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Key findings
  • An overwhelming majority (84%) of Ghanaians support elections as the best way to choose their leaders.
  • About three in five citizens (62%) say elections work well to ensure that members of Parliament reflect the views of voters, and an even larger majority (80%) say elections enable voters to remove leaders who don’t do what the people want.
  • More than seven in 10 Ghanaians (72%) say many political parties are needed to give voters real choices, and 89% reject the principle of one-party rule.
  • Most citizens (69%) say it is better in a democracy if power sometimes changes hands in elections from one political party to another rather than having one party continuously govern the country. o More than half (57%) of respondents say that once an election is over, the losing side should accept defeat and cooperate with the government to help it develop the country, rather than monitor and criticise the government to hold it accountable.
  • A majority (64%) of citizens say the 2020 election was generally free and fair, a decline compared to assessments of the 2016 election recorded in 2017 (87%).
  • More than four in five respondents (83%) say they had little or no fear of being a victim of political intimidation or violence during the 2020 election campaign.
  • Only one-third (33%) of Ghanaians say they trust the Electoral Commission of Ghana “somewhat” or “a lot,” the lowest trust level recorded in more than two decades of Afrobarometer surveys.

On 7 December 2024, Ghanaians will head to the polls to elect a new president as well as  275 members of Parliament. This will be the country’s ninth general election since the  beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1992. In the turbulent West African subregion, which has  seen six successful coups d’etat since 2020 (Duzor & Williamson, 2023), Ghana remains a  model democracy characterised by peaceful regular elections and smooth transitions of  power.  

While the slate of smaller-party flagbearers and the electoral calendar had not been finalised as of early March (Mohammed, 2024; Joy Online, 2024), the stage is set for a fierce  contest to replace the term-limited President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, pitting Vice  President Mahamudu Bawumia of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) against former  President John Mahama of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC)  (Naadi, 2023).  

Amid democratic backsliding and heated disputes around recent elections in the subregion (Siegle & Cook, 2024; Onubogu, 2023; Yusuf, 2023), Ghanaian civil society organisations have  criticised two of Akufo-Addo’s appointments to the Electoral Commission of Ghana as  partisan and likely to intensify public mistrust of the commission (Center for Democratic  Development, 2023; Kenu, 2023). Debate about the ethics and implications of these  appointments has raged (Metro TV, 2023; Citi Newsroom, 2023) as concerns about election  management bodies in the subregion gain momentum in light of their widely panned  performance in recent elections in Nigeria and Sierra Leone (Lewis, 2023; Osaji, 2023). 

Although Ghana has often received praise for the quality of its elections (Ezeamalu, 2020;  Nyavi, 2016), Electoral Commission appointments have repeatedly threatened to derail the  country’s progress on its democratic journey in recent years (Graphic Online, 2015; Modern  Ghana, 2020). 

Findings from the most recent Afrobarometer survey show that while a vast majority of  Ghanaians support elections as the best way to choose their leaders, public trust in the  election management body is at a 23-year low. Citizens’ perceptions of the freeness and  fairness of the 2020 election are mostly positive, but they fall well short of assessments of the prior national election in 2016.

David Kofi Asante-Darko

David Kofi Asante-Darko is a research analyst with the West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS) and the CDD Ghana.