Background Reports on Benin Available
In preparation for upcoming parliamentary elections in Benin, Freedom House is providing background information on the state of political rights and civil liberties in the country.
A stable democracy located in an otherwise tumultuous region, Benin held its first genuine multiparty elections in 1991 and now has dozens of political parties. The 2006 presidential election was widely anticipated as a measure of Benin’s democratic progress because the two key players on Benin’s political stage were ineligible to run. Despite doubts that the sitting president would refuse to abdicate the presidency, power was officially and peacefully transferred to an independent candidate in what was widely viewed as a competitive and fair race.
Benin ranks as Free in the 2007 edition of Freedom House’s annual survey, Freedom in the World. The country received a rating of 2 (on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the lowest) for political rights and another 2 for civil liberties.
Benin is an electoral democracy. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression are largely respected and the press is highly independent and pluralistic. Freedom of assembly is respected, and numerous nongovernmental organizations and human rights groups operate freely. The judiciary is generally considered to be independent and among the more sophisticated in West Africa, but is inefficient and susceptible to corruption. More broadly, corruption continues to be endemic in Benin, although not at the level of some neighboring countries.
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Freedom House, an independent non-governmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Benin since 1972.