Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Stockholm School of Economics Asia Working Paper Series,
Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm China Economic Research Institute

No 2022-54: Military Factions and Coups: Pathways to Power in Thailand

Anders C. Johansson () and Anders Engvall
Additional contact information
Anders C. Johansson: Stockholm China Economic Research Institute, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
Anders Engvall: Stockholm China Economic Research Institute, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: We study the effect of military factionalization on the likelihood of military coups. Thailand’s military is characterized by the internal power struggle between factions for control of leadership positions an annual reshuffle. Utilizing a unique largescale dataset of all changes in Thai military leadership positions from 1968 to 2018, we identify key factions within the military and examine their potential role in military coups. Factional strength as measured by control of top military positions is positively associated with the likelihood of a military coup. Moreover, factional strength when measured by senior-level positions is also positively related to the likelihood of a military coup. By estimating a panel vector autoregression it is shown that the relationship between military factional strength and coups is unidirectional. We argue that these findings reflect the importance of understanding the dynamic mechanisms within the structure of the armed forces when examining the likelihood of a new coups d’état in countries characterized by recurring military power grabs.

Keywords: military; military coup; coup d’état; factions; Thailand

JEL-codes: D72; H56; N40

Language: English

34 pages, March 28, 2022

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