This study suggests that conscription produces an unappreciated side effect in domestic politics as it increases the likelihood of coup d’état in anocratic regimes. Utilizing data from 1950 to 2016, the study measures the impact of conscription on coup risk in anocracies and non-anocracies and provides significant evidence that conscription increases the probability of a coup attempt in anocracies. I do not argue that conscripts stage military coups. Instead, conscription increases coup risk in anocracies because it increases the ties of the armed forces with society and enables the general public or interest groups to organize their collective action within the armed forces. This academic endeavor aims to expand our understanding on the impact of the armed forces on the prospects of military intervention, delineate the socialization aspect of conscription, and to broaden our knowledge on civil–military relations in non-democratic regimes.
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It should be noted that Ingesson et al. (2018) found no support for the position that conscription reduces coup risk in democracies.
During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the market-based, exemptions system was abandoned in favor of universal military service. In France, the military replacement system was abolished after the defeat against Prussia in 1870 (Rouanet and Piano 2019).
I use the term “professional soldiers” to describe members of the regular armed forces that, unlike conscripts, voluntarily choose the military profession as their career. Thus, the term is strictly used to distinguish between career soldiers from conscripts and is unrelated to military effectiveness factors.
Ideology is interpreted as a set of ideas attached to a specific social group or class (Eagleton 1991).
There are cases of anocracies with powerful leaders, like Erdogan’s Turkey or Putin’s Russia, that do effectively control the armed forces due a strong executive. Such cases demonstrate that anocratic rulers are capable of the assertive rule, like autocrats. However, recent coups (Turkey 2016, Zimbabwe 2017) highlight that rival elites, like the Gulenists, cannot be excluded in an anocratic political system, unlike autocratic regimes. Similarly, the strong concentration of power to the executive further alienates the population from the government, thus limiting an anocratic governments representativeness and legitimacy to rule.
In the study’s appendix, the authors examine the effect of conscription on public support to the military globally based on information from the World Values Survey. Contrary to the main text, many of the states that are included in this appendix model are anocracies.
I use the term “circulation” with regards to the perpetual replacement of conscripted soldiers with new recruits as they complete their compulsory military service.
Sure enough, Greece was victorious in the Balkan wars of 1912–3.
Between 1900 and the 1909 coup, Greece had 10 different governments.
Mostly small island states in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. In addition, I include in the Appendix a model only with countries that display a variation in the draft variable.
Meaning that conscription is a very divisive issue that must be approached by the government with caution to avoid polarizing the population.
For more on this issue, please advise Afghanistan may institute conscription, The Hindu, 2010, https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Afghanistan-may-institute-conscription/article16813044.ece
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Choulis, I. I want you…or not? The effect of conscription on coup risk in anocracies. Int Polit 59, 1187–1209 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41311-021-00358-5
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