Special Issue: Ghana’s 2016 Elections- Restoring Hope in Democracy?
Following the inauguration ceremony of Ghana’s democratically-elected President, Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo on January 7, 2016, the new government is gradually beginning to face the daunting tasks of governance, which include socio-economic reform, reconciliation, and nation building. Expectations remain high in the immediate aftermath of a less-acrimonious political contest, consistent with the political tradition of one of Africa’s “model electoral democracies”. As Ghanaians and friends of the country celebrate the peaceful outcome of the elections, the contributors to this Special Issue of Kujenga Amani critically examine the recently-held elections, particularly the factors that explain its successful outcome, but not without shedding some light on some not-so-obvious imperfections. The essays highlight the success of the election management system and security agencies in ensuring the peaceful conduct and outcome of elections, effective early warning and conflict-prevention mechanisms and processes put in place by civil society, the leadership of the Electoral Commission (EC), and the modest increase in the number of women elected into the Ghanaian parliament. Also of note are essays on the interplay of political forces, the growing sophistication of the Ghanaian electorate in terms of their voting behavior, the maturity displayed in the mainstream media’s coverage of the elections, and the innovative use of digital media in promoting effective citizen participation in election monitoring. Some of the imperfections noted, include the delay in announcing official election results, under-representation of women in parliament, unfair and ‘sexist’ criticisms of the female chair of the EC, concerns about the nature of party primaries, and the poor performance of small political parties. These essays on the nature and lessons of the 2016 Ghanaian elections are instructive to all those that have an interest in the prospects for democratic consolidation in Africa. Perhaps the next important question to ask is, will this election chart a new course towards developmental democracy with “life more abundant for all” in Ghana? Only time will tell.
By The Editors
Media coverage of elections have come a long way since the transition elections of 1992. However, despite improvements, challenges still persist. Some commentators note that election coverage often fails to properly interrogate electoral issues, campaign promises and manifestos in a manner that demands accountability or enables the voters to make well-informed choices at the polls. Also, […]