Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 May 2021
Legislatures are key institutions that stabilize authoritarian rule. However, less is said about the individuals who populate these institutions or the pathways that take them to power. This is an oversight, since how autocrats recruit reflects upon their institutional capacities and adaptation to changing circumstances. Specifically, recruitment is challenging when regimes lack robust ruling parties to cultivate partisan loyalists and during periods of multiparty elections when candidates must provide a higher degree of self-financing. This article examines these dynamics across the lifespan of Cameroon's authoritarian regime and introduces an original biographical data set of over 900 legislators between 1973 and 2019. The data show there is an increased proportion of businesspeople in the legislature, but also a possible emerging preference for former civil servants. The article argues that civil service recruitment pipelines substitute for the monitoring functions a party might serve, while simultaneously preparing candidates for the unique financing needs of elections.