Mapping Where Coups Are Most Likely To Occur In 2017
As disaffected Hillary supporters around the U.S. continue to live in ‘complete terror’ that Trump’s Presidency may mark the beginning of the end of American democracy, here is a map highlighting where, according to a study from the Washington Post, coups may actually occur in 2017.
Among other things, the study estimates the probability of a coup based on type of government in place, personal freedoms, economic prosperity and access to the internet and other forms of communication.
We use a small number of statistical models to create separate forecasts for the risk of a successful coup, like in Thailand in 2014, or failed coup attempt, like in Turkey in 2016. Then we combine them to get a single forecast for the risk of a coup attempt for each country. The complete forecasts are available in a CSV file, and we explain the technical details in a separate post.
The models look for patterns in past coup attempts using data from 1960 to 2017 that we assembled using the Powell and Thyne coup data, Polity Project, World Development Indicators, Armed Conflict Dataset, global food prices (FAO), oil prices (BP) and the Gleditsch and Ward list of states.
Here are some of the things that what we included: how long the current leader has been in power, whether he or she was chosen democratically and the type of government in place. We also consider GDP, economic growth, population and infant mortality; these variables are more difficult to construct in war-torn or highly authoritarian societies, but we use estimates wherever required. We tabulate information about the spread of communication technologies — specifically, Internet access and cellphone ownership.
Below is a list of the 30 places that a coup attempt is the most likely in 2017. Burundi and Thailand came in at the very top of the list with a 12% and 11% chance of a 2017 coup, respectively, while Russia, the election hacking masters of the globe, came in at number 20.
High-risk cases all have markers for instability, however. For example, Burundi has been in crisis since May 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza sought and obtained a third term.
Thailand has been under martial law, with strong restrictions on civil liberties, since the 2014 coup. The country approved a new constitution in 2016 and scheduled elections for 2017 — but, as some researchers point out, elections often increase the risk of further coup attempts.
Meanwhile, WaPo asserts that the United States is about one-third as likely to experience a coup in 2017 as Nigeria and Niger due to a “high infant mortality rate” compared to other developed countries.
Russia, maybe. We estimate that the risk in Russia is about 6 percent, which places it in the top 20 countries risk-wise. If one were to occur, the odds are 2 to 1 that if would fail.
The U.S. presidential transition has also led to Russian claims that a coup may occur in the United States. The same statistical models suggest that the U.S. risk is about 2 percent — and ranks the United States No. 103 out of 161 countries. The risk may seem high but reflects the variable for infant mortality, which is higher in the U.S. than in other developed countries.
Why do we suspect that a “high infant mortality rate” wouldn’t have been weighted quite so high on this study had Hillary been elected instead of Trump?