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Despite various works suggesting the contrary, legislatures in non-democratic states are overwhelmingly generalised as ‘rubber-stamps’ that provide nothing other than latent legitimacy for those in power. Based on examination of legislatures in 10 of the world's most undemocratic
states this paper highlights their capacity to act in precisely the opposite manner, serving to empower citizens, strengthen opposition groups and weaken dictatorial regimes. Whilst recognising that legislatures can be manipulated and subjugated by such regimes, the article seeks to highlight
the variations between legislatures and the need to take account of their true potential.