Ghana’s political background
Ghana is generally seen as a development aid success story. In 2000 the first democratic transition of power took place after successful elections and in 2012 power changed hands again. In 2000 the NDC – the party of former dictator Jerry Rawlings – peacefully handed over power to another established party: the NPP. The NPP subsequently won but in 2012 lost again to the NDC. There are four parties in parliament. The NDC and the NPP are the largest. The parties, in comparison to other African countries, are quite established and ideological.
Despite major improvements in education, food security and the economy, Ghana is currently facing serious economic challenges due to overpromising and underwhelming oil revenue and subsequent overspending as well as an energy crisis. At the same time, it is facing governance challenges related to the new activity of large scale commercial production of oil.
NIMD’s approach in Ghana
NIMD’s programme in Ghana started in 2002 and the main focus has been on facilitating interparty dialogue. Political parties were extremely acrimonious towards each other. The attitude was: the winner takes all, if you lose power you lose everything. This blocked any serious political progress.
Under the programme’s guidance political leaders met and debated publicly for the first time. This led to an interparty dialogue platform that includes the party leadership of all parliamentary parties. The platform is facilitated by NIMD and local implementing partner organization, the Institute of Economic Affairs. Currently, the platform mainly focuses on three areas: constitutional reform, electoral reform, and addressing excessive executive powers. The platform aims to move Ghana away from what they call ‘Winner takes all politics’ where whoever wins the election has all the power without enough checks and balances. Under the platform’s guidance a transition of power act was drafted and passed into law. This makes for a much better democratic transition.
NIMD also supports the parliamentary parties to develop their policies. In Ghana we do this partly by funding a policy analyst post for each of the four parliamentary parties.