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Constrained Presidential Power in Africa? Legislative Independence and Executive Rule Making in Kenya, 1963–2013

  • Ken Ochieng’ Opalo (a1)

Do institutions constrain presidential power in Africa? Conventional wisdom holds that personalist rule grants African presidents unchecked powers. Consequently, there is very little research on African institutions such as legislatures and their impact on executive authority. In this article, the author uses original data on the exercise of presidential authority (issuance of subsidiary legislation) to examine how legislative independence conditions presidential rule making in Kenya. The study exploits quasi-exogenous changes in legislative independence, and finds that Kenyan presidents issue relatively more Legal Notices under periods of legislative weakness, but are constrained from doing so under periods of legislative independence. These findings shed new light on institutional politics in Kenya, and illustrate how executive–legislative relations in the country conform to standard predictions in the literature on unilateral executive action.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
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