Benin is a Francophone West African country. Between the 1970s and the beginning of the 1990s the Benin Government was based on Marxist-Leninist principles. In 1991, the government became a multi-party state. The economy of Benin is highly dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production and regional trade. As much as the official language is French, the locals mostly use their indigenous languages, even in most schools. Benin has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, it is estimated to be 38.4%.

Political Profile/Structure/System

Benin is a presidential representative democratic republic. The president is both the head of state and head of government. Benin was under a military government between 1972 and 1991 after a military coup. It was headed by Major Mathieu Kérékou. With the encouragement of France and other international bodies, Kerekou introduced a democratic constitution. Therefore, Benin is considered to be the first African country to successfully compete the succession from dictatorship to a pluralistic political system.
In the new constitution, the president is elected for a maximum of two five year terms. Presidential candidates must be between 40 and 70 years old.

The Legislature is unicameral and has 83 seats. Each member of the legislature is elected for a 4 year term.

Elections and Political Parties

Benin has both legislative elections and presidential elections. The most recent presidential elections were in 2016 while the most recent legislative elections were in 2015.
In the 2016 presidential elections, campaigning was only permitted for a 15 day period before the elections. There were 33 presidential candidates and more than 15 political parties participated. Provisional results placed Lionel Zinzou first with 28.43% and Patrice Talon second with 24.73%, therefore, Zinsou and Talon faced each other in the second round of voting. In the second round of voting, Talcon won with 65.37 %. Therefore Patrice Talcon became president. In the 2015 legislative elections, 83 members are elected in 24 multi-member constituencies based on the country’s department.

Elections and Political Parties ContDolor Sit Amet

ASeats are allocated using proportional representation based on the simple quotient, with the remaining seats assigned using the largest remainder method.

This means that the number of seats per political party is dependant on the percentage of votes they get. Therefore, the party with the most votes gets the most seats. Cowry Forces for Emerging Benin got the most votes, 30.19% of the electorate, therefore getting 33 seats. Observers from the African Union stated that the election was generally transparent.

By the Numbers

Women in parliament - 8.4% (2013)
Females over 25 with secondary education - 11.2% (2012) 
Women in labour force -67.5% (2012)


Participation and Inclusion

Women in Benin have limited access to public office, this is probably because of their lack of access to education and traditional laws and customary behavior.
In 2010 the National Assembly, passed a law that set the statutory quota for women to 20% in lists for parliamentary elections. This law was however overturned by the Constitutional Court stating that the quota for women candidates would represent a violation of the principle of gender equality guaranteed by the Constitution. Therefore, Benin has no policies that ensure the participation and inclusion of women in politics.