Reasonable people disagree on the definition and proper usage of the word “coup.” Inspired by a tweet this morning from Erik Meyersson, I thought I’d put together a lexicon to try to clear things up.
- Coup d’etat: A sudden usurpation of state power by illegal or extra-constitutional means involving the use or threat of force (or, apparently, a new restaurant in Minneapolis).
- Military coup: Same as above, with elements of state security forces as the usurpers.
- Executive coup (a.k.a. autogolpe): In democracies, an abrupt change in rules or procedures by the incumbent chief executive that effectively concentrates power in his or her hands and short-circuits electoral competition. See: India in 1975, Peru in 1992, and Russia in 1993.
- Judicial coup: A decision by an apparently partisan judiciary that removes an elected government from power. See: Egypt in 2012, Thailand in 2008, and, according to those bumper stickers you still see in my neighborhood every once in a while, Bush v. Gore.
- Parliamentary coup: The removal from office of a directly elected president by a legislature using questionable procedures for apparently partisan purposes. See: Paraguay in 2012 and, for a dog that growled but didn’t quite bark, the United States in 1999.
- Merci beaucoup: (Fr.) Thank you very much.
- Mercy bro coup: The successful extrication of a persistently adolescent and self-absorbed young man from an embarrassing situation, probably involving bad beer consumed ironically.
- Coup de grace: (Fr.) The final blow or stroke that finishes off a sufferer or weakened foe.
- Coup de grass: What happened in Uruguay a few weeks ago.
What have I missed? Please use the Comments to suggest additions or corrections.