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The political economy of constitutional choice: a study of the 2005 Kenyan constitutional referendum

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  • Mwangi Kimenyi
  • William Shughart

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Abstract

Recent studies of the linkages between the wealth of nations and the institutions of governance suggest that concentrating political power in a monarchy or a ruling coalition impedes economic growth and, moreover, that while power-diffusing reforms can enhance the wellbeing of society in general, opposition by groups benefitting from the status quo is predictable. In November 2005, Kenyans rejected a proposed constitution that, despite promises made by their new chief executive, would not have lessened the powers of the presidency. Using a unique, constituency-level dataset on the referendum vote, we estimate a model of the demand for power diffusion and find that ethnic groups' voting decisions are influenced by their expected gains and losses from constitutional change. The results also highlights the importance of ethnic divisions in hindering the power-diffusion process, and thus establish a channel through which ethnic fragmentation adversely impacts economic development.
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Suggested Citation

  • Mwangi Kimenyi & William Shughart, 2010. "The political economy of constitutional choice: a study of the 2005 Kenyan constitutional referendum," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 1-27, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:21:y:2010:i:1:p:1-27
    DOI: 10.1007/s10602-008-9062-4
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Collier & Pedro Vicente, 2012. "Violence, bribery, and fraud: the political economy of elections in Sub-Saharan Africa," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 153(1), pages 117-147, October.
    2. Monica Escaleras & Charles Register, 2012. "Fiscal decentralization and natural hazard risks," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(1), pages 165-183, April.
    3. Mwangi S. Kimenyi & Roxana Gutierrez Romero, 2008. "Tribalism as a Minimax-Regret Strategy: Evidence from Voting in the 2007 Kenyan Elections," Working papers 2008-35, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    4. George Crowley, 2012. "Spatial dependence in constitutional constraints: the case of US states," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 134-165, June.
    5. Stephen Ansolabehere & M. Socorro Puy, 2016. "Identity voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 169(1), pages 77-95, October.
    6. Bedasso, Biniam, 2012. "Lords of Uhuru: the political economy of elite competition and institutional change in post-independence Kenya," MERIT Working Papers 042, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Constitutions; Direct democracy; Public goods; Interest groups; Ethnic divisions; D72; H4; H77; O12;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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