Benin, its political history, in brief

Originally, the land of what is now Benin was occupied by several kingdoms, including that of Abomey and Porto-Novo. These first sovereigns came from the migration from neighboring Togo. The other peoples come from present-day Nigeria, Niger, or Burkina-Faso. Thus, the country was once a hotbed of ancient and brilliant civilizations, built around these kingdoms: city-states.

These well-structured political entities had functional urban centers. They had developed a local trade, based from the 17th century on the slave trade, then on that of the oil palm after the abolition of the slave trade in 1807. This trade economy favored the installation, along the coast (nicknamed "Slave Coast"), trading posts controlled by the English, Danes, Portuguese, and some French. In 1704, France was authorized to build a port in Ouidah while in 1752, the Portuguese discovered Porto-Novo.




In 1863, the first French protectorate was established with King Toffa of Porto-Novo who sought help in the face of the claims of the King of Abomey and attacks from the English established in Lagos. The same year, Glèlè, King of Abomey, authorized the French to settle in Cotonou. In 1882, the sovereign of the kingdom of Porto-Novo signed a new protectorate agreement with France, which sent a "French resident" to assist the king. In 1894, the French, conquerors of the local kings, created the colony of Dahomey and its dependencies. The territory takes the name of the most dominant kingdom and the most resistant to foreign occupation: Danhomé with its legendary king Béhanzin.

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Proclaimed a Republic on December 4, 1958, Benin gained international sovereignty on August 1, 1960, under the name of Dahomey. The country is known for the “exemplary nature” of its democratic process which began in February 1990, following the National Conference of Active Forces. Since then, several presidential, legislative, and local elections have sanctioned the devolution of political power. In fifteen years, political liberalism has generated three alternations at the apex of the state.


It has really known two waves of democratization, crowned by elections from which the rulers come. The first dates back to the dawn of independence with the general elections of December 1960. This period is still marked by the incompleteness of the mandate of the President of the Republic, swept away by a military coup in 1963. political life suffered from monolithism because very quickly the new president inspired the merger of political parties into a single official: the Dahomean Unity Party (PDU). The second wave of democratization has been underway since February 1990. Its specificity is that it is long-term and allows for the stability of democratic institutions.


More generally, the contemporary political history of the country can be sequenced in three major times: the time of political instability, the military-Marxist time, and the time of Democratic Renewal.