Military rule

Barbara Geddes, Erica Frantz, Joseph G. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Military rule as a form of autocratic governance can mean either rule by a military strongman unconstrained by other officers or rule by a group of high-ranking officers who can limit the dictator's discretion. We label the latter form a military regime. Both military strongmen and military regimes are more likely to commit human rights abuses and become embroiled in civil wars than are civilian dictatorships. The behavior of strongmen diverges from that of more constrained military rulers in other areas, however. Military strongmen start more international wars than either military regimes or civilian dictators, perhaps because they have more reason to fear postouster exile, prison, or assassination. Fear of the future may also motivate their resistance to transition. Military strongmen are more often ousted by insurgency, popular uprising, or invasion than are military regimes or civilian dictators. Their tenures rarely end in democratization, whereas the opposite is true of military regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-162
Number of pages16
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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