Executive-Legislative Relations, Party Defections, and Lower-Level Administrative Unit Proliferation: Evidence from Kenya

Sheely, Ryan; Hassan, Mai (2017)


Sheely, Ryan, and Mai Hassan. 2017. “Executive-Legislative Relations, Party Defections, And Lower-Level Administrative Unit Proliferation: Evidence From Kenya”. Comparative Political Studies 50 (12): 1595-1631.
Over the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of subnational administrative units within many developing countries. Existing literature has argued that this proliferation is motivated by presidents seeking to win re-election in the context of the introduction of multiparty elections. However, this finding is largely a consequence of an empirical focus on the creation of the largest administrative divisions of the state. We argue that lower-level administrative unit proliferation can instead help an executive meet another goal in new multiparty systems – legislative compliance. An executive creates new lower-level units within constituencies of party legislators to ensure their legislative support and, in weak party systems, to prevent party defections. We find evidence supporting this argument using a unique dataset from Kenya. These findings illuminate the competing pressures faced by presidents under multiparty elections and how leaders can use administrative decentralization to undermine legislative checks against executive power in new democracies.