Friday, October 16, 2009

The Honduran coup

For a well-written analysis centering on whether Mel Zelaya's removal was a coup, check out Max Cameron's article at The Mark.

What is a coup? I suggest a method for discerning coups, based on the theory that “if it waddles like a duck, flaps like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.” Here are some of the quacks, flaps, and waddles that count as coups:
  1. Arbitrary or illegal termination of the tenure in office of any democratically elected official by any other elected official.
  2. Arbitrary or illegal appointment, removal, or interference in the appointment or deliberations of members of the judiciary or electoral bodies.
  3. Interference by non-elected officials, such as military officers, in the jurisdiction of elected officials.
  4. Use of public office to silence, harass, or disrupt the normal and legal activities of members of the political opposition, the press, or civil society.
  5. Failure to hold elections that meet generally accepted international standards of freedom and fairness.
  6. Violation of the integrity of central institutions, including constitutional checks and balances providing for the separation of powers.
  7. Failure to hold periodic elections or to respect electoral outcomes.
  8. Systematic violation of basic freedoms, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, or respect for minority rights.

The coup in Honduras fulfills conditions 1, 3, 4, 6, and 8; and 5 is imminent. Let’s call a duck a duck.

I would disagree slightly, in that I would argue that a "coup" refers only to the actual removal of democratically elected officials. The conditions occurring after the removal are referring more to authoritarianism than to a coup per se.

Days since the coup: 110
Days until the scheduled presidential election: 44


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