While Ghana is among the most well-functioning democracies in Africa, challenges remain. The Danish Social Democratic Party (SDP) has entered into a party-to-party partnership with the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to address a key challenge for the political parties in Ghana: lack of internal party democracy.
Ghana has managed to escape the one party dominance plaguing many of its African peers and is often praised as one of the most well-established democracies in Africa. The country was, however, off to a rocky start and fell victim of corruption, political instability and authoritarian rule not soon after independence from Great Britain in 1957. The ensuing two decades were marked by military rule and mismanaged civilian regimes.
With the 1992 elections, Ghana moved towards democratic rule and stability. A path continued in the successive democratic and peaceful elections in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. In the 2008 election, for the second time since the 1992 elections, power changed hands peacefully in Ghana. Victory in this round was claimed by candidate of the NDC, John Atta Mills. The election proceeded peacefully and is often highlighted as a model for democratic governance in Africa.
Ghana is a de facto two-party state, in spite of being home to numerous political parties. Presidential power has since the 1990s alternated between the NDC and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which also dominate the Parliament of Ghana. The relationship between the parties is strained and the political landscape characterized by strong political competition and at times very harsh rhetoric, also exacerbated by the Westminster ‘winner-takes-all’ electoral system.
Internal party democracy also faces challenges. Here the widespread competition within political parties and a strong focus on individual political players has left questions of policy formulations and communication with the constituencies insufficiently addressed. The political voice and leadership of women in politics in general and the political parties in particular is also a key challenge for democracy in the country.
In July 2012, Vice-President John Dramani Mahama became head of state following the death of President John Atta Mills. At the December 2012 elections, Mahama won his first full term with a slim lead of 50,7 percent against the NPP´s Addo who gained 47,7 percent.