coup

coup

[koo]
coup [Fr.,=blow], among Native North Americans of the Plains culture, a war honor, awarded for striking an enemy in such a way that it was considered an extreme act of bravery. Generally, coups were awarded according to the degree of difficulty and danger involved; the most extreme, such as striking an armed enemy with the bare hand, counted highest. Killing an enemy, wounding him, scalping him, or stealing his horse or gun—all these were coups of value. Recital of the deeds was an important social function, and a warrior with many coups held a high status and was honored at feasts, ceremonials, and in the tribe. After warfare had ceased, coups became transferable property, passing from the old men to the younger, who needed coups to acquire warrior status in the tribe.
or coup

(French: “stroke of state”) Sudden overthrow, often violent, of an existing government by a group of conspirators. Coups are most common in countries with unstable governments and in countries with little experience of successful democracy. Their success depends on surprise and speed. Coups rarely alter a nation's fundamental social and economic policies or significantly redistribute power. Seealso military government, revolution.

Learn more about coup d'état with a free trial on Britannica.com.

A self-coup or autocoup is a form of coup d'état that occurs when a country's leader dissolves or renders powerless the national legislature and assumes extraordinary powers not granted under normal circumstances. Other measures taken may include annulling the nation's constitution and suspending civil courts. In most cases the head of state is granted dictatorial powers.

One of the best modern examples of the self-coup is elected Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's takeover of the government on April 5, 1992, ostensibly to exercise absolute authority in annihilating Maoist Shining Path insurgents, though political opponents and journalists were arrested by the military. A historical example was the coup d'état of Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, who granted himself emergency powers and later conducted a referendum in which he became Napoleon III.

Germany offers another example, in Adolf Hitler's infamous Enabling Act, 1933, and the process of Gleichschaltung, consolidating the power of the Nazi party (NSDAP).

List of self-coups

List of self-coups in fiction

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