Military government

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A military government or seldom also called a stratocracy (from the Greek στρατός stratos 'army' and the Greek κρατεῖν kratein 'rule') describes a form of rule in which the state authority (especially the executive authority ) comes from the military . There are differences to the military dictatorship .

When the military usurps the entire state power and also practices an authoritarian style of rule, one speaks of a military dictatorship . In the historical development there were also mixed forms in which bourgeois governments existed, but which were strongly influenced by the military in the background. Civilian governments not therefore receive the full political power and can, through military intervention deposed be. Reasons for intervention can be, for example, to ensure stability or to maintain the status quo . Military rule can be very short-lived and only last until the state desired by the military is restored, or it can be of a long-term nature. The reasons for the establishment of a military government mostly lie in the domestic political failure of the civil government (e.g. poor economic situation or terrorist activities ) and the lack of any other ruling class besides the military.

Often, military governments are also installed as temporary solutions in occupied countries. Examples of this are Germany (1945–1949), Japan (1945–1952), Austria (1945–1955), more recently Iraq (2003–2004). Military governments in occupied territories always have an autocratic character insofar as political power is monopolized in the leadership of the occupying forces. If they serve the purpose of building a new political system in the defeated country, they are dictatorships . (See also “Military Governments by Occupation” .) However, these interventions by foreign troops should be distinguished from a coup by their own military.

Stages of military rule

Eric Nordlinger analyzed various military rule in his 1977 book Soldiers in Politics . He divided the army's political influence into three levels:

Moderate, soothing form

If civilians continue to hold political office, officers retain a right of veto . Under threat of military force, they are able to replace politicians with more benevolent people without becoming directly active in politics . Their aim is to avoid political ideologies that are directed differently. In economic terms, everything remains mostly the same.

Protective form

The military is taking over government control to restore stability. Economic reforms often take place during this period. Public organizations and media can work as usual.

Dominant form

A military regime is established that also has a far-reaching influence on public life. There are fundamental changes in society , and many fundamental rights are violated. The military is introducing a bureaucratic system. Independent media are banned.

Empirical evidence

States dominated by the military

Turkey (1980–1989)

In 1989 the National Security Council in Turkey was dissolved. This council consisted of senior officers who owned the executive branch. The origins of this military dominance date back to the time of Kemal Ataturk . Ataturk founded the ideology of Kemalism , with which he radically reshaped Turkey. For example, he introduced women's suffrage, closed Koran schools and based the Turkish legal system on Western models. Ataturk's legacy has been protected by the Turkish military ever since. In 1960 social grievances led to the overthrow of the government by General Cemal Gürsel . But the subsequent government could not get the problems under control either. Left and right terrorist activities increased and the economic situation deteriorated rapidly.

In 1971 the army intervened again and repressive measures were taken against the population. But the government established in 1972 did not stay in office for very long either. On September 12, 1980, Chief of Staff Kenan Evren launched a coup against Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel . Evren banned the parties and declared a state of war in order to “take action against terrorism in the country”. The military was even enshrined in the constitution in 1982 as part of political power and Evren was elected president. Turkey only returned to civil rule in 1983 with the election of Turgut Özal .

Nevertheless, the military remains one of the most important political figures in Turkey today, as the relationship between the armed forces and the Islamic government makes clear. However, the dominance of the military has been decreasing since the EU reforms. In a constitutional referendum on September 12, 2010, voters voted on numerous changes to the country's constitution, which has been in force since 1982. The most comprehensive constitutional reform to date included restricting the rights of the Turkish military. Thus, political immunity for members of the 1980 military junta is lifted. The rights of the military courts are restricted. In this way, high-ranking generals can also be convicted in civil courts . Actions against the security of the state as well as against the constitutionally adequate order of criminal prosecution and the execution of sentences are no longer heard in military courts. Shortly afterwards, numerous former generals and those involved in the 1980 military coup were interrogated and arrested.

In 2016 there was another military revolt against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Binali Yıldırım . The coup attempt was only supported by part of the military and ultimately failed. The coup plotters failed to enforce a blackout by blocking communications and ultimately failed due to resistance from the population, the government-loyal military and the police.

Brazil (1964–1985)

With the coup of 1964, Marshal Humberto Castelo Branco took over the presidency in Brazil . In 1965, the existing political parties were dissolved and an artificial two-party system called "relative democracy " was created. Under his successor, Marshal Artur da Costa e Silva , the last remnants of democracy were removed and it was only under President João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo (1979–1985) that a policy of opening up began.

Greece (1967–1974)

Greece was ruled by a military dictatorship between 1967 and 1974, the so-called colonel regime .

Poland (1981-1983)

In the People's Republic of Poland , the military under General Wojciech Jaruzelski was in power during the period of martial law from 1981 to 1983 .

Myanmar (1962–2011)

Myanmar (formerly: Burma) was ruled by a military government from 1962 to February 4, 2011, most recently General Than Shwe was the head of state, who is still head of the military. From 2011 to 2016, Thein was his civilian president, but he himself held a leading role in the military as a general.

Chile (1973–1990)

Chile has been an authoritarian military dictatorship since the coup led by General Augusto Pinochet .


From the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932 to the democratic popular uprising in 1973 , Thailand was ruled by the military, with a few brief interruptions. After the massacre at Thammasat University in 1976, another military dictatorship followed, followed by a phase of “semi-democracy” in the 1980s, in which military rulers and civilian politicians shared power .

After the official withdrawal of the military from politics in 1988, the Thai armed forces still have great power and influence in the state. In addition to their own bank ( Thai Military Bank , TMB), the armed forces have television and radio stations (e.g. Thai TV5 ). In addition, numerous airports in Thailand are used both militarily and civilly.

There were two more coups in 1991 and 2006 , followed by brief military rule. After every military coup, the military restricted freedom of speech, assembly and freedom of the press. The authorities forced the media to self-censure with legal proceedings involving reputational damage, treason or libel . On December 23, 2007 a civilian government was elected again.

On May 22, 2014, after months of political turbulence , the military took power again and has held it to this day - the longest phase of military rule since 1988. Since then, General Prayut Chan-o-cha has been in power. However, the military leadership has secured its influence in the constitution beyond the elections, for example through a Senate appointed by the junta for five years and through a “national strategy” that is valid for 20 years and from which future elected governments may not deviate.


In Pakistan , the military is a state within a state and has held an important position of power in many parts of society , politics and economy since independence . There have been several coups in the history of Pakistan ; a direct military government existed from 1958 to 1971, from 1977 to 1988 and most recently from 1999 to 2002.

United States

In the United States of America , too, in the phase of reconstruction after the civil war from 1861 to 1865, in addition to the occupation by Union troops up to 1877, the influence of the military on society increased. Nevertheless, this 17-year phase is historically seen as the cornerstone of the USA as a world power .

Military governments by occupation

Germany (1945–1949)

In Germany were after the Second World War military governments established by the three victorious powers Great Britain ( CCG / BE ), USA ( OMGUS ) and the Soviet Union ( SMAD ) and by subsequently specified fourth victorious power France ( GMZFO were used) and those of an Allied military governor for the respective occupation zone .

At the summit conference in Potsdam , the three powers determined common guidelines for their future policy. They set their priorities on disarmament, denazification and building a new political order in Germany. In 1947 the Americans and the British formed a bizone , which a short time later was expanded to become the trizone (with the French zone ). This structure was supposed to regulate the economic structure and development of Germany.

Austria (1945–1955)

After 1945 Austria was divided into four zones of occupation and was occupied by the four powers until the signing of the Austrian State Treaty and its withdrawal in 1955.

Japan (1945–1952)

The end of World War II (signing of the surrender of Japan aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945) led to the occupation of Japan by the US and the northern peripheral areas by Soviet troops . The American occupation and military government ( GHQ / SCAP ) ended in 1952 with the peace treaty of San Francisco on the main islands and in 1972 on the Ryūkyū Islands . The Soviet Union refused to sign it, and Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands remained under their rule.

South Korea (1945–1948)

After Japan surrendered in 1945, Korea was occupied by the US armed forces from the south to the 38th parallel and a zone of occupation was established there. The Soviet troops withdrew from the northern occupation zone in 1948. After the unilateral elections on May 10, 1948, in which left forces did not participate, the division of the peninsula was determined. Subsequently, a militant right-wing government ruled in South Korea , which was responsible for numerous massacres in South Korea in the early 1950s. In some cases, under the responsibility of the US military government USAMGIK, the genocide-like massacres began, as in Jeju-do after April 3, 1948 . Some of the massacres were accompanied and photographed by US officers ( Commission for Truth and Reconciliation ).

Further examples


  • Gabriel A. Almond , G. Bingham Powell, Robert J. Mundt (Eds.): Comparative Politics. A theoretical framework. HarperCollins, New York 1993, ISBN 0-673-52282-2 .
  • Raymond D. Duvall, Michael Stohl: Governance by Terror. In: Michael Stohl (Ed.): The Politics of Terrorism (=  Public administration and public policy 18). 2nd edition, revised and expanded. Dekker, New York [u. a.] 1983, ISBN 0-8247-1908-5 , pp. 179-219.
  • Samuel P. Huntington : The third wave. Democratization in the late Twentieth Century (=  The Julian J. Rothbaum distinguished lecture Series 4). University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK 1991, ISBN 0-8061-2346-X .
  • Morris Janowitz, Roger W. Little: Military and Society (=  Praxeologie 1, ZDB -ID 537175-2 ). Boldt, Boppard am Rhein 1965. ***
  • Hans Werner Tobler, Peter Waldmann (Ed.): State and para-state violence in Latin America (=  Iberoamericana. Editions of the Ibero-Americana. Series 5: Monographs and essays 31). Vervuert, Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-89354-831-9 .
  • Alexander Straßner : Military dictatorships in the 20th century. Motives, structures and modernization potentials in comparison, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 978-3-658-02155-9 .

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Carl Joachim Friedrich : Dictatorship. In: Soviet system and democratic society. A comparative encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Image theory to the dictatorship of the proletariat . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau / Basel / Vienna, Sp. 1248.
  2. ^ Maximilian Popp: Military uprising in Turkey: The plan of the putschists. In: Spiegel Online . July 17, 2016, accessed January 2, 2017 .
  3. ^ Occupation 1945–1955. In: Retrieved January 2, 2017 .
  4. Christian Schmidt-Häuer: Kill everyone, burn everything! " In: Die Zeit , No. 22/2002
  5. ( Memento from June 21, 2012 in the Internet Archive )