Legislatures and Political Stability: An Exploratory Analysis

William Mishler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Although most legislatures do not play significant roles in the lawmaking, policy, or resource allocation processes, their durability and resilience as institutions are widely assumed to be consequences of the contributions they make to the maintenance of political order and stability. Even token legislatures and those dominated by authoritarian regimes frequently are credited with promoting stability by providing forums for symbolic representation and ritualistic dissent. However, analyses of the relationships among legislature structure, political stability, and the legislative environment across more than 100 countries demonstrate that the capacities of legislatures to promote stability are strictly limited, hinge substantially upon their representativeness and effectiveness in policymaking and resource allocation, and are easily overwhelmed where societal cleavages are severe, resources are limited, or complementary democratic institutions are lacking. Genuinely effective and responsive legislatures enhance the stability of democratic regimes, but token legislatures and legislatures in authoritarian regimes have little impact on stability and may even exacerbate political disorder and violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-59
Number of pages35
JournalThe Journal of Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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