Benin: President’s coalition winning

Updated below (10 April)

By way of Independent On-Line (South Africa), preliminary returns from Benin’s legislative elections show President Thomas Boni Yayi’s coalition will control the National Assembly.

Control of parliament, previously dominated by the political elite which Yayi swept aside after winning last year’s presidential election, is key to reforms in the cotton-producing country, including a crackdown on graft.

I guess this answers my question, posed when I was outlining the institutional background to the election, of whether former President Mathieu Kérékou (whose term ended about one year ago) had retained control of the legislature. And, as I noted there, and as the excerpt above also alludes to, control of the legislature is essential, given the institutional weakness of Benin’s presidency.

With results from Saturday’s poll still due from some areas, Yayi’s Cowrie Forces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE) coalition had won 35 of the 83 seats in parliament, and could take control with its minor allies and without the rival Alliance for a Dynamic Democracy (ADD).

(Emerging Benin and Dynamic Democracy! Party naming just isn’t what it used to be.)

When the full results are available by district, I will break them down. I suspect that the low magnitude results in a fairly personalized politics, even though the system is closed-list PR in which most party lists are actually electing only one or two members. If so, then the actual effects and incentives of the electoral system would be rather more like SNTV than PR.

Update: Via The Head Heeb, “The Forces for an Emerging Benin won 35 of the 83 seats in the 31 March poll, followed by the Alliance for a Dynamic Democracy with 20 seats, which includes the party of former president Nicéphore Soglo.” Jonathan notes that in the year between his own election and these legislative elections, President Boni had “faced a legislative majority that was hostile to his reforms, and it was rumored that Kerekou was masterminding the opposition.”

Jonathan also adds this tidbit that I had not seen before. Former President Kérékou:

attempted to evade the constitutional two-term limit in 2006 by claiming that there wasn’t enough money to finance a general election. After that dodge was thwarted by a coalition of businessmen who offered to finance the vote themselves, Kerekou bowed out gracefully.

Nice try!

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