Friday, December 9, 2016

Ghana Election

Elections were held this week in Ghana.

The NPP's Akufo-Addo Dankwa, after two unsuccessful runs at the top job, now appears set to take the Presidency, from incumbent John Mahama of the NDC.

Dankwa leads with 54.7% of the vote, compared to Mahama's 43.6%.

In Parliament, the NPP is winning 119 seats, with the NDC sitting on 65. Both parties have won at least one seat in every province, though most provinces vote heavily for one party or the other. Ashanti, for example, currently is returning 25 NPP seats, to 3 for the NDC, while Volta is returning only a single NPP member, but 15 for the NDC. 91 seats have yet to declare, but all signs point to an NPP victory.

Some background.

The NDC is a left-wing party that is a member of Socialist International. They use Green as their colour, and their symbol is an umbrella with an eagle head on top; the logo has the colours Green, White, Red, and Black.

The NPP is a right-wing party that is a member of the IDC; the same organization of the Conservative Party of Canada. They use Blue as their colour, and their symbol is a flag that is Red, White, and Blue, with a Blue elephant in the centre.

The current democratic history of Ghana started in 1992.

Ghana achieved independence from the UK in 1960. Kwame Nkrumah became President and had a controversial rule. To skip a lot of somewhat repetitive history, between 1960 and 1992, a series of civilian and military dictatorships ruled the country, alternating between the armed forces, and various incarnations of Nkumah's party. Finally, in 1992, Ghana was faced with a free democratic election.

It is a sad reality that in much of sub-saharan africa, free democratic elections will only happen a few times in a row, before a dictator settles in. In the cases where this does not happen, the democratically elected government does terrible things, south as in South Africa. As such, I personally have a lot of respect and interest in Ghana for it's ability to foster a spirit of political stability in a region where this is uncommon.

In 1992, Jerry Rawlings, the candidate from the NDC, won the Presidential election. Observers said the election was free and fair, but the NPP claimed otherwise. The margin of victory was approximately 60%-30%. After the Presidential ballot, the NPP boycotted the Parliamentary vote, and all seats were won by the NDC's lead alliance.

Rather than use this term to install a new dictatorship, the NDC made changes to the electoral act that had been demanded by the NPP.

1996 saw the Rawlings re-elected over NPP candidate John Kufuor with 57% compared to 40%. In Parliament the NDC took 133 seats, compared to 61 for the NPP, and 6 for all other parties combined.

2000 saw the first peaceful transition of power from one elected government to another in the history of Ghana. In the first round, Kufuor took 48% of the vote to NDC candidate John Atta Mills' 45%. The second round produced a victory for John Kufuor, 57% to 43%. The NPP won 99 Parliamentary seats to the NDC's 92, with 9 seats being held by others.

2004 saw Kufuor re-elected over Mills, 52% to 45%, and the NPP win an outright majority in Parliament of 128 seats to the 94 won by the NDC and the 8 won by other parties.

2008 saw power change again as Mills took 48% in the first round compared to Addo's 49%, and Mills beat Akufo-Addo in the final round 50.2% to 49.8%. The NDC also won Parliament with 116 seats compared to the NPP's 107, and 7 for the other parties. Despite this, the NDC won fewer votes in the Parliamentary election.

If there was any one time to put democracy in Ghana in danger, this wast it. The NPP had won more votes for Parliament, and had lost the Presidential election by 40K votes with over 9M cast. Beyond that, polls suggested they were headed for a victory, and they were the sitting government. Despite this, the NPP accepted the result, and power was handed over.

Mills would die in office in the summer of 2012. John Mahama would take over the Presidency.

In the 2012 elections, Mahama won a narrow first round victory of 50.7% over  Akufo-Addo's 47.7%. Parliament also gave the NDC a win with 148 seats, to the NPP's 123, and 5 for all others.

This election marks a return to power for the NPP, and the 3rd peaceful handover of power in Ghana's history.

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