January 2023 | Governing parties maintain majority in legislature, but opposition gains representation
Benin’s legislative elections on 8 January were closely watched as an indicator of the country’s democratic trajectory. Opposition parties had been prevented from participating in the last legislative elections in 2019, however five opposition parties were on the ballot in 2023. Most notably, the Democrats overcame procedural hurdles and won 28 seats in the 109-seat parliament. The two parties allied with President Talon, the Republican Bloc and the Progressive Union for Renewal, won 28 and 53 seats, respectively. Women’s representation also improved, with 28 women taking seats in the new parliament, 22 more than before. Opposition parties have levied accusations of electoral fraud. Observers from the Economic Community of West African States noted that the election was ‘conducted in a calm and peaceful atmosphere.’ Unlike the 2019 election, there was no violence, and no shutdown of the Internet. Turnout was reported to be 38.6 per cent of the registered voters. This is a significant increase from the 27.2 per cent who voted in 2019.
November 2022 | Opposition party candidate list accepted ahead of January election
As Benin prepares for the January 2023 legislative elections, political parties were required to submit their candidate lists to the National Autonomous Electoral Commission (CENA) for verification. The inadmissibility of any candidate results in the rejection of the entire list. In the case of the opposition party, The Democrats, four candidates (out of 218) were found to be lacking certificates from the tax authority and the party list was rejected, potentially eliminating the party from contesting the election. However, the party appealed this decision to the Constitutional Court. On 19 November, the Court ruled in the party’s favour, requiring CENA to allow The Democrats to submit a new list of candidates. The second list was accepted as valid. This brings the number of parties contesting the legislative election to seven, including the main opposition parties.