Democracy building in Ghana: celebrating 15 years of success

Ghana’s political history is remarkable, but not without its challenges; home to almost 30 million people, Ghana’s transition to democracy has brought stability to the lives of many. In celebration of International Democracy Day, NIMD and The Institute of Economic Affairs Ghana (IEA Ghana) are proud to unveil a short film on how Ghana overcame some of the challenges to its democracy.

The theme for this year’s Democracy Day is “Democracy under Strain: Solutions for a Changing World”, making Ghana’s story a timely reminder for countries around the world where democratic institutions are under threat.

Working alongside IEA Ghana, our implementing partner in the country, NIMD has focused on facilitating interparty dialogue. In the old political reality in Ghana, those who spoke to opposing parties could be seen as traitors to their cause. Opposition parties were in fact illegal up until 1992. Even after being legalized, the party system only came to life in the run-up to elections, with the winners going on to lead and the losers shutting down operations until the next cycle. Political progress was hamstrung by a winner-takes-all attitude that meant there was no trust in the system.

But Ghanaian political actors, with the support of NIMD and IEA Ghana, took decisive action for the sake of their country. Through dialogue and collaboration, they devised a system that maintains peaceful democratic transitions. Political parties themselves moved towards becoming articulate hubs for debate and new policy plans. NIMD’s and IEA Ghana’s interparty dialogue platform helped the opposing political groups come together on a level playing field. A new political culture was able to flourish, one that put democratic values first.

Today, many challenges remain but the impact of the interparty dialogue is clear. The video explores how NIMD and IEA Ghana worked together towards change, and features interviews with many of Ghana’s key political actors and activists who were there when it happened.