Executive power and horizontal accountability

Authored by: Landry Signé

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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One of the most critical obstacles facing emerging or consolidating democracies in Africa is the hyper-executive power that too often weakens and subsequently dominates institutions of horizontal accountability, negatively affecting the quality of democracy and thus threatening its survival. Between 1994 and 2018, democracy was interrupted in countries such as Mali or Niger, under hyper-domination and centralization of executive power, and weak and dependent institutions of horizontal accountability (legislature, judiciary, national elections commission, general auditing commission, anti-corruption commission, and other constitutional institutions, etc.). What is horizontal accountability, how to study and measure it, especially its capacity to facilitate the exercise of oversight over the executive? Why does it matter for democratic development in Africa, including in addressing of the so-called “Big Man” syndrome? In this chapter, we answer these questions and present an overview of the key themes and insights that have emerged from study of executive power and horizontal accountability, while providing illustrative examples of enigmatic countries such as Benin, Ghana, Liberia, and Malawi.

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