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The legislature as political control: change and continuity in Cameroon's National Assembly (1973–2019)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2021

Yonatan L. Morse*
Department of Political Science, University of Connecticut, 365 Fairfield Way, U-1024, Storrs, CT06269-1024, USA


A growing literature has begun to more closely examine African legislatures. However, most of this research has been attentive to emerging democratic settings, and particularly the experiences of a select number of English-speaking countries. By contrast, Cameroon is a Francophone majority country that reintroduced multiparty politics in the early 1990s but continues to exhibit significant authoritarian tendencies. This article provides a longitudinal analysis of Cameroon's National Assembly and builds on a unique biographical dataset of over 900 members of parliament between 1973 and 2019. The article describes changes in the structure and orientation of the legislature as well as the social profile of its members, in particular following the transition to multipartyism. While the legislature in Cameroon remains primarily a tool of political control, it is more dynamic, and the mechanisms used to manage elites within the context of complex multiethnic politics have evolved.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Funding for this study was provided by the University of Connecticut's Scholarship Facilitation Fund. My sincere thanks go to Veronique Ntamack, Fru Norbert Suh I and Yacoubah Moluh for their invaluable assistance on this project. Thanks also go to Anja Osei and the participants in the ‘Parliaments and Democracy in Africa’ workshop held in Dakar, Senegal, 17–20 March 2019.



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