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Legislative Development in Africa

Legislative Development in Africa
Politics and Postcolonial Legacies

$120.00 (C)

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  • Date Published: August 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108492102

$ 120.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • What explains contemporary variations in African legislative institutions – including their strengths and weaknesses? Compared with the more powerful executive branches, legislatures throughout the continent have historically been classified as weak and largely inconsequential to policy-making processes. But, as Ken Ochieng' Opalo suggests here, African legislatures actually serve important roles, and under certain conditions, powerful and independent democratic legislatures can emerge from their autocratic foundations. In this book, Opalo examines the colonial origins of African legislatures, as well as how postcolonial intra-elite politics structured the processes of adapting inherited colonial legislatures to local political contexts and therefore continued legislative development. Through case studies of Kenya and Zambia, Opalo offers a comparative longitudinal study of the evolution of legislative strength and institutionalization as well as a regional survey of legislative development under colonial rule, postcolonial autocratic single-party rule, and multiparty politics throughout Africa.

    • Outlines a simple theory of legislative development over time both under autocracy and following transition to electoral democracy in Africa
    • Offers a new perspective on the relationship between executive strength and autocratic institutionalization
    • Illuminates both the organizational and political origins of legislative institutionalization, strength, and independence, which will appeal to both academics and policy-makers
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    • Co-winner of the 2020 African Politics Conference Group Best Book Award, African Politics Conference Group

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Opalo’s highly original argument makes a major contribution to political science. He substantiates his counter-intuitive claim - that legislatures govern more effectively when democracy emerges from under the thumb of a strong autocrat - with a wealth of qualitative and quantitative evidence from the key cases of Kenya and Zambia. He presents sophisticated ideas with compelling prose. This masterful book contributes to various literatures, including democratic transitions, authoritarian politics, and African studies. A must read.' James Raymond Vreeland, Princeton University, New Jersey

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108492102
    • length: 290 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Legislative development in Africa
    3. Intra-elite politics and credible commitment
    4. Colonial origins of parliaments in Kenya and Zambia
    5. Elite control and legislative development
    6. Legislative institutionalization in time
    7. Electoral politics and legislative independence
    8. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Ken Ochieng' Opalo, Georgetown University, Washington DC
    Ken Ochieng' Opalo is an assistant professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Washington DC. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and B.A. from Yale University, Connecticut. His work has been published in journals such as the British Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Democracy, and the Journal of Eastern African Studies. His research interests include historical institutional development (with a focus on legislatures), the political economy of development, and the politics of the provision of public goods and services. Opalo's research has been supported by Stanford University's Susan Ford Dorsey Fellowship, the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID), and the Omidyar Network.


    • Co-winner of the 2020 African Politics Conference Group Best Book Award, African Politics Conference Group

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