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Legislative Power in Emerging African Democracies

Joel D. Barkan, editor
Legislative Power in Emerging African Democracies
ISBN: 978-1-58826-688-0
ISBN: 978-1-62637-111-8
2009/277 pages/LC: 2009026969

"Presents important insights that will advance understandings and future research on these critical institutions.... An unqualified success."—Peter VonDoepp, African Studies Review

"Timely and well conceived.... A much needed and impressively coherent collection that brings together some of the finest political scientists working on Africa to break new ground in the study of African politics."—Nic Cheeseman, Journal of Modern African Studies

"In method and exposition, this volume is a service to social science and policy-making.... Provides readers insight into the current state of democracies in Africa and how their individual legislative bodies can help direct the continent's future."—Harvey Glickman, ASMEA Newsletter

"A major contribution to the study of democratic institution building in developing countries, exposing the slow, complex, and halting process by which African legislatures become effective instruments of representation and accountability."—Larry Diamond, Stanford University

"This first comparative exploration of African legislatures is strongly recommended for anyone interested in the real world dynamics of institutional and democratic development. Barkan and his colleagues make a valuable contribution.... a fine piece of analysis."—Michael Bratton, Michigan State University

"This is an immensely valuable book. It provides fascinating new insights into the consequences of the reemergence of competitive politics in Africa, into the conditions under which legislative institutions have developed so variously in six different African countries, and into the general relationship between civil society and the power of legislatures."—Gerhard Loewenberg, University of Iowa


A puzzle underpins this groundbreaking study of legislative development in Africa: Why are variations in the extent of legislative authority and performance across the continent only partially related, if at all, to the overall level of democratization? And if democratization is not the prime determinant of legislative authority, what is?

Exploring the constraints that have retarded the development and power of legislatures across Africa—and how members of some legislatures are breaking free of those constraints—the authors shed new light on the impact of the legislative branch on the political process in six emerging African democracies.


The late Joel D. Barkan was professor emeritus of political science at the University of Iowa and senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. A long-time student of democratization and political economy across anglophone Africa, his numerous publications include Beyond Capitalism and Socialism in Kenya and Tanzania.


  • African Legislatures and the "Third Wave" of Democratization—J.D. Barkan.
  • Kenya’s Tortuous Path to Successful Legislative Development—J.D. Barkan and F. Matiangi.
  • The Rise and Ebb of Uganda's No-Party Parliament—N. Kasfir and S.H. Twebaze.
  • Benin: Legislative Development in Africa's First Democratizer—L. Adamolekun and M. Laleye.
  • Co-optation Despite Democratization in Ghana—S.I. Lindberg with Y. Zhou.
  • Rules and Rents in Nigeria's National Assembly—P.M. Lewis.
  • South Africa: Emerging Legislature or Rubber Stamp?—J.D. Barkan.
  • Conclusion—J.D. Barkan.