Democratic Transition and Democratic Survival in Benin
Democratization 15.4 (2008): 789-814.
Posted: 28 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2008
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
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