Zimbabwe, Kosovo and Kyrgyzstan have the highest estimated risk of coup this month, while our annual projections give Sudan, Somalia and Gambia the greatest risk of coup for the year.
CoupCast is a machine learning based early warning forecasting platform for estimating the risk of illegal leadership turnover each month for every country across the globe. These updates provide insight into technical changes/updates, notable events in the previous month, and a more in-depth overview of what to expect in the new month coming forward.
Data and algorithm updates:
- Updated precipitation (SPI) estimates using NOAA’s December 2020 PREC/L release (https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/gridded/data.prel.html).
- Audited and updated inter-state conflict statuses for end of 2020.
- Added new 2019 numbers from UCDP’s Georeferenced Event Dataset for political violence indicator forecast.
- Fixed election information for elections in the following countries: St. Vincent, Niger
- Fixed leadership information for the following countries: Malta
- Regime type changes for the following countries: Algeria (to presidential), Bolivia (to presidential), Kyrgyz Republic (to civilian provisional)
- Regime type histories corrected or expanded for the following countries: Bolivia, Kyrgyz Republic
- Substantially changed GitHub repo site for REIGN data to include new citation information, access to ELVI, new versioning information
- We have discontinued our online archive for monthly leader/election update information. This information is accessible through REIGN itself and the data should be consulted for historical leadership start dates and election outcomes.
Risk forecast overview for January 2021:
Our 2021 estimates have just been released and show both continuity and change in terms of countries estimated to have the greatest risk of a coup event.
For instance, Sudan, which was estimated to have the greatest risk of coup for 2020, is again in the top spot for coup risk in 2021. Mali, Burkina Faso and Somalia, all of which were often in the top 10 in monthly estimates throughout 2020, are also in the top 10 for the year.
Standing out, however, are Gambia and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was featured in the top 10 most at-risk countries only in January 2020 while Gambia never cracked the top 10 throughout 2020.
Zimbabwe’s high coup risk for the year may be tied to the country’s economic crisis that began in 2019 and has only worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the World Bank, the country’s GDP shrank by 8.1% in 2019 and 10% in 2020. The country most recently experienced a coup in 2017 that overthrew the country’s only leader since the end of white minority rule, Robert Mugabe.
Turning to Gambia, the country’s estimated coup risk may in part stem from the fact that the country is a relatively young democracy, having only transitioned to democracy after former president Yahya Jammeh left office in January 2017.
Since then, there have been significant efforts to introduce a new constitution that would replace the country’s 1997 autocratic-era constitution and put more constraints on the office of the president.
However, such efforts were stymied last year after the bill on a new draft constitution did not receive enough votes to move toward a popular referendum, mostly due to opposition from the incumbent party of president Adama Barrow.
Turning toward the top 10 countries for this month, Zimbabwe tops the list while Kosovo and Kyrgyzstan come in at two and three, respectively. Kosovo’s elevated coup risk can be most readily attributed to the early elections that were called after a court ruled that the current government had been elected illegally.
Likewise, Kyrgyzstan will be holding snap parliamentary elections on January 10 following this past year’s massive protests over previous parliamentary elections held in October 2020 that toppled the government.
These successive elections and change in government are likely driving the country’s coup risk.
However, both Kosovo’s and Kyrgyzstan’s coup risk is projected to more-or-less flatten out for the rest of the year while Sudan’s is projected to have several significant spikes before remaining at an elevated level throughout the end of the year.
Likewise, Somalia is projected to have a fairly large spike in coup risk next month, corresponding with their elections of February 8.
Looking at risk globally, CoupCast so far thinks that coup risk will begin to taper off as we approach the spring and stay relatively low throughout the rest of the year.
Regionally, CoupCast appears to have somewhat static projections for coup risk with sub-Saharan Africa having by far the highest risk.
That being said, the Americas are projected to have a small spike in risk in November while Europe has a small spike in risk this month that is projected to taper off.