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Accepted Paper:

Institutional Change and Shifting Legislative Role Orientations in Autocracies: Evidence from Cameroon  
Yonatan Morse (University of Connecticut)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how changes in candidate selection impacts role orientations in an authoritarian legislature. Using original data from Cameroon, decentralizing candidate selection pushes legislators towards the constituency, creating possible hazard for authoritarian regime stability.

Paper long abstract:

Comparatively less is known about individual legislators in authoritarian settings. Do they respond similarly to the institutional features of political competition as do their parallels in established democracies? Can factors like district magnitude or the candidate selection process impact whether they are more accountable to the constituency rather than the party? This paper examines these questions with an original survey of members of Cameroon’s 9th National Assembly. The survey uses multidimensional ranked-choice questions to measure a key concept from the comparative literature on legislatures – legislative role orientations. Cameroon, a longstanding electoral authoritarian regime, also provides unique leverage since it has strategically altered district magnitudes and experimented for a time with local primaries. The results show that, controlling for other factors, the district magnitude has little impact on legislative role orientations. However, decentralized candidate selection processes do push legislators to orient more strongly with the interest of the constituency. These findings provide novel views into the inner workings of authoritarian legislatures, and suggest that certain institutional changes that might appear necessary to autocrats to cope with challenges like multiparty elections also create their own kinds of hazard.

Panel Poli15
Lawmakers' constituency service in Africa: fostering accountability, development, and democracy?
  Session 1 Thursday 1 June, 2023, -