12:30—2:00 PM
Center for Global Development
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Autocratic Origins of Democratic Institutions in Kenya and Zambia

Ken Opalo
Georgetown University

Eric Kramon
George Washington University

Todd Moss
Chief Operating Officer and Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

Under what conditions can electoral politics lead to the emergence of strong legislatures? An underlying assumption in much of the literature on democratization and democratic consolidation is that electoral competition strengthens both vertical and horizontal accountability. Yet the spread of multiparty elections over the last two decades has resulted in varying levels of legislative institutionalization and strength in much of the developing world. With data on legislative activity in Kenya and Zambia under both autocracy and democracy, Ken Opalo argues that legislative strength at the point of transition conditions both the rate and direction of legislative development after transition. In other words, that institutional development takes time and spans the transition moment. This is a departure from the current literature on autocratic and democratic institutions that (over) emphasize the significance of discontinuities around regime transitions.

*The CIRF series is an academic research seminar that brings some of the world's leading development scholars to discuss their new research and ideas. The presentations are at times technical, but retain a focus on a mixed audience of researchers and policymakers. There’s more about the series here.

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