In-depth: Where Next for Ghana’s Democracy?

Following the declaration of John Dramani Mahama’s narrow victory, Nelson Oppong takes an in-depth look at elections and beyond in Ghana. He emphasises the need for change in the Electoral Commission’s approach to decision making, assesses the prospects for programmatic platforms and pragmatic politics in the country and asks whether the New Patriotic Party can pose a threat to the ruling National Democratic Congress in the future. Nelson is a DPhil candidate in International Development, at the University of Oxford.

Ghana’s incumbent president, John Dramani Mahama, of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), secured a renewed mandate from Ghanaian voters in a closely contested general election over the weekend.  According to the Electoral Commission, Mahama, who took over after the untimely death of the John Atta Mills, secured 50.7% of valid votes against 47.7% for leading opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo.

Several domestic and international observers commended Ghana for a “generally free and fair election” but the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has challenged the results and said it will take the matter to the courts, accusing the ruling government of colluding with electoral officers to fraudulently manipulate electoral figures.

This issue aside, the acrimony of some political campaigning, the complexities of the electoral process and system, and the underperformance of the Electoral Commission (EC) have presented challenges to the capacity of Ghana’s electoral system to adequately manage the increasingly complex nature of the country’s electoral democracy. Changing social and political features mean that Ghana’s respected democratic institutions must fight to maintain their legitimacy and cohesive role.

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