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Key findings
  • Two-thirds (67%) of Ghanaians think the government should not directly support political parties during election campaigns. o Opposition to state support for political parties is particularly strong among citizens who say they don’t trust the ruling and opposition parties.
  • If the government provides support for political parties, the most popular form of support is free advertising on state media (20%), followed by direct financial support (17%), resources such as vehicles and office equipment (13%), and payment of leaders’ salaries (5%).
  • Even among citizens who favour state support for political parties, almost two-thirds (64%) say they are not willing to pay a special tax or levy to fund such support.

A majority of African countries provide assistance to political parties and candidates to  support their administration or election campaigns (International IDEA, 2024; Elin, Samuel, &  Magnus, 2014). State support to political parties can take the form of money, free or  subsidised goods and services, or tax relief, among others. In Ghana, the state supports political parties and candidates through equal allocation of free airtime on state-owned media during election years. In the past, the Electoral Commission of Ghana provided vehicles to support political parties that met certain requirements (Ghanaweb, 2008). 

The adequacy of state support to political parties and candidates has been a long-standing  topic of debate in Ghana. After a strong call for more public funding for political parties in  the lead-up to Ghana’s 2000 general elections, the Electoral Commission led a nationwide  consultation in 2003 and made proposals for additional public funding. But the proposals  were never implemented (Ghana Center for Democratic Development, 2005). 

More recently, the sharply increasing costs of election campaigns has reignited calls for  reforms, including public funding of political parties. A study by the Westminster Foundation  for Democracy and the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (2018) found that the  average campaign expenditure for parliamentary elections increased by 59% between the  2012 and 2016 election cycles. In 2016, party primary and parliamentary elections cost GHC  389,803 (U.S. $85,000), on average; 2020 presidential and parliamentary campaigns in Ghana  averaged GHC 4 million (U.S. $693,000) (Ghana Center for Democratic Development, 2021). 

In March 2023, at a public lecture and launch of a fundraising platform for his 2024 election  campaign, former President and current presidential candidate John Dramani Mahama argued for public funding of political parties when Ghana’s economic conditions allow such  a reform (Annang, 2023).  

Findings from the latest Afrobarometer survey show that a majority of Ghanaians oppose government support for political parties during election campaigns. Even among the few  who favour government support, most are not willing to pay a special levy or tax to fund support for political parties. 

Gildfred Boateng Asiamah

Gildfred Boateng Asiamah previously served as a research analyst at the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana).

Mavis Zupork Dome

Mavis Zupork Dome is the national investigator for Ghana.