Needed: A legal framework for strengthening oversight role of Kenyan parliament
Based on new research, this brief sets out a framework to improve the accountability of the Executive to the Kenyan parliament.
This policy brief is drawn from a research paper on Horizontal Accountability of the Executive to the Legislature in Africa: A Case of Kenya. The research adopted a mixed methods approach that was QUAL-Quan, in-depth interviews were held with Members of the County Assemblies (MCA) and officers at the National Cereals and Produce Board. Desk top reviews of the Parliamentary Debates Reports (Hansard), parliamentary accounts committee report, the state of the nation address document and media reports were also carried out. Key questions revolved around: the mechanisms used by parliament to get information on the performance of the executive, responses to questions and requests for reports and statements, legislative outputs in terms of bills and types of bills and the work of PAC. The evidence gathered revealed gaps in the horizontal accountability of the Executive to the Legislature. This brief explains this and proposes a framework of optimizing horizontal accountability in the Kenyan parliament.
Mind the gap, understanding the policy and practice of horizontal accountability mechanisms in Argentina
This brief is based on new research examining the accountability of the Executive to the Legislature in Argentina, leading to a set of specific recommendations to improve ‘horizontal accountability’.
While some threats to institutional quality still exist in specific countries, democracy has become the ‘only game in town’ in Latin America. But institutional weaknesses remain. This Policy Brief explores one of those weaknesses. It looks at the relationship between the executive and the legislature, and examines the question of horizontal accountability. Horizontal accountability expresses the concern for checks and oversight, for surveillance and institutional constraints on the exercise of power between the branches of government. It involves several ways of preventing and correcting the abuse of power. It opens up power for public inspection, forcing it to explain and justify its actions. A key component of horizontal accountability mechanisms is the existence of sanctions. In other words, accountability exists when the actions taken by executive bodies are held subject to oversight from the legislative authorities. But, is there a gap between what the law demands in terms of accountability and what actually happens? When horizontal accountability performance is low, good governance, transparency and the quality of democracy itself are put in jeopardy.
By studying a set of accountability mechanisms the brief demonstrates that horizontal accountability is working imperfectly in Argentina. Key gaps relate to loopholes in regulations and to low incentives for both the executive and legislature to comply with existing regulations. Recommendations are presented focused on strengthening horizontal accountability mechanisms through an improvement to regulations, policies and institutions. The existence of specific regulations that assign responsibilities, set deadlines and sanctions is of vital importance. The findings and recommendations from the Argentine case have important lessons for capacity building in other democracies as well.