Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Don't Support Coups

In a New York Times op-ed, Steve Levitsky and María Victoria Murillo remind us what we should already know: don't support coups.
For a coup to bring democracy, interim governments must exercise extraordinary restraint. Unelected and without a popular mandate, they must limit themselves to forging a consensus around democratic rules of the game and overseeing clean elections. 
Yet anti-populist coups rarely produce such restraint. Having come to power in a polarized environment, with many supporters driven by intense anger and animosity toward the former government, interim leaders are often tempted to engage in partisan revanchism: They indulge in policy reversals, purge the bureaucracy of the former government’s supporters, prosecute former officials and their allies. 
Such measures almost invariably prompt a new round of polarization and conflict. Supporters of the previous government tend to close ranks, radicalize and mobilize against the new government, which, in turn, brings repression. This spiral of mobilization and violence tends to strengthen the hand of government hard-liners who call for the jailing, exile and even banning of the populists in a retreat into authoritarianism.
They warn against the too-common view that the Bolivian coup is good for democracy, because of course the interim government is busily purging and radically changing foreign policy. Plus, it rolls back much of the progress Bolivia was making.
Establishing a civilian rule is a long and difficult process. Each time military officials step in to resolve a crisis, no matter how benign or even democratic their motives may appear to be, the process of institutionalizing civilian control is undermined. Only recently has Latin America began to break out of this vicious cycle. After 1980, the number of coups declined significantly. At least partly as a result, the last three decades have been the most democratic in Latin American history. The renewed willingness to accept and even seek out military intervention is deeply troubling.
I don't care what you think of Evo Morales. His removal by the military is bad, period. Same with Chávez in Venezuela or Zelaya in Honduras. Same with Juan Perón. These coups did terrible long-term damage to democratic institutions and led to so many unnecessary deaths. Bolivian institutions and Bolivians themselves will suffer much more because of this.

It should be so obvious that we don't want the military to be a moderator force, to take Alfred Stepan's term. And yet we don't learn from history.


Alfredo 6:13 AM  

Very good article...I may have misjudged you..

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