Democratic Transition and Democratic Survival in Benin

Democratization 15.4 (2008): 789-814.

Posted: 28 Jul 2014

See all articles by Rachel M. Gisselquist

Rachel M. Gisselquist

United Nations - World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU/WIDER)

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

Through its National Conference in 1990 and presidential and legislative elections in 1991, Benin successfully undertook a transition to democracy. Notwithstanding some electoral irregularities, this (minimal) democracy has survived since, witnessing three successful alternations of executive power. A 'deviant' case, Benin is not well explained by theories of democratization that highlight economic development and diffusion effects. In examining the Beninese case, this article focuses on the transition in three stages: the collapse of the incumbent government; the transition to democracy; and the survival (or 'consolidation') of minimal democracy thereafter. In explaining each of these stages, it argues that different factors were key: in the first, economic crisis exacerbated existing weaknesses in the incumbent government; in the second, external actors supported democratization, while diverse domestic groups contributed to a process that was not dominated by any single group; and in the third, domestic leadership and institutional incentives became particularly important. The article concludes by discussing democratic deepening in Benin.

Keywords: Benin, democratic transition, democratization, National Conference, West Africa

Suggested Citation

Gisselquist, Rachel M., Democratic Transition and Democratic Survival in Benin (2008). Democratization 15.4 (2008): 789-814.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2466373

Rachel M. Gisselquist (Contact Author)

United Nations - World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU/WIDER) ( email )

Katajanokanlaituri 6B
Helsinki, FIN-00160
Finland

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