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Ghanaian voters flock to pollings stations

Socialdemokraterne in Ghana

On December 7 2016, the Ghanaian population will take to the polling stations to cast their ballot in the long anticipated 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. It promises to be a tight race.

On December 7 Ghanaians are flocking to the polling stations in order to cast their vote on the country’s next president. It remains to be seen whether the Danish Social Democratic Party’s sister party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), can secure another term in office or whether the liberal conservative party, New Patriotic Party (NPP), will manage to return to power. At the same time, a number of smaller parties will hope to break in to the political scene and disrupt the strong positions of the NDC and NPP.

Since the re-introduction of multiparty democracy in Ghana in 1992, power has transitioned only between the two dominant parties, the NDC and NPP. In the 2012 Presidential elections, the margin between the NPP presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, and the NDC presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama, was narrow with each receiving 47.74 % and 50.7 % respectively. This election is expected to be no different. While a total of seven presidential candidates are on the ballot, all eyes will be on Nana Akufo-Addo and the incumbent President John Dramani Mahama.

Vote for NDC

The road to the elections has been long and heatedly contested since Akufo-Addo secured his position as the NPP flagbearer in October 2014 and President Mahama decided to run for a second term. The tone has been fierce, and the Electoral Commission in Ghana has received a lot of criticism particularly from the NPP over the voter’s registry, which has been said to include both deceased and Togolese residents. While elections in Ghana have been relatively more peaceful than in other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, there are fears that violence and unrest may break out. This has prompted the Ghanaian security agencies to publicly state that they will deal severely with those who pose a threat to the stability and peace in the country.

Many things are at stake during these elections. Falling commodity prices on things such as cocoa, coffee and oil, as well as a high inflation and slower economic growth are some of the key issues threatening to put a damper on the country’s lower middle-income status. The economic situation has meant that the country is currently undergoing a fiscal consolidation programme to right its deficit and bring the economy back on track. As part of this, Ghana has been urged to avoid overrunning the government budget and financial programmes’ limits, as has often been the case during Ghanaian elections previously, to prevent further fiscal crisis.

Ghana coast

Moreover, there are fears that dumsor, power-rationing, may return again following the elections, leaving citizens and businesses alike with sporadic power. This combined with increasing fuel prices, utilities and taxes has led to some discontent among the population. President Mahama hopes he can solve the country’s issues with four more years in office, however Akufo-Addo, now on his third presidential bid, is not giving up his chance to secure Flagstaff House without a fight.

One thing is clear the next President has his work cut out for him.

DIPD in Ghana

Since 2012, the Danish Social Democratic Party has been engaged in a partnership with the National Democratic Congres through DIPD. Through this partnership, they have strived to strengthen the position of youth and women in the party, as well as worked on improving NDC’s policy-making processes.

Early in 2016, the Danish Social Liberal Party joined SDP in Ghana, as they entered in to partnership with the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG). Through this partnership, they seek to capacitate a handful of small political parties currently operating outside the NDC-NPP dichotomy.

More information

Contact International Consultant at the Social Democratic Party, Iben Merrild: iben@socialdemokratiet.dk

Contact Consultant at the Social-Liberal Party, Jørgen Estrup: jedc@jorgenestrup.dk

Contact Project Coordinator at DIPD, Mathias Parsbæk Skibdal: maps@dipd.dk

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