Coup d’état and a democratic signal: The connection between protests and coups after the Cold War

Taku Yukawa, Kaoru Hidaka, Kaori Kushima, Masafumi Fujita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


What connection exists between protests and coup attempts? Although recent studies have revealed that the former incites the latter, they generally do not consider international factors. We contend that post-Cold War nonviolent protests have promoted coup attempts. With sentiment in the international community turning against coups following the end of the Cold War, coup organizers have had to portray their actions as democratic. Launching a coup attempt during ongoing nonviolent protests became a convincing method to prove democratic bona fides. This is because the international community favors nonviolence, and it signals that the emerging regime will not have extreme preferences and will keep order. Conversely, the international community does not regard violent protests as legitimate, and staging a coup attempt during violent protests will not enable a military to claim legitimacy. This argument is tested through statistical analysis and by using the 2011 Egyptian coup as a case study. As expected, the results indicate that the impact of protests on coup attempts varies depending on (1) whether those protests are violent or nonviolent, and on (2) the period. Specifically, only the nonviolent protests in the post-Cold War era prompt coup attempts meaningfully.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-843
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov
Externally publishedYes


  • coups
  • democracy
  • legitimacy
  • protests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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