What went wrong for Mugabe? Most aging dictators don’t get toppled by coups.


People gather outside Harare’s airport to welcome former Zimbabwean vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa on Nov. 22, in Harare. Mnangagwa, 75, was sacked by President Robert Mugabe on Nov. 6, infuriating army chiefs and triggering events that led to Mugabe’s ouster. (Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images)

After 37 years in office, Robert Mugabe’s odds of being removed from power by members of his ruling circle in Zimbabwe were slim. Research on authoritarianism suggests the 93-year-old president was well-positioned to live out his final days in office and join the ranks of the 80 post-World War II dictators who have died in office of natural causes.

The longer a dictator rules, the less likely he is to be toppled in a coup — that’s what history reveals. While concerns about succession loomed large in Zimbabwe, data show that older leaders (ages 65 and up) are at lower risk of losing power in a coup than are their younger despotic counterparts.

Another factor should have worked in Mugabe’s favor: the regime’s revolutionary origins. The shared experience of fighting against the white Rhodesian settler state in the 1960s and 1970s created a particularly strong bond between the civilian leaders

Article source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/11/22/what-went-wrong-for-mugabe-most-aging-dictators-dont-get-toppled-by-coups/

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