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Decentralization, Executive Selection, and Citizen Views on the Quality of Local Governance in African Countries


Year published: 2018
Categories: Journal Article
URL Link: https://doi.org/10.1093/publius/pjy031

Author / Authors:

  • Michelle T Kuenzi
  • Gina M S Lambright


Do institutions influence the quality of local governance in Africa? We examine determinants of citizens’ perceptions of the quality of local government using Afrobarometer survey data for twenty-six sub-Saharan African countries and country-level variables. We find that the method of selecting chief executives is a significant factor in citizen evaluations of local governance. Citizens tend to view local governments as less responsive when the chief executive is directly elected. They also perceive the performance and probity of local government more negatively when the chief executive is appointed by the national government. Greater expenditure control is a double-edged sword. Citizens in areas with greater local control over public expenditures perceive local officials to be more responsive, yet also more corrupt. Citizens in areas with greater administrative decentralization tend to view corruption as less widespread. These results suggest that the direct election of local executives is not a panacea and the capacity of local governments should be considered before decentralization is deepened.

The Journal of Federalism


  • Journal Article