The Double Misperception? Public Expectations and MP Orientations to Legislative Roles in Africa
Most analysts of African politics claim that the relationship between citizens and elected representatives is not one of principals and agents, but rather one of clients and patrons. I provide an initial interrogation of this common wisdom with data from the African Legislatures Project, describing across 17 countries how members of parliament understand their own roles, and what African citizens expect from their MPs. Neither MP role orientations nor citizen expectations neatly conform to the common wisdom. There is a great deal of variation across the continent, and much of it has to do with electoral system design. Single member constituencies, particularly, provide a range of interesting dynamics that produce surprising gaps between what citizens want and what their MPs do.