The politics of legislative development

Authored by: Ken Ochieng’ Opalo

Routledge Handbook of Democratization in Africa

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138081246
eBook ISBN: 9781315112978
Adobe ISBN:


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What explains contemporary variation in the institutional forms and powers of African legislatures? This chapter answers this question through a historical overview of the evolution of African legislatures from the colonial period to the present. The evidence suggests that the duration of the colonial experience with legislatures is positively correlated with legislative institutionalization and strength in the postcolonial period. At the same time, the process of adapting inherited colonial legislatures to the African context generated variation in the continued evolution of these institutions. More secure postcolonial African presidents tolerated relatively autonomous legislatures, thereby facilitating their organizational and institutional development. Insecure presidents foreclosed on legislative institutionalization. Combined, the nature of the colonial inheritance and experience under autocratic rule in the immediate postcolonial period explain the trajectories of legislative development and institutionalization in Africa over the past thirty years.

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