Freedom in the World
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Swaziland received a downward trend arrow due to a major crackdown on oppositionist and prodemocracy groups before and during organized demonstrations in September 2010.
In September 2010, prodemocracy demonstrations in Manzini were preceded and followed by a state-sponsored crackdown on oppositionist activists, including trade unionists and members of banned political parties.
Swaziland is not an electoral democracy. King Mswati III is an absolute monarch with ultimate authority over the cabinet, legislature, and judiciary. Of the House of Assembly’s 65 members, 55 are elected by popular vote within the tinkhundla system, in which local chiefs vet all candidates. The king appoints the other 10 members. The king also appoints 20 members of the 30-seat Senate, with the remainder selected by the House of Assembly. Parliament members, all of whom serve five-year terms, are not allowed to initiate legislation. Traditional chiefs govern designated localities and typically report directly to the king.