There is no shortage of extremist groups and anti-government establishments wanting to over through democratically elected governments
2022 has seen more political coup attempts to over through elected governments than in recent years. From US January six insurrections to the thwarting of far-right extremists in Germany and, most recently, the arrest of Peru’s President trying to dissolve the government and install loyalists, democracy has reached its global low.
While the exact nature of attempted coups remains unknown, it sets back an already complicated government’s struggle to balance its economies and maintain democracy.
In the case of a country like Guinea, the Bissau government had survived a coup attempt days after Burkina Faso suffered its fifth coup detat in nine months across the Great Sahel region.
Guinea-Bissau struggled to gain independence from Portugal as one of Africa’s last European colonies, and Guinea-Bissau has suffered one-party rule or military rule, including some 20 attempted coups, during the 48 years it has been independent.
In 2012, both Guinea-Bissau and Mali began a difficult path of rebuilding democratic institutions after military coups swept away their elected governments. In the last two years, there have been six attempted coups across West Africa, with the army succeeding in ousting the presidents of Mali (twice), Guinea, and Burkina Faso.
The failure of elected governments to establish robust institutions and to impose forms of inclusive governance that would improve ordinary people’s lives, as well as widespread frustration with democracy, has led to the coups, which are taking place in a context of increasing jihadist violence across the globe.
As the U.S. suddenly pulled out of Afghanistan, Kabul’s elected government crumbled and gave way to the Taliban, returning the country to a system diametrically opposed to democracy, pluralism, and equality. Since then, Mali has experienced a concomitant downward spiral of extremist violence, bad governance, and repeated coups.
In stark contrast, nobody has spoken in favour of a democratically elected President. Governments reliant on outside economic or military support had to hold elections with at least superficial credibility and comply with certain institutional checks on their authority, among other concessions, to retain good standing. The armed forces have also regularly prevented democratization–at its most extreme, overthrowing elected governments–particularly when efforts at change threatened their vested interests.
Trump’s measures to overturn elections from November 3 onwards amount to coups, implying an unlawful seizure of government power, though it may not require military force. Trump’s conduct constitutes a self-coup, as he has recently called for the termination of the U.S. Constitution.
The self-coup has undermined America’s ability to advance ideas of democracy, human rights, and inclusivity. Trump’s next presidential bid may be scuttled, but there is still the possibility of staging another coup, and a political party that appears explicitly hostile to democracy would undoubtedly be tempted to seize power, this time securing it for the long haul.