Military Coups d’état and the Distribution of Domestic Institutional Political Power Within Democracies: The Case of Post-1789 France

  • Miles KittsEmail author


Peter Feaver’s agency theory of civil–military relations posits that within democratic countries the relationship between civilian and military leaderships is fluid. This chapter seeks to see how civil–military relations within democracies are influenced by the distribution of domestic political power, shown particularly in whether the country has a presidential or parliamentary form of government, or their approximate. France since 1789 is a case (however imperfect) of a democratic country where the distribution of domestic political power has fluctuated between autocratic and collective forms of decision-making. This chapter presents a longitudinal case study of how since 1789 French civilian leaders have attempted to control the French military, with a focus on how the distribution of domestic political power influenced civil–military relations. This chapter hypothesizes that when there is a concentration of domestic political power, the military is more likely to be compliant with the civilian leadership, but when that power is more diffused, the military is less likely to be compliant. This is because when political power is more concentrated, the military has more confidence in the government, limiting the scope through which the military can inject itself into politics. However, when political power is more diffused, the military is more likely to feel that it has the duty and the opening through which to inject itself into politics.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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