Three Essays on the Dynamics of Legislatures in Monarchical Regimes: Kuwait’s National Assembly
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The Literature on institutions in authoritarian regimes has made important advances in terms of our understanding of how these institutions affect political and economic outcomes, like regime survival, stability, and economic growth. Despite these important advances the literature’s macro approach has often mean that we know very little about the actual internal dynamics of these institutions. For example, how are legislators actually selected in authoritarian assemblies? And how do these legislatures behave once they make it into an authoritarian assembly? Moreover, there is often an assumption that these institutions have a uniform effect regardless of the authoritarian regime type. To be sure a few studies have attempted to rectify this shortcoming by examining the internal dynamics of legislatures using single case studies. Yet these studies focused on single party regimes leaving other regime types unexplored. I attempt to fill this gap by examining these dynamics within the context of monarchical regimes. I use the case of the Kuwaiti National Assembly (KNA) to answer three important questions about the internal dynamics of legislatures in monarchical regimes. In the first paper I examine the function of these legislatures using votes on economic issues. I find that monarchical regimes contrary to conventional wisdom are not just simply venues for the distribution of rent but also serve as venues to contest long term economic policies. In the second paper I examine how legislators are selected in monarchical regimes with no dominant ruling parties. I show that these types of regimes deliberately choose electoral formulas that not only encourage the multiplication and fragmentation of political blocs and electoral lists, but also disadvantage larger political blocs and electoral lists by discouraging coordination between them. In the third paper I explore how legislators in authoritarian regimes behave and vote once they make it into the assembly. In find that dimensions of conflict are and voting in monarchical regimes is multidimensional. One dimension is based on a social divide dimension that stems from the lack of an institutionalized party structure, and another dimensions is based on a pro- and anti- government divide that is based on the positions legislators take vis-à-vis the government in motions of confidence. These findings are important because they facilitate a comparison with other authoritarian regimes types especially with the available studies on single party regimes.