Elections could consolidate or undermine Ghana’s democracy



Ghana’s forthcoming elections would further consolidate the country’s democratic institutions and practices if they prove to be “credible and peaceful,” says an international delegation from the National Democratic Institute. However, should the polls “fail to meet the expectations of the people of Ghana, that would seriously undermine democratic gains made over the past two decades and could negatively impact other countries in the sub-region,” the delegation warned.

Other observers have called for the political parties and all interested stakeholders to remain vigilant and ensure strict monitoring to promote transparent, free and fair elections.

“Intense political competition between the two dominant political parties has been further sharpened by close presidential elections in 2008 and 2012, and the alternation of presidential power in 2000 and 2008,” the NDI report adds.

GHANA2Stanford University’s Larry Diamond fears that the poll could leave Ghana “mired in bitter disputes over electoral misconduct.” Ghana is one of several key swing states, including South Africa, Turkey and, most crucially, Ukraine and Tunisia, where developments could precipitate “a reverse wave,” he told a recent conference at the National Endowment for Democracy.

Some analysts believe the election will also be a key signifier of the oil-producing country’s ability to avoid the resource curse.

resource-curse1While conventional wisdom suggests that countries with relatively developed institutions should be able to overcome the ‘resource curse’, despite the adoption of a Petroleum Revenue Management Act, Ghana’s infant oil industry is proving otherwise, according to one analysis:

This is taking place in a period when CSO and other watchdog groups are flourishing, including their active participation in the development of resource management regulatory framework and capacity building. However, key decisions remain under executive control. Hence, the enthusiasm and initial commitment by civil society groups in the management of the country’s nascent oil sector is slowly crumbling as the executive appropriates the ‘monitoring and oversight’ regime.

In the longer run, it is still possible that Ghana could become a model for the effective utilization of new-found petroleum generated wealth, argues Robert Looney, who teaches economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

“Increasing involvement of organized civil society and the media have created the foundation for accountability and best practice procedures in the management of the country’s oil resources,” he wrote for Foreign Policy. “In fact, government efforts to improve transparency in the growing oil and gas sector, together with the country’s progress in institutional development and apparent determination to correct and learn from its mistakes, might eventually turn it into a role model for other oil and gas producing countries throughout the developing world.”

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) deployed an international delegation to Ghana from October 17 to 21, 2016. The purpose of the mission was to assess preparations for the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections and support Ghana’s efforts to conduct credible and peaceful polls. The delegation’s work builds on an earlier joint assessment mission conducted by NDI in partnership with the International Republican Institute (IRI) in August 2016. RTWT

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