A self-coup, or autocoup (from the Spanish autogolpe), is a form of putsch or coup d'état in which a nation's leader, despite having come to power through legal means, dissolves or renders powerless the national legislature and unlawfully assumes extraordinary powers not granted under normal circumstances. Other measures taken may include annulling the nation's constitution, suspending civil courts and having the head of government assume dictatorial powers.
Between 1946 and 2020, an estimated 148 self-coup attempts have taken place: 110 in autocracies and 38 in democracies.
Notable events described as self-coups and attempts
- Latvia: Prime Minister Karlis Ulmanis (May 15–16, 1934)
- Chile: President Arturo Alessandri Palma (February 1936)
- Greece: Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas (August 4, 1936)
- Brazil: President Getúlio Vargas (November 1937)
- Philippines: President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Imelda Marcos (September 23, 1972)
- Uruguay: President Juan María Bordaberry (June 27, 1973)
- Peru: President Alberto Fujimori (April 5, 1992)
- Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro (March 29, 2017; partially failed)
- United States: President Donald Trump (November 3, 2020 – January 6, 2021; failed)
- An early reference to the term autogolpe may be found in Kaufman, Edy: Uruguay in Transition: From Civilian to Military Rule, Transaction, New Brunswick, 1979. It includes a definition of autogolpe and mentions that the word was "popularly" used in reference to events in Uruguay in 1972–1973. See Uruguay in Transition: From Civilian to Military Rule – Edy Kaufman at Google Books.
In political science, the term coup refers to the illegitimate overthrow of a sitting government—usually through violence or the threat of violence. The technical term for attempting to stay in power illegitimately—such as after losing an election—is self-coup or autocoup, sometimes autogolpeMissing or empty
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- Nakamura, David (January 5, 2021). "With brazen assault on election, Trump prompts critics to warn of a coup". Washington Post. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
- Bizzarro, Salvatore (April 20, 2005). Historical Dictionary of Chile. Scarecrow Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-8108-6542-6.
- "Declaration of Martial Law". Official Gazette. Republic of the Philippines. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
- Kenney, Charles D. (2004). Fujimori's coup and the breakdown of democracy in Latin America. University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 0-268-03171-1.
- "Venezuela Muzzles Legislature, Moving Closer to One-Man Rule". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
- "Venezuela's high court dissolves National Assembly". CNN. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
- Call, Charles (January 8, 2021). "No, it's not a coup — It's a failed 'self-coup' that will undermine US leadership and democracy worldwide". Brookings Institution.
- Hill, Fiona (January 11, 2021). "Yes, It Was a Coup. Here's Why". Politico. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
Technically, what Trump attempted is what’s known as a “self-coup” and Trump isn’t the first leader to try it. Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of the first Napoleon) pulled one off in France in December 1851 to stay in power beyond his term. Then he declared himself Emperor, Napoleon III. More recently, Nicolas Maduro perpetrated a self-coup in Venezuela after losing the 2017 elections.