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The Concentration of Authority: Constitutional Creation in the Gold Coast, 1950

Kathryn Firmin-Sellers

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 1995, vol. 7, issue 2, 201-222

Abstract: In the past 30 years, scholars have advanced a number of explanations for the rise of authoritarian rule throughout Africa. Scholars have attributed authoritarian rule to the weakness of the one-party state and to the legacy of colonial rule. In this paper, I argue that the roots of authoritarian rule lie in the politics of transition, the period in which the new institutions of government were first created. Drawing on the analytical insights of the New Institutionalism, I argue that we cannot understand the politics of this transition process unless we consider (1) the actors' beliefs about the political environment; (2) the procedure through which the new institutions were created; and (3) the path-dependent nature of institutional creation. I then use these concepts to analyze a single instance of constitutional creation: the drafting and implementation of the Gold Coast constitution of 1950. I conclude that, in an effort to control the outcome of the constitutional negotiations, the British colonial government adopted procedures that encouraged indigenous actors to concentrate political authority.

Keywords: New Institutionalism; beliefs; procedure; path-dependent (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1995
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