Saviors or Spoilers? Explaining “Civil Society Coups” among Democratizing Regimes


  • Aries A. Arugay A. Arugay Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines


Mainstream literature on civil society has emphasized its positive impact on democratization. However, some democratizing regimes have experienced civil society mobilization that resulted to the ouster of elected leaders. These “civil society coups” cast doubt on their status as unconditional defenders of democracy. This outcome is due to a conjunction of several conditions such as: anti-systemic leadership, failure of democratic accountability institutions, and a moderating form of military intervention. A comparative analysis of the Philippines, Venezuela, and Thailand is undertaken to test this argument. It concludes that civil society actions could generate unintended consequences detrimental to democratization.

Keywords: democratization; civil society, coups d’état, Southeast Asia


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How to Cite

Arugay, A. A. A. A. (2015). Saviors or Spoilers? Explaining “Civil Society Coups” among Democratizing Regimes. Thammasat Review, 16(1), 167–187. Retrieved from