This theory may be most persuasive: It states that, whatever motivations may have driven a coup or whatever the faults of the government it deposed, changes in the international system after the Cold War make coup-backed governments much more likely to lead a transition to democracy.
Research by Hein Goemans and Nikolay Marinov, published in the British Journal of Political Science and highlighted by the excellent political science blog The Monkey Cage, finds that, since the end of the Cold War, coups have become much more likely to be followed by a democratic election with five years. From 1945 through 1990, only 7 percent of coups were followed by an election. But from 1991 to 2006, it was 34 percent. Still fewer than half, but a remarkable rise.
Goemans and Marinov suggest that the cause here may be that the international system, in which powerful countries such as the United States play a major role in setting norms, pushes coup-backed governments to democratize…