Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

John C Kilwein

Committee Co-Chair

Karleen West

Committee Member

Neil B Berch

Committee Member

Philip A Michelbach

Committee Member

Janice S Spleth


Constitutional stability is usually perceived as an invaluable asset in democratic regimes. Constitutional amendments become suspicious when they occur too often, particularly in countries newly engaged in the democratic process. This dissertation argues that recent constitutional amendments in democratizing Francophone West African countries are not necessarily made to advance democracy or the rule of law. Instead, they are designed to reinforce the political agenda of incumbent power-holders. Using a case study of three Francophone African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, and Senegal), I try to understand why there are so many constitutional amendments in so short a period of time in these fragile democratic countries. Is this phenomenon of frequent constitutional amendment due to the nature of these countries' constitutions that are made too easy to amend? Is it rather due to the weakness of the opposition parties and civil society, or can the phenomenon be explained by the absence of judicial independence, due to an overshadowing of other branches of the government by the executive power?