Elections in Ghana

Last updated

Elections in Ghana give information on election and election results in Ghana.


Ghana elects on national level a head of state, the president, and a legislature. The president is elected for a four-year term by the people. The Parliament of Ghana has 275 members, elected for a four-year term in single-seat constituencies. [1] The presidential election is won by having more than 50% of valid votes cast, [2] whilst the parliamentary elections is won by simple majority, and, as is predicted by Duverger's law, the voting system has encouraged Ghanaian politics into a two-party system, creating extreme difficulty for anybody attempting to achieve electoral success under any banner other than those of the two dominant parties. Elections have been held every four years since 1992. Presidential and parliamentary elections are held alongside each other, generally on 7 December every four years.

Scholars review of elections



See also

Ethnic voting in Ghana

Ethnic voting is the idea that people utilize candidates’ ethnic identity to decide who can be best trusted to follow through with their promises for goods to their coethnic constituents as payment for their vote. [3] This form of vote buying in which one’s vote is paid for through a targeted public good is known as clientelism and is especially popular in sub-Saharan African countries. [4] Kanchan Chandra, one of the leading academics in Ethnic Politics, claims that there are several causes for this phenomenon in Africa. [5] First, the individual has an incentive to seek out public goods for their vote because of one’s perception that their vote individually will not lead to altering the election. [5] Through this logic, Chandra displays that there is an incentive for people to organize for casting their vote within this context because, even if the one does not benefit from this vote individually, their collective vote may allow this group some access to favoritism from the candidate if they win thus establishing greater value in their collective votes. [5] Furthermore, the candidate has an incentive to provide benefits to groups for their vote because an individual method of distributing jobs and services may create conflict in which providing a good to one voter may deprive another voter of that same good; therefore, a group method of distribution both allows for less conflict and greater insurance for the voter that the candidate will follow through on their end. [5] To gain access to a salient group that desires jobs and services to target as well as establish credibility among that group, candidates often use their own ethnic identity, or coethnics, as a targeted community. [5] Furthermore, the history of colonialism within most African countries means that ethnic identity tends to be more salient and available for candidates’ access through appeals to shared ethnicity. [5]

Ethnic Voting and Composition of Region

Ethnic favoritism in Ghana has been shown to be a method of gaining votes; however, the effectiveness among voters may vary between diverse and homogeneous communities. [6] While not conducted in Ghana, research in sub-Saharan Africa has found that community investments are significantly more likely to occur in which there are more homogenous communities. [7] This displays how communities largely composed of one ethnicity may be benefiting from ethnic voting at the local level. [7] The allocation of public goods to a homogeneous area is claimed to be a direct result of ethnic favoritism. [7] While examining how people in Ghana vote within homogenous, rural communities versus more diverse communities, another study finds support for this theory in that more homogenous communities are more likely to vote for the party that supports their ethnicity. [3] Furthermore, when there are ethnic minorities within a homogenous and rural community, they are more likely to vote for the opposition party or their non-coethnic. [7] The researcher explains this as voting based on the mutual benefit of targeted public goods. [7] In this example, minorities within this homogeneous and rural community would equally benefit from the public goods placed in their area as the majority. [7] Therefore, the minority is more likely to advocate for this candidate even though they do not specifically favor their ethnic identity. [7] In contrast, other researchers argue that minority groups within these communities vote along non-coethnic lines due to voter intimidation. [8] This is supported by observing how voting among these minorities for non-coethnic candidates does not vary between locations that have public goods and those that do not. [8] Another researcher’s findings display how the choice of voting by ethnicity may depend also on public versus private goods. [6] Similarly, another researcher finds that homogenous communities are more likely to vote for the candidate that supports their ethnic identity and minorities within those ethnically homogenous communities are more likely to support the opposition party because they are more likely to obtain access to public goods that the homogenous community receives. [7] Additionally, this study also finds that diverse and urban communities often have less ethnic voting when considering public goods. [7] However, this study also finds that ethnic minorities are more likely to have an expectation that they will receive private goods if they are within poor communities, even if they are the ethnic minority of a community. [7]

Additionally, research shows the ethnic voting at the local level in Ghana may have greater implications for national elections. For example, ethnic voting towards the presidency may depend on the amount of clientelism taking place for local elections. [9] This theory, “reverse coattails,” supports the idea that clientelism surrounding ethnicity at the local level incentivizes individuals to participate at the party level thus aligning them with the party of a presidential candidate that their local official supports. [9] Therefore, the support that local officials gain through co-ethnic clientelism also creates support for the executive candidate in the same party. [9]

Implications of Ethnic Voting

Research has also displayed that the ethnic association created within politics may cause greater conflict and implicit biases between ethnic groups. [10] Because candidates have mobilized ethnic groups through clientelist practices, ethnic groups create stronger ties to their ethnicity around times of competitive elections. [11] By examining how people define themselves (by ethnicity, language, economic status, etc.), one cross-national study found data that when elections are closer and more competitive, it is more likely that people will identify with the ethnic category associated with their ethnicity. [11] This supports the idea that ethnic identity is largely bound to politics because it has historically been used as a political tool. [11] In Ghana, this theory has been supported by studying the microeconomic interactions between people of different ethnic groups. [10] After collecting data on the price of taxis in a field experiment at various time points around an election, the study found that non-coethnics were charged more, on average, than non-ethnics. [10] However, at election time, non-coethnics that were affiliated with an opposing political party (non-copartisans) were charged even more, while non-coethnics affiliated with the same party (copartisans) were charged less. [10] Thus, when ethnic groups are nested in political parties, it can reduce discrimination between ethnic groups within a party but exacerbate discrimination between ethnic groups affiliated with opposing parties. [10]

Alternative Opinions

Although these studies argue that ethnic voting is prevalent in Ghana due to the lack of political information available, other research indicates Ghanaian people do not vote primarily due to ethnicity. [12] This research emphasizes that, although there is less information available to Ghanaian people, they are still more likely to choose a candidate based on past performance and policy plans. [12] Therefore, there are articles indicating that the prevalence of clientelism and ethnic voting only account for a small portion of the population. [12] Other research indicates that while clientelism is a signal of viability to voters in Ghana, it is not alone capable of “buying” one’s vote. [4] Therefore, candidates are still reliant on the information they are able to obtain concerning past political performance to judge candidates’ performances. [4] This election organization in which gifts are necessary to be seen as a viable candidate is seen as manufactured by years of clientelist practices. [4] As candidates from different parties competed to buy votes, this transaction became standard as a way of interacting with voters. [4]

Related Research Articles

Plurality voting is an electoral system in which a candidate, or candidates, who poll more than any other counterpart, are elected. In a system based on single-member districts, it elects just one member per district and may be called first-past-the-post (FPTP), single-choice voting, simple plurality or relative/simple majority. In a system based on multi-seat districts, it elects multiple candidates in a district and may be referred to as plurality block voting. Not every winner-takes-all system is plurality voting, for example Instant-runoff voting is one non-plurality winner-takes-all system. Plurality voting is still used to elect members of a legislative assembly or executive officers in only a handful of countries in the world. It is used in most elections in the United States, the lower house in India, elections to the British House of Commons and English local elections in the United Kingdom, France and federal and provincial elections in Canada.

Gerrymandering Manipulation of electoral district borders to favor certain outcomes of an election

In representative democracies, gerrymandering is the political manipulation of electoral district boundaries with the intent of creating undue advantage for a party, group, or socio-economic class within the constituency. The manipulation may consist of "cracking" or "packing".

Proportional representation (PR) refers to a type of electoral systems under which subgroups of an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical and political divisions of the electorate. The essence of such systems is that all votes contribute to the result—not just a plurality, or a bare majority—and that the system produces mixed, balanced representation reflecting how votes are cast.

Political party Organization that seeks to influence government policy and actions

A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific ideological or policy goals.

Politics of the United States Political system of the United States of America

The politics of the United States function within a framework of a constitutional federal republic and presidential system, with various levels and branches of power. Under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government is the national government of the country, composed of three distinct branches that share powers. The U.S. Congress forms the legislative branch, a bicameral legislative body comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate. The executive branch is headed by the President of the United States, who serves as country's head of state and head of government. And the Judiciary branch forms the third branch, composed of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, and exercises judicial power.

Ethnic conflict Conflict between ethnic groups

An ethnic conflict is a conflict between two or more contending ethnic groups. While the source of the conflict may be political, social, economic or religious, the individuals in conflict must expressly fight for their ethnic group's position within society. This criterion differentiates ethnic conflict from other forms of struggle.

Accountability, in terms of ethics and governance, is equated with answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving. As in an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit and private (corporate) and individual contexts. In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

First-past-the-post voting Plurality voting method

In a first-past-the-post electoral system ; formally called single-member plurality voting (SMP) when used in single-member districts, or (informally) choose-one voting in contrast to ranked voting or score voting), voters cast their vote for a candidate of their choice, and the candidate who receives the most votes wins. FPTP is a plurality voting method, and is primarily used in systems that use single-member electoral divisions. FPTP is used as the primary form of allocating seats for legislative elections in about a third of the world's countries, mostly in the English-speaking world. The phrase is a metaphor from British horse racing, where there is a post at the finish line.

Electoral fraud, sometimes referred to as election manipulation, voter fraud or vote rigging, involves illegal interference with the process of an election, either by increasing the vote share of a favored candidate, depressing the vote share of rival candidates, or both. It differs from but often goes hand-in-hand with voter suppression. What exactly constitutes electoral fraud varies from country to country.

Political campaign Attempt to influence the decision making process within a specific group

A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making progress within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, by which representatives are chosen or referendums are decided. In modern politics, the most high-profile political campaigns are focused on general elections and candidates for head of state or head of government, often a president or prime minister.

Voter turnout Percentage of a countrys eligible voters who actually vote within elections

In political science, voter turnout is the percentage of registered voters who participated in an election. Registered varies by country, and the registered voters should not be confused with the total adult population.

Voter suppression Strategy designed to restrict specific groups of people from voting

Voter suppression is a strategy used to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting. It is distinguished from political campaigning in that campaigning attempts to change likely voting behavior by changing the opinions of potential voters through persuasion and organization, activating otherwise inactive voters, or registering new supporters. Voter suppression, instead, attempts to reduce the number of voters who might vote against a candidate or proposition.

Particracy, also known as partitocracy, partitocrazia or partocracy, is a form of government in which the political parties are the primary basis of rule rather than citizens and/or individual politicians.

Voter turnout in United States presidential elections Aspect of election history

The historical trends in voter turnout in the United States presidential elections have been determined by the gradual expansion of voting rights from the initial restriction to white male property owners aged 21 or older in the early years of the country's independence to all citizens aged 18 or older in the mid-20th century. Voter turnout in United States presidential elections has historically been higher than the turnout for midterm elections.

Clientelism or client politics is the exchange of goods and services for political support, often involving an implicit or explicit quid-pro-quo. Clientelism involves an asymmetric relationship between groups of political actors described as patrons, brokers, and clients. In client politics an organized minority or interest group benefits at the expense of the public. Client politics may have a strong interaction with the dynamics of identity politics. This is particularly common in a pluralist system, such as in the United States, where minorities can have considerable power shaping public policy. The opposite of client politics is 'entrepreneurial' politics, or conviction politics.

The Latino vote or refers to the voting trends during elections in the United States by eligible voters of Latino background. This phrase is usually mentioned by the media as a way to label voters of this ethnicity, and to opine that this demographic group could potentially tilt the outcome of an election, and how candidates have developed messaging strategies to this ethnic group.

Voter identification laws in the United States Laws regarding the IDs that are required for voting in the US

Voter ID laws in the United States are laws that require a person to provide some form of official identification before they are permitted to register to vote, receive a ballot for an election, or to actually vote in elections in the United States.

2016 Vanuatuan general election

General elections were held in Vanuatu on 22 January 2016. The previous elections occurred in October 2012. The president of Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale, dissolved the Parliament of Vanuatu in November 2015. This occurred after the conviction of 14 parliamentarians for bribery. The convicted MPs include former Prime Ministers Serge Vohor and Moana Carcasses Kalosil. The president called for a snap election to form a new government.


  1. "Parliament of Ghana". www.parliament.gh. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  2. Ghana, Constitution. "Ghana's Constitution of 1992" (PDF). constituteproject.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 July 2018. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  3. 1 2 Ichino, Nahomi; Nathan, Noah L. (2013). "Crossing the Line: Local Ethnic Geography and Voting in Ghana". American Political Science Review. 107 (2): 344–361. doi:10.1017/S0003055412000664. ISSN   0003-0554. S2CID   9092626.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Gadjanova, Elena (2017). "Electoral clientelism as status affirmation in Africa: evidence from Ghana". The Journal of Modern African Studies. 55 (4): 593–621. doi:10.1017/S0022278X17000416. ISSN   0022-278X. S2CID   158947560.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Chandra, Kanchan (2004). Why Ethnic Parties Succeed: Patronage and Ethnic Head Counts in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108573481.003. ISBN   978-1-108-57348-1.
  6. 1 2 Nathan, Noah L. (2016). "Local Ethnic Geography, Expectations of Favoritism, and Voting in Urban Ghana". Comparative Political Studies. 49 (14): 1896–1929. doi:10.1177/0010414016655540. ISSN   0010-4140. S2CID   1049747.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ejdemyr, Simon; Kramon, Eric; Robinson, Amanda Lea (2017). "Segregation, Ethnic Favoritism, and the Strategic Targeting of Local Public Goods". Comparative Political Studies. 51 (9): 1111–1143. doi:10.1177/0010414017730079. ISSN   0010-4140. S2CID   158691198.
  8. 1 2 Enamorado, Ted; Kosterina, Svetlana (2022). "Surrounded and threatened: how neighborhood composition reduces ethnic voting through intimidation". Political Science Research and Methods. 10 (1): 68–81. doi:10.1017/psrm.2021.15. ISSN   2049-8470. S2CID   234861092.
  9. 1 2 3 Ichino, Nahomi; Nathan, Noah L. (2013). "Do Primaries Improve Electoral Performance? Clientelism and Intra-Party Conflict in Ghana". American Journal of Political Science. 57 (2): 428–441. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5907.2012.00624.x. ISSN   0092-5853. JSTOR   23496606.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Michelitch, Kristin (2015). "Does Electoral Competition Exacerbate Interethnic or Interpartisan Economic Discrimination? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Market Price Bargaining". American Political Science Review. 109 (1): 43–61. doi:10.1017/S0003055414000628. ISSN   0003-0554. S2CID   154543472.
  11. 1 2 3 Eifert, Benn; Miguel, Edward; Posner, Daniel N. (2010). "Political Competition and Ethnic Identification in Africa". American Journal of Political Science. 54 (2): 494–510. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00443.x. hdl:1721.1/71983. ISSN   0092-5853. JSTOR   25652219.
  12. 1 2 3 Lindberg, Staffan I.; Morrison, Minion K. C. (22 March 2008). "Are African voters really ethnic or clientelistic? Survey evidence from Ghana". Political Science Quarterly. 123 (1): 95–123. doi:10.1002/j.1538-165X.2008.tb00618.x.