Naval Forces and Civil-Military Relations

Tobias Böhmelt*, Ulrich Pilster, Atsushi Tago

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


While the importance of navies for international affairs is widely documented, their influence in domestic politics remains less understood. This research offers a comparative account of how states' naval forces affect civil-military relations. Does the navy matter for military attempts to seize government power? Urban populations, especially middle class elements in the capital city, are more capable (if willing) of creating opportunities for the armed forces to overthrow the government. Recruitment practices and the location of bases often link naval forces more strongly to these societal elements. Thus, countries with a larger navy in relation to the army could be more vulnerable to a coup d'état. The empirical findings, based on the analysis of time-series cross-section data on a sample of all states between 1970 and 2007, provide strong support for this proposition. Several robustness checks further increase our confidence in the results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-363
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Global Security Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes


  • civil-military relations
  • coup d'état
  • naval forces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Safety Research


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