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Unpublished Paper
Weak Loyalties: How the Rule of Law Prevents Coups d'Etat and Generates Long-Term Political Stability
ExpressO (2011)
  • Ivan Perkins, UCLA School of Law

The “rule of law” is lauded for producing a variety of positive governance characteristics, including minimal corruption, human rights, and economic prosperity. What has been overlooked, however, is that rule-of-law institutions are also responsible for another phenomenon: the fact that certain states experience long-term political stability, without any coups or coup attempts (defined as internal efforts to seize central state authority through force). The prevailing theory of stability holds that “professional” military officers refrain from coups because they have internalized norms of civilian authority and constitutional procedure. However, this theory requires a system of socialization capable of counteracting self-interest, throughout the entire political-military establishment, for centuries at a time. By examining the first two states to achieve long-term stability—the Republic of Venice and Great Britain—this Article develops a new theory. Impartial rule-of-law institutions systematically attenuate personal-loyalty relationships within the political-military establishment, and this process inhibits the formation of criminal conspiracies, including those aiming at a coup d’état. The Article identifies 22 states that experienced zero coups and coup attempts during the period 1961-2010. Using this data, the Article confirms a prediction of the theory: that stable states should exhibit low levels of corruption.

  • Rule of law,
  • stability,
  • constitutional governance,
  • leadership succession,
  • military,
  • coup d'etat,
  • legal history,
  • Venice,
  • Great Britain
Publication Date
February 13, 2011
Citation Information
Ivan Perkins. "Weak Loyalties: How the Rule of Law Prevents Coups d'Etat and Generates Long-Term Political Stability" ExpressO (2011)
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