Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Josef Korbel School of International Studies, International Studies

First Advisor

Deborah Avant, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rachel Epstein

Third Advisor

Erica Chenoweth


Military, Democracy, Defections


Why do militaries shift their loyalty from authoritarian regimes in some instances of anti-regime protests and not others, and why do these shifts sometimes lead to democratic change? These questions are crucial for understanding the role of the military in democratization, given competing expectations in the literatures on civil-military relations, pacted transitions, and civil resistance. They are also important for understanding the outcomes of protests and other nonviolent campaigns for regime change, a topic of increased attention in recent years. To answer them, I propose an argument rooted in the bases of military authority. Militaries are delegated authority by regimes and gain authority by virtue of their functional role in providing societal security and stability. However, regimes often structure delegation to protect themselves at the expense of military functional capacity. Their use of some coup-proofing strategies introduces tensions between a military's delegated and functional authority. When mass anti-regime protests challenge regime legitimacy, I argue that the military is more likely to choose to preserve its functional authority (rather than rely on the regime's delegated authority) by shifting loyalty. The likelihood of loyalty shifts is also affected by the protest movement and whether it is committed to nonviolence and widely supported and a better source of military authority. Using this argument, I explain military loyalty shifts and their types, defined according to the extent and quality of the military organization's involvement. I then explain the relationship between types of shifts and democratization, arguing that democratic change is more likely when military loyalty shifts are fragmented. In these cases, the military acts in favor of regime change, but is less able to exercise influence over the transition compared to militaries that defect as unified organizations. To test this argument, I use new data on military responses to all major anti-regime protest movements from 1946 to 2015. I undertake a large-n, statistical analysis, use methods of qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), and examine three cases to assess support for my argument and its observable implications.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Kara Leigh Kingma Neu


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

418 p.


International relations