Institutions and political change : the case of African legislatures
- This dissertation, premised on the notion that the study of institutions is critical for un- derstanding both political and economic development in emerging democracies, seeks to answer two simple questions: What explains both cross-sectional and longitudinal varia- tion in legislative strength under autocracy? And what does this mean for post-transition legislative development in emerging democracies? My answer to the first question is that the strategies of legislative control employed by autocrats determine the extent of organizational development and institutionalization of legislatures in non-democracies. When autocrats use indirect and extra-legislative means of controlling legislators, legislatures are able to develop the requisite institutional mech- anisms of handling intra-elite bargains that characterize the lawmaking process. In other words, much of the lawmaking process takes place within the legislature. However, au- tocratic control through direct meddling in the legislative process leads to stunted organi- zational development and limited institutionalization. Under these conditions, legislatures exist as pure rubber-stamps of bargaining outcomes arrived at elsewhere. In other words, legislatures do not serve as the main arena for intra-elite bargaining and lawmaking -- and much of the lawmaking takes place outside of the legislature. Notice that under autocracy the outcomes of these two strategies are observationally equivalent: for the most part autocrats get laws that are consistent with their preferences. But the strategies have dierential implications for long-run legislative development. The former case leads to legislative institutionalization; while the latter case stunts the process of legislative institutionalization. My answer to the second question is that legislative development under autocracy deter- mines the trajectory of continued evolution after transition to democracy; and in particular, the level of institutionalization at the point of transition. Briefly stated, strong autocratic legislatures provide the foundation for strong democratic legislatures. Since institutional de- velopment takes time, weakly institutionalized legislatures at the point of transition are less likely to benefit from transition to democracy. This observation goes against the received wisdom in the democratic transition literature which views transitions as the founding mo- ment of new and strong democratic institutions. I argue that institutional development after transitions tend to be marked by important continuities, rather than sharp discontinuities; and that understanding pre-transition legislative development is critical for understanding post-transitional evolution of legislatures. I provide empirical evidence to back these claims with material from Kenya and Zambia. The two countries are excellent comparative cases on account of their similarities in back- ground conditions, but also divergence in key outcomes. Both are former British colonies that gained independence under multiparty democracy; went through a period of single party rule; before re-democratizing in the early 1990s. Two general strands of analyses guide my discussion throughout this dissertation. First, I focus on the era of single party rule in Kenya and Zambia (roughly 1970-1990) to explain the observed variation in legislative institutionalization and strength under au- tocracy in the two countries. In my analysis I show that the mode of autocratic control matters for legislative development. The defining characteristic of autocratic legislatures is that they are ultimately under the control of the autocrat. For this reason, legislative outputs under autocracy are invariably consistent with the preferences of the autocrat. This is for the simple reason that the autocrat reserves the right to unilaterally override legislative out- puts (resolutions, laws, or policies). The law of anticipated reactions therefore conditions legislatures to model their final outputs in a manner that makes them consistent with au- tocrats' preferences. Yet the specific modes of achieving this outcome (keeping autocratic legislatures under control) can either promote or stunt organizational development of au- tocratic legislatures. Autocrats can either control legislators through extra-parliamentary means (e.g. through administrative means) or meddle in the aairs of the legislatures (e.g. through political parties). The former strategy promotes the development of organizational forms and structures to handle intra-elite bargains within the legislature (as happened in Kenya). The latter strategy stunts legislative development by shifting the locus of intra-elite bargaining outside of the legislature (as happened in Zambia). In the former case the legis- lature has the focal significance of being the main political game in town. In the latter case it is not. Second, I explain how democratic legislatures can emerge from their autocratic founda- tions. In this part of my analysis I focus on changes in legislative characteristics and outputs in Kenya and Zambia around the time of transition to multiparty politics in the early 1990s. I show how the level of legislative institutionalization at the point of transition -- from autoc- racy to democracy -- impacts further institutional development in the post-transition period. In other words, that autocracies with strong legislatures on the eve of transition are more likely (relative to those with weaker legislatures) to have strong post-transition legislatures. Simply stated, strong autocratic legislatures provide the foundation for strong democratiz- ing legislatures. This point is at once obvious and important. Much of the extant literature on institutional development emphasizes institutional discontinuities at the point of transi- tion as the sources of strong institutions of limited government under democracy. In other words, that inclusive and constraining institutions emerge primarily out of the contractarian bargains around the time of transition. In this dissertation I show in great detail that con- tinuities during the transition process (from autocracy) matter for the emergence of strong legislatures after transition. An overarching idea in my analyses is that history matters because institutions develop over time; and that this process is characterized by the logic of path-dependence. The mate- rial I present cover the process of legislative development in Africa from the colonial period to the present. With large-N empirical evidence from Africa and detailed analyses of legis- latures and elections in Kenya and Zambia, I show how historical variables have structured the observed variation in legislative institutionalization and strength in Africa's emerging democracies after 1990. This dissertation makes several important contributions to the study of institutions and electoral politics. First, the theoretical and empirical approach herein oers a coherent the- ory of institutional development both under autocracy and after transition to democracy. Thus the dissertation links and synthesizes the disparate literatures on autocratic institu- tions on the one hand, and democratic institutions on the other. Second, by providing a rich array of data on African legislatures, this dissertation expands the field of Legislative Studies to include material evidence from non-western democracies. Thus far the literature on legislatures has been dominated by material evidence from the North Atlantic, and in particular, the United States Congress. This dissertation brings data from Africa to bear in answering key questions addressed by students of legislative politics. These include why some presidents choose to rule by decree while others rule by statutes; how fluctuations in the executive-legislative relations and balance of power impact legislative activities and output; the role of parties in condi- tioning legislative institutionalization and development; and how intra-legislative politics explains the observed variation in box scores (proportion of executive initiatives that get passed) across legislatures. Lastly, by focusing on electoral legislative politics in two emerg- ing democracies, this dissertation explains the dynamics of incumbency (dis)advantage in these contexts. Incumbency advantage (over challengers) is an established fact in advanced democracies. But in emerging democracies incumbents tend to be disadvantaged. This dissertation provides a simple political economy explanation for this dierence.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Opalo, Kennedy Ochieng
|Stanford University, Department of Political Science.
|Laitin, David D
|Laitin, David D
|Fearon, James D
|Haber, Stephen H, 1957-
|Fearon, James D
|Haber, Stephen H, 1957-
|Statement of responsibility
|Kennedy Ochieng' Opalo.
|Submitted to the Department of Political Science.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2015.
- © 2015 by Kennedy Ochieng Opalo
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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