What Is Political Unrest?

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Political unrest is a term describing widespread dissatisfaction with the current government. Generally, widespread protests qualify as a type of political unrest. The government may be at risk of a coup if political unrest is strong enough.

Governments can respond in a number of ways to political unrest. In democratic governments, there may be legal recourse available if dissent is widespread. Recall elections, for example, may allow voters to remove the acting government from power. In some cases, politicians or even monarchs may have the power to dissolve parliament and to call for new elections.

Dictatorships and other forms of repressive government may take special steps to squash dissent. While all governments have laws prohibiting some forms of protest, repressive governments often take additional steps, including jailing opposition leaders and stifling communication. These steps can sometimes allow the government to continue operating, but they can also lead to further protests.

The Internet has had a strong effect on political unrest. Protesters can now communicate to each other through social media, blogs and other outlets, and many governments have taken steps to block these platforms when faced with strong political unrest. However, protesters are often able to circumvent these restrictions. Twitter, in particular, has become a popular platform among protesters.