Military dictatorship

Military dictatorship

Overview
A military dictatorship is a form of government
Form of government
A form of government, or form of state governance, refers to the set of political institutions by which a government of a state is organized. Synonyms include "regime type" and "system of government".-Empirical and conceptual problems:...

 where in the political power resides with the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy
Stratocracy
A stratocracy is a form of government headed by military chiefs; the term is derived from two Greek terms signifying army and power. It is not the same as a military dictatorship where the military's political power is not enforced or even supported by other laws...

, a state ruled directly by the military.
Like any dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

, a military dictatorship may be official or unofficial, and as a result may not actually qualify as stratocratic. Mixed forms also exist, where the military exerts a very strong influence without being entirely dominant.

Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East have been common areas for military dictatorships.
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Encyclopedia
A military dictatorship is a form of government
Form of government
A form of government, or form of state governance, refers to the set of political institutions by which a government of a state is organized. Synonyms include "regime type" and "system of government".-Empirical and conceptual problems:...

 where in the political power resides with the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy
Stratocracy
A stratocracy is a form of government headed by military chiefs; the term is derived from two Greek terms signifying army and power. It is not the same as a military dictatorship where the military's political power is not enforced or even supported by other laws...

, a state ruled directly by the military.
Like any dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

, a military dictatorship may be official or unofficial, and as a result may not actually qualify as stratocratic. Mixed forms also exist, where the military exerts a very strong influence without being entirely dominant.

Types


Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East have been common areas for military dictatorships. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the military often has more cohesion and institutional structure
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

 than most of the civilian institutions of society.

The typical military dictatorship in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 was ruled by a junta
Military junta
A junta or military junta is a government led by a committee of military leaders. The term derives from the Spanish language junta meaning committee, specifically a board of directors...

(derived from a Spanish word which can be translated as "conference" or "board"), or a committee composed of several officers, often from the military's most senior leadership, but in other cases less senior, as evidenced by the term colonels' regime, where the military leaders remained loyal to the previous regime. Other military dictatorships are entirely in the hands of a single officer, sometimes called a caudillo, usually the senior army commander. In either case, the chairman of the junta or the single commander may often personally assume office as head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

.

In the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 governments more often came to be led by a single powerful person, and were autocracies
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

 in addition to military dictatorships. Leaders like Idi Amin
Idi Amin
Idi Amin Dada was a military leader and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Amin joined the British colonial regiment, the King's African Rifles in 1946. Eventually he held the rank of Major General in the post-colonial Ugandan Army and became its Commander before seizing power in the military...

, Sani Abacha
Sani Abacha
General Sani Abacha was a Nigerian military leader and politician. A Kanuri from Borno by tribe, he was born and brought up in Kano, Nigeria. He was the de facto President of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998....

, Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

, and Gamal Abdul Nasser worked to develop a personality cult and became the face of the nation inside and outside their countries.

Creation and evolution


Most military dictatorships are formed after a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

has overthrown the previous government. One very different pattern was the one followed by Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

's regime in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

's regime in North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, both of which began as one-party states, but over the course of their existence turned into military dictatorships as their leaders donned uniforms and the military became closely involved in the government.

Conversely, other military dictatorships may gradually restore significant components of civilian
Civilian
A civilian under international humanitarian law is a person who is not a member of his or her country's armed forces or other militia. Civilians are distinct from combatants. They are afforded a degree of legal protection from the effects of war and military occupation...

 government while the senior military commander still maintains executive political power
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

. In Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, ruling Generals Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq , was the 4th Chief Martial Law Administrator and the sixth President of Pakistan from July 1977 to his death in August 1988...

 (1977–1988) and Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf , is a retired four-star general who served as the 13th Chief of Army Staff and tenth President of Pakistan as well as tenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. Musharraf headed and led an administrative military government from October 1999 till August 2007. He ruled...

 (1999–2008) have held singular referendums to elect themselves President of Pakistan
President of Pakistan
The President of Pakistan is the head of state, as well as figurehead, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Recently passed an XVIII Amendment , Pakistan has a parliamentary democratic system of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a...

 for additional terms forbidden by the constitution.

Justification


In the past, military juntas have justified their rule as a way of bringing political stability for the nation or rescuing it from the threat of "dangerous ideologies
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

". In Latin America the threat of communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 was often used, while in the Middle East the desire to oppose Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and later Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism is a term used to describe religious ideologies seen as advocating a return to the "fundamentals" of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah. Definitions of the term vary. According to Christine L...

 proved an important motivating pattern. Military regimes tend to portray themselves as non-partisan, as a "neutral" party that can provide interim leadership in times of turmoil, and also tend to portray civilian politicians as corrupt and ineffective. One of the almost universal characteristics of a military government
Military government
Military government can refer to conditions under either Military occupation, or Military dictatorship.-Military Government:Military government is the form of administration by which an occupying power exercises governmental authority over occupied territory.The Hague Conventions of 1907 specify...

 is the institution of martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 or a permanent state of emergency
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

.

Decline


Since the 1990s, military dictatorships have become less common. Reasons for this include the fact that military dictatorships no longer have much international legitimacy, as well as the fact that many militaries having unsuccessfully ruled many nations are now inclined not to become involved in political disputes.

As the Cold War began to wind down, in the Middle East, regimes such as those of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 that were once clearly military dictatorships have switched to other forms of despotism
Despotism
Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy...

.

Current cases

– De facto since 1994, National Defence Commission of North Korea
National Defence Commission of North Korea
The National Defense Commission of North Korea is defined by the 1998 constitution as “the highest guiding organ of the military and the managing organ of military matters.” The Chairman of the National Defense Commission controls the armed forces and, in this state where the military...

 (proclaimed highest authority in 1998) – since the 2006 Fijian coup d'état
2006 Fijian coup d'état
The Fijian coup d'état of December 2006 occurred as a continuation of the pressure which had been building since the military unrest of the 2000 Fijian coup d'état and 2005-2006 Fijian political crisis....

; see also 1987 Fijian coups d'état and 2000 Fijian coup d'état. - since the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.

Past cases


Note: due to the large number of historic regimes that could arguably be classed as military dictatorships, this list is limited to those administrations in power from the 19th century onwards.

Africa

(1965–1978; 1992–1994) (1963–1964; 1965–1968; 1969–1970; 1972–1975) (1966–1977; 1980–1991) (1966–1974; 1976–1979; 1987–1992) (1966–1976; 1981–1987; 2003–2005) (1975–1979; 1982–1989) (1999–2002) (1965–1967) (1968–1969; 1977–1979) (1999–2000) (1952–1978; de facto until 2011) (1979–1987) (1974–1987
Derg
The Derg or Dergue was a Communist military junta that came to power in Ethiopia following the ousting of Haile Selassie I. Derg, which means "committee" or "council" in Ge'ez, is the short name of the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army, a committee of...

) (1994–1996
Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council
Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council gained control of Gambia in July 1994, in a military coup d'état. The AFPRC deposed the Dawda Jawara government and banned opposition political activity. Lieutenant Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, chairman of the AFPRC, became head of state...

) (1966–1969
National Liberation Council
The National Liberation Council was the name of the Ghanaian government after the elected government of the Convention Peoples' Party led by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown on February 24, 1966. This government was in place till they handed over to a democratically elected government on October...

; 1972–1979; 1981–1993
Provisional National Defence Council
The Provisional National Defence Council was the name of the Ghanaian government after the People's National Party's elected government was overthrown by Jerry Rawlings, the former head of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council. This was on December 31, 1981. It remained in power until January 7,...

) (1984–1990; 2008–2010
National Council for Democracy and Development
The National Council for Democracy and Development were 2008-2010 the ruling junta of Guinea .-Historical background:...

) (1980–1984) (1986–1993) (1980–1984
People's Redemption Council
The People's Redemption Council was a military regime that governed Liberia during the early 1980s. It was established after the military coup of April 12, 1980, in which Samuel Doe, who served as chairman of the Council, seized power. Apart from Doe, the Council consisted of 17 soldiers...

) (1969–1979) (1972–1976) (1968–1979) (1978–1991; 2005–2007
Military Council for Justice and Democracy
The Military Council for Justice and Democracy was the supreme political body of Mauritania. It served as the country's interim government following the coup d'etat which ousted the President, Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya on 3 August 2005. It was led by the former director of the national police...

; 2008–2009) (1974–1989; 2010–2011
Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy
The Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy , led by Salou Djibo, is a military junta that staged a coup in Niger on 18 February 2010, deposing President Mamadou Tandja...

) (1966–1979; 1983–1989; 1993–1999) (1973–1975) (1967–1968; 1992–1996; 1997–1998
Armed Forces Revolutionary Council
The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council was a group of Sierra Leone soldiers that allied itself with the rebel Revolutionary United Front in the late 1990s. While the AFRC briefly controlled the country in 1998, it was driven from the capital by a coalition of West African troops...

) (1969–1976; local militia rule since 1991) (1958–1964; 1969–1971; 1985-1986
Transitional Military Council
This article details the period of Transitional Military Council, April 1985 to April 1986, in the history of Sudan. The combination of the south's redivision, the introduction throughout the country of the sharia, the renewed civil war, and growing economic problems eventually contributed to...

; 1989–1993
Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation
The Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation was the authority by which the military government of Sudan under Lt. Gen. Omar al-Bashir exercised power.The RCC came to power following the June 1989 coup....

) (1967–1979) (1971–1979; 1985–1986)

The Americas

(1930–1932; 1943–1946
Revolution of '43
The 1943 Argentine coup d'état was a Coup d'état on June 4, 1943 which ended the government of Ramón Castillo, who had been fraudulently elected to office, as part of the period known as the Infamous Decade...

; 1955–1958
Revolución Libertadora
The Revolución Libertadora was a military uprising that ended the second presidential term of Juan Perón in Argentina, on September 16, 1955.-History:...

; 1966–1973; 1976–1983
National Reorganization Process
The National Reorganization Process was the name used by its leaders for the military government that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. In Argentina it is often known simply as la última junta militar or la última dictadura , because several of them existed throughout its history.The Argentine...

) (1828–1848; 1861–1871; 1876–1880; 1930–1931; 1936–1946; 1951–1952; 1964–1966; 1969–1979; 1980–1982) (1889–1894; 1964–1985) (1924–1925; 1927–1931; 1973–1990
Chile under Pinochet
Chile was ruled by a military dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet from 1973 when Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup d'etat until 1990 when the Chilean transition to democracy began. The authoritarian military government was characterized by systematic suppression of political parties and...

) (1855–1857; 1953–1958) (1863–1866; 1868–1876; 1877–1882; 1917–1919) (1933–1940; 1952–1959) (1930–1961) (1876–1883; 1937–1938; 1963–1966; 1972–1979) (1885–1911; 1931–1980) (1944–1945; 1957–1958; 1963–1966; 1970–1986) (1950–1956; 1986–1990, 1991–1994) (1903–1907; 1956–1957
Military Government Council
The Junta Militar of 1956–1957 was a military triumvirate composed by General Roque Rodríguez , Roberto Gálvez Barnes Government and Héctor Caracciolli .They led a peaceful military coup against the unpopular President Julio Lozano Díaz in 1956...

; 1963–1971; 1972–1982) (1876–1880; 1884–1911) (1936–1956
Anastasio Somoza García
Anastasio Somoza García was officially the President of Nicaragua from 1 January 1937 to 1 May 1947 and from 21 May 1950 to 29 September 1956, but ruled effectively as dictator from 1936 until his assassination.-Biography:Somoza was born in San Marcos, Carazo Department in Nicaragua, the son of...

; 1967-1979
Anastasio Somoza Debayle
Anastasio Somoza Debayle was a Nicaraguan leader and officially the 73rd and 76th President of Nicaragua from 1 May 1967 to 1 May 1972 and from 1 December 1974 to 17 July 1979. As head of the National Guard, he was de facto ruler of the country from 1967 to 1979...

) (1968–1989) (1940–1948; 1954–1993) (1838–1872; 1876–1879; 1886–1895; 1914–1915; 1930–1931; 1933–1939; 1948–1950; 1962–1963; 1968–1980) (1980–1988) (1876–1879; 1973–1985) (1847–1858; 1908–1935; 1948–1958)

Asia-Pacific

(1975–1981; 1982–1986) (Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

) (1958–1960, 1962–2011) (1966–1967; 1969–1975
Khmer Republic
The Khmer Republic or République Khmère, was the republican government of Cambodia that was formally declared on October 9, 1970. The Khmer Republic was disestablished in 1975 and was followed by the totalitarian communist state known as Democratic Kampuchea.-Background:Formally declared on October...

) (1928–1975; local militia rule 1912–1928
Warlord era
The Chinese Warlord Era was the period in the history of the Republic of China, from 1916 to 1928, when the country was divided among military cliques, a division that continued until the fall of the Nationalist government in the mainland China regions of Sichuan, Shanxi, Qinghai, Ningxia,...

) (1987; 2000; 2006–present) (1966–1998)
New Order (Indonesia)
The New Order is the term coined by former Indonesian President Suharto to characterize his regime as he came to power in 1966. Suharto used this term to contrast his rule with that of his predecessor, Sukarno...

 (1921–1925; 1950-1951; 1953–1957
Operation Ajax
The 1953 Iranian coup d'état was the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom and the United States under the name TPAJAX Project...

; 1978-1979) (1933–1935; 1937–1938; 1949–1950; 1952–1953; 1958–1979) (1932–1945
Japanese militarism
refers to the ideology in the Empire of Japan that militarism should dominate the political and social life of the nation, and that the strength of the military is equal to the strength of a nation.-Rise of militarism :...

) (1994–present) (1961–1963
Supreme Council for National Reconstruction
The Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, initially named the Revolutionary Committee, was a military junta that oversaw the government of South Korea from May 16, 1961 until the inauguration of the Third Republic of South Korea in 1963...

, 1980) (1959–1960) (1972-1981) (1951–1954; 1963–1972) (1933–1945; 1946–1973; 1976–1988; 1991–1992
National Peace Keeping Council
The National Peace Keeping Council was a Thai military junta that overthrew the civilian elected government of Chatichai Choonhavan in 1991. It was led by Army Commander Suchinda Kraprayoon, Supreme Commander Sunthorn Kongsompong, Airforce Commander Kaset Rojananil and members of the 5th Class of...

; 2006–2008) (1963–1975) (1962–1978)

Europe

(1881–1883; 1934–1935
Zveno
Zveno was a Bulgarian military and political organization, founded in 1927 by army officers. It was associated with a newspaper of that name....

; 1944–1946) (1870–1871
Government of National Defense
Le Gouvernement de la Défense Nationale, or The Government of National Defence, was the first Government of the Third Republic of France from September 4, 1870, to February 13, 1871, during the Franco-Prussian War, formed after the Emperor Louis Napoleon III was captured by the Prussian army. The...

; 1940–1944
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

) (1922–1926; 1936–1941
4th of August Regime
The 4th of August Regime , commonly also known as the Metaxas Regime , was an authoritarian regime under the leadership of General Ioannis Metaxas that ruled Greece from 1936 to 1941...

; 1967–1974) (1944–1945) (1926–1935; 1981–1983
Martial law in Poland
Martial law in Poland refers to the period of time from December 13, 1981 to July 22, 1983, when the authoritarian government of the People's Republic of Poland drastically restricted normal life by introducing martial law in an attempt to crush political opposition to it. Thousands of opposition...

) (1917–1919; 1926–1933
Ditadura Nacional
The Ditadura Nacional was the name of the Portuguese regime initiated by the election of President Óscar Carmona in 1928 that lasted until the adoption of the new constitution in 1933, when the régime changed its name to Estado Novo...

) (1940–1945) (White Movement
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

) (1918-1920) (1923–1930; 1939–1975
Spanish State
Francoist Spain refers to a period of Spanish history between 1936 and 1975 when Spain was under the authoritarian dictatorship of Francisco Franco....

) (1921–1925; 1960–1973; 1982–1989)

See also

  • Military junta
    Military junta
    A junta or military junta is a government led by a committee of military leaders. The term derives from the Spanish language junta meaning committee, specifically a board of directors...

  • Khakistocracy
    Khakistocracy
    Khakistocracy is a portmanteau word used to refer to the military rule of a country often in collusion with the elite and business classes. This is primarily done to garner support and to perpetuate the military regime...

  • Films depicting Latin American military dictatorships
    Films depicting Latin American military dictatorships
    This is a list of movies that, in one way or another, are closely related to the military dictatorships in Latin America that appeared during the context of the Cold War.-Argentina:* Funny Little Dirty War * The Official Story...

  • List of political leaders who held active military ranks in office