n Journal of African Elections - The Electoral Commission of Ghana and the administration of the 2012 elections

Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



Ghana's Fourth Republic has a reputation for having a reasonably high degree of institutionalisation in election administration. Its electoral and democratic success stories have largely been associated with the autonomy-enhancing institutional design and leadership of the Electoral Commission of Ghana (ECG), which engender a degree of public confidence and trust. The 2012 elections, however, produced an ominous twist in the hitherto sacrosanct nature of democratic legitimacy in Ghana. This article assesses the role of the ECG, drawing on the quality of the elections, measured by the level of participation, competitiveness and legitimacy, as well as the actions and inactions of the ECG at critical stages in the electoral cycle. Overall, the ECG could be adjudged to have done well, especially on the first two indicators, given the high level of voter turnout (80.15%) and the closeness of the total votes and seats won by the ruling National Democratic Congress and the main opposition, the New Patriotic Party. However, the legitimacy of the election was fiercely challenged with the opposition's rejection of the results and attendant litigation in the Supreme Court. The problem may have been accentuated by the new political economy of oil and the strong desire to access and control oil windfall, the messy application of biometric voter verification as a result of the malfunctioning of the equipment and the controversy over the delimitation of 45 new constituencies in a manner interpreted by opposition parties as gerrymandering. It seems these are not heady days for Ghana's democracy. Rising levels of adversarial elite behaviour not only pose serious democratic threats they raise questions about the depth of the much touted institutional foundations of the country's democracy.

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