The role of parliaments in holding the executive accountable is a neglected topic in the study of the democratization process in sub-Saharan Africa. In particular there is a lack of studies measuring executive-legislative relations over a long period of time, and few may serve as basis for comparative analysis across countries. This working paper sets out to develop a framework for an analysis of the accountability relationship between the legislature and the executive. Although the empirical illustrations throughout the paper are from Tanzania it is believed that the framework can also serve as a useful guideline for analysis and comparison in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The paper's point of departure is the legitimation and decisional/influence functions of parliament - the functions considered of greatest importance for assessing parliament's ability to hold the executive accountable. The policy making function of parliament is seen as the core component of the latter while social legitimacy is believed to strongly impact on the legitimation function of parliament. These are in turn dependent on two sets of key variables which may be categorized into external and internal variables. The analytical framework is constructed by identifying indicators along all the variables and with two basic anticipations in mind: Parliament's basic accountability function is determined by external factors such as social legitimacy, constitutional powers and external agents. Variables which can reinforce parliament's accountability function, but not determine it, are the committee system, party and party groups, and the various characteristics of the chamber.