Mass Protests and the Military

Issue Date July 2018
Volume 29
Issue 3
Page Numbers 141-155
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In nonviolent mass protests against dictators, the military is the ultimate arbiter of regime survival. Drawing on a global survey of forty “dictator’s endgames” from 1946 to 2014, this essay examines how dictators and their militaries respond to popular protests, and what the consequences are in terms of the survival of authoritarianism or the emergence of democracy. The authors argue that the type of the authoritarian regime and the military’s legacy of human rights violations go a long way in explaining whether a military will employ violence against the protesters or defect from the ruling coalition.

About the Authors

Aurel Croissant

Aurel Croissant is professor of political science at Heidelberg University. In 2017, he was a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy.

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David Kuehn

David Kuehn is senior research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies in Hamburg.

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Tanja Eschenauer

Tanja Eschenauer is a research fellow at the Institute of Political Science at Heidelberg University.

View all work by Tanja Eschenauer