth century. It was used to refer to the violent actions that the king himself committed without following the norms established in that society, in order to destroy his enemies.
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Types of coup d’etat
There can be two types of coup : the constitutional and the military. The constitutional coup occurs when it is internal elements of the government itself who carry out the coup. The military coup is carried out by the armed forces.
On the other hand, lately there is also talk of a market coup referring to institutional changes that economic groups generate by using mechanisms that destabilize the economy. It should be noted that other terms have been used incorrectly as synonyms for a coup, however their meanings are not the same.
For example, the term revolution conveys the idea of profound social change, a change that is not always present when a coup occurs. In turn, when we speak of a civil war, it means a military confrontation that takes place for a long time between members of the same society.
Characteristics of a coup d’etat
- A coup can occur against any type of government , be it authoritarian or not. The government established can also be of any type. Although it is common to end or establish a dictatorship .
- When an attack like this occurs on the legality and sovereignty of a State , the depositories of them are retained . In democratic countries these bodies are the Parliament or the Government, and in other different types of governments they are the king or the dictator.
- In the face of coups d’état, it is frequent that measures are taken to control the media, that the rule of law is suspended and all kinds of opposition are prohibited.
- Coups d’etat can be provoked by armed groups , by armed forces (known as a military rebellion), or by civil and military forces that rise up (that is, a civil-military rebellion).
- There are those who differentiate the coup from the military pronouncement, when the pronouncement seeks to change the Government, but does not carry out the usurpation or overthrow of the current system.
- If the coup is promoted by those who already have control of power , and the change is in the political regime and not by the authorities that exercise it, it is called a constitutional coup.
- If the legal authority is undermined by an act of contempt of a powerful group, achieving that certain measures are adopted that favor it, but the authorities as well as the judiciary, the parliament and the legal system subsist, the term of coup d’état is applied. technical .
Causes of a coup d’etat
The causes or reasons that lead to a coup will depend on the element that carries it out. If the coup is delivered by members of the Government, it can respond to the desire to perpetuate power , bypassing the constitutional laws to establish a system at its convenience.
On the other hand, the coup can be delivered by a sector that is dissatisfied with those who have control of the State and seek to change the situation by force. Their dissatisfaction may be due to the fact that the government in question does not protect the interests of citizens or certain groups or that it is acting illegitimately.
Consequences of a coup d’etat
A coup brings chaos in society and political destabilization . The confrontation between the coup leaders and the resisters can result in human and property losses. After the coup, extreme measures are taken to control anarchy , so curfews and states of exception are imposed, radically changing the constitutional norms.
If the coup is effective, the main consequence would be the change of government , of those who have the power of the state. Now, if the coup was unsuccessful, the protagonists of it are punished according to the constitution sanctioning this type of crime. A coup d’état can generate riots or be the beginning of a civil war , as happened with the Spanish Civil War of 1936 .
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Most prominent coups in history
In the year 82 a. C. Lucio Cornelio Sila, Roman military man , used the power of the Roman army (about 40 thousand men) against the Republic of Rome, establishing his dictatorship . Since then, both in Rome and in the rest of the world, there has been the threat that a military intervention will change the political order.
Thai: Land of coups
Thailand is known as the land of coups , for being the country where they have occurred the most. The first took place in 1932 when, after a bloody revolt, the absolute monarchy ended and the first parliamentary elections were held in the country.
After 6 years, Luang Phibun, a military leader, becomes prime minister. After World War II there was a short civil administration that saw its end with the 1947 coup by the military, who held power until 1973. It took 3 years of civilian rule for the military to regain control of the country .
Following the intervention of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Chuan Leekpai, leader of the Democratic Party, assumed power. The next blow occurs in 2006, when Thaksin Shinawatra is overthrown. The army ceded power to a civilian government, however a power struggle arose. In 2014 the Royal Thai Armed Forces once again staged a coup, this time against Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan.
Most prominent coup
One of the most prominent coups in history was the one carried out in Spain in 1936 . The attack was against the Second Republic, and unleashed one of the most difficult times in the country, the well-known Spanish Civil War . This warlike conflict brought much horror, pain and deaths to the nation, it ended when the rebels, led by Francisco Franco, imposed the dictatorship .