What countries are most likely to see a coup this year? Political Scientist Jay Ulfelder (if you are not already regularly reading his blog, go there now and subscribe) unveiled an index that attempts to answer that question early last year. With the mixed reports about a possible coup attempt in Eritrea yesterday, Max Fisher penned a post today (worth reading in full) that uses Ulfelder's data on which countries are at the greatest coup risk.
What stands out is the visualization of the data on a map done by Fisher. Africa lights up the map with quite a few countries that make it into the top portion of the list. Ulfelder explained his index in Foreign Policy after successful coups in Guinea-Bissau and Mali last year.
In fact, most countries in the top 20 land there because they are poor and have competitive authoritarian or partially democratic political regimes. Unsurprisingly, coups also turn out to be a recurrent problem; the risk is higher in countries that have experienced other coup attempts in the past several years, a factor common to the top eight countries on this list. Active insurgencies also increase the risk of a coup, and this factor affected the 2012 forecast for countries like Ethiopia, Mali, and Sudan. Ditto for civil wars and popular uprisings in regional neighbors and slow economic growth, common themes in several regions, including West and Central Africa.It is no surprise that the two countries are high on the list for 2013. Ulfelder is often quick to point out the flaws of any index. However, his larger point is to show where risks may lie and provide some clarity when coup rumors start to emerge in countries that are relatively stable.
For the top thirty: