Turkey’s Attempted Coup

There was a coup attempt in Turkey just recently. The military declared that they took over power from the incumbent government. Erdogan, after a while, then showed up and declared the legitimacy of his government and condemned the coup. Opposition parties backed his administration. As expected, the military did not stay still. They blockaded the streets with tanks and soldiers. In response, government supporters came down to the streets. Inevitably, violence ensued – people died from shooting and officers got arrested. At the moment, we don’t have a clear sense of who is really in charge of the chaos.

Meanwhile, the fighting continues.

Turkey’s coup poses an important question for political scientists: how do we explain the occurrence of coup in an electoral democracy (though increasingly authoritarian) with a pretty high level of per capita income? If we are to trust the World Bank data Turkey’s GDP per capita in 2014 was US$ 10,515.01. This is far above the US$ 6,000 threshold for regime durability established by Przeworski and Limongi (1997).  In Southeast Asia, Thailand, whose income per capita is something around US$ 4,000, also “joined rather select company” of few countries with records of democratic breakdown or interruption at a pretty high income level (albeit less than the 6,000 threshold). These two recent cases are few examples of regime interruption or retooling in democratic countries.

This is an important question that we all should address. For now, let’s say this out loud: we condemn the attempted military coup in Turkey!