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Parliamentary Representation in Electoral Authoritarian Regimes

Comparative Politics
Democratisation
Parliaments
Representation
Esther Somfalvy
Universität Bremen
Esther Somfalvy
Universität Bremen

Abstract

Parliaments in electoral authoritarian regimes and their members (MPs) spend considerable resources on constituency-related activities. MPs in such regimes face the challenge to maintain a balance between on the one hand, fulfilling their constitutionally defined tasks and with this potentially serving the regime and, on the other hand, exploiting niches for independent action. How, I ask in this paper, do MPs in non-democratic regimes represent the citizens, and how do they resolve the conflict between serving the people while remaining within the legal boundaries of their tasks? I conduct an exploratory paired comparison of Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic (2007-2015) based on original interview material. I argue that patterns of activities and the focus on particular sub-constituencies can be traced back to first, how limited political pluralism is and second, the degree of party system institutionalization (which reflects how consolidated authoritarian hold in power is).