If this isn't an attempted coup, I don't know what it. The Republicans are the properly elected heads of this legislative - they had the votes. Although some Democrats joined the Republicans, there was no shady dealing, "fudging" the ballots or qualifications, or any of that stuff.
The Democrats are using the technique of refusing to leave. Their protest is unprecedented in American politics.
I love the headline of this news report - "Republicans Seize Control of State Senate".
From the Wikipedia article:
Democrats have argued that the move was illegal, and therefore Malcolm Smith is still the majority leader and temporary president. One argument presented is that the session was adjourned before the vote to change leadership took place. According to Malcolm Smith, senator Neil Breslin had accepted a motion to adjourn, and therefore ended the session, before the Republicans were able to gain control. Senator Libous argues that since his original motion was on the floor, the session could not have been adjourned. According to Libous, who based his argument upon Robert's Rules of Order, the rules of order used by the state Senate, “you cannot adjourn when a motion is on the floor.” Furthermore, like all motions, motions for adjournment require a vote, which never took place before the Senators left.
Malcolm Smith claims that the attempted power shift was not legal, even if the resolution was passed, and issued a statement saying that he "was elected to a two year term pursuant to a resolution passed by a majority of Senators in January 2009", and that "the purported coup was an unlawful violation of New York State law and the Senate rules" which he does not accept. However, contrary to Smith's personal opinion, the Majority Leader is not elected to a fixed term, but remains in office only as long as the majority supports him, as the ouster of Ralph J. Marino in November 1994 shows. The election of Joseph Bruno, to succeed Marino against the latter's wishes, was not disputed by either Republicans or Democrats.
Angelo Aponte, the Secretary of the Senate, has further complicated matters by refusing to recognize the coalition, and has engaged in various efforts to prevent them from taking control, including locking Senate chambers, cutting off lights and video cameras, locking away bills, and withholding the court stenographer. Senate Republicans have sought legal action against Aponte for his behavior.
But, hey, there's a bright spot - with the split, new legislation can't be enacted - the votes are too close. So, at least they won't cause any more damage.
Hmmm. Maybe we can encourage the US House to do the same - at least abominations like the Cap & Trade bill will stop.