n Journal of African Elections - The 2011 presidential election in Benin : explaining the success of one of two firsts

Volume 10, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



Since 1991 Benin has been considered a model of democratisation in Africa. Indeed, since its first multiparty elections in the post-Cold War era, held in March 1991, three different heads of state have alternated at the helm of the country, each coming and leaving according to the prevailing constitutional norms. All of them have been 'independent' candidates, not supported by a specific political party. Each of the presidential elections has gone into a run-off poll and the main opposition parties have failed to coalesce behind one of theirs in an attempt to win the presidency. But for the 2011 election, the main political parties formed an alliance, in the hope of defeating the incumbent candidate, who nevertheless won in the first round. It was the first time the opposition had formed such a formidable coalition and the first time, too, that a presidential candidate won without a run-off. This article attempts to explain this apparent 'anomaly' in Beninese politics and, in doing so, sheds some light on the main candidates in the 2011 election, the stakes involved and how the poll compared to previous ones. It concludes that incumbent president Boni Yayi may have won fairly on election day, but that a rigged voters' roll played a role in his victory.

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