Benin: Parliament Amends Electoral Code Amidst Opposition

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In a late-night session, Benin’s parliamentarians voted to amend the electoral code, sparking dissent from the minority opposition. The Constitutional Court’s directive on January 4th necessitated adjustments to the electoral law to prevent overlap in the dates of the 2026 general elections and to address issues of sponsorship parity. However, the approved code extended beyond these directives, incorporating elements of exclusion, according to opposition voices.

With 28 opposition deputies voting against, they fell short due to the requirement for a simple majority. Conversely, 79 votes were cast in favor, with one abstention.

The abstaining member from President Patrice Talon’s camp immediately highlighted the deviation of the National Assembly from the Court’s guidelines, citing additional modifications beyond the calendar and sponsorship requirements.

Two newly added amendments voted on during the night, have irked the opposition:

Firstly, the increase in presidential candidate sponsorships from 10% to 15%, requiring 28 sponsors, coincidentally the exact number of Democrats in parliament. This is deemed too restrictive and precarious in a country where political defection is practiced without hesitation, as noted by an opposition figure. Additionally, a minimum score of 20% across 24 constituencies is now necessary to secure a parliamentary seat, up from the previous 10%.

Just before the vote, religious leaders advocated for an inclusive code to prevent recurring violence.

The parliamentary amendments underscore the ongoing tensions between the ruling party and the opposition in Benin’s political landscape. As the electoral rules evolve, the debate intensifies over the balance between democratic participation and ensuring fair and transparent electoral processes.

Soukaina Sghir

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