The Politics of Democratic Stability - the case of Ghana
The major aspiration of most African states, at least if you believe both academic and journalistic articles, is a properly functioning democracy.
What do we require of democracy?
and its' corollaries: what is democratic failure? what is democratic deficit?
Shaped by the litany and the legacy of Coups: Afrifa; Acheampong; Rawlings (twice)
Is there some 'characteriological' argument that says the Ghanaian people are quite peaceable and thus the rolling cycle of violence and political antagonism did not hold the same disruptive forces as with other nations?
Has Ghanaian politics itself as a practice found a way of lessening the traps of ethnic competition that have marred the politics of most other countries?
Gold Coast to
Nkrumah and the failings of him and his CPP government
Kwame Nkrumah, who had already
established a reputation as an African nationalist in
of the CPP was its demand for 'self-government now', it also proclaimed itself to be socialist and pan-Africanist, and cultivated the support of lower social groups which the UGCC had largely ignored.
The CPP's promise of national independence, secured in 1957, and of the national development which would (it mistakenly believed) follow it, enabled it to win decisive victories in three pre-independence elections. Helped by a buoyant economy with rising export prices, the CPP government quickly expanded the public service in both the economic and the social spheres, and set itself the objective of rapid development through industrialisation (socialism?)
The National Liberation Movement (NLM) and then as the United Party (UP). Leaders, such as Joseph Danquah and Kofi Busia, remained impeccable advocates of liberal democracy, limited government and civil liberties,
....but political conflict
soon revealed Ghanaian roots that were
at least as important as imported ideologies. Regions such as Ashanti, and to a lesser extent the North and the
Volta Region, feared a concentration of
power in Accra, so the lines of political conflict polarised around centre
versus periphery as well as state socialism versus liberalism. It was but a
short step from regional claims to the claims of the dominant ethnic group
within a region, so that politics could be portrayed in 'tribal' terms. Thus
the NLM might be seen as articulating the demands of the
And this might bear out an answer to some of the Qs above - Ghanaian exeptionalism? A tolerant people despite Nkrumah's imposition of control by one-party state?
And the pol-econ failures of state socialism + the turn to political ruthlessness and lack of accountability at any level even within the party (CPP)?
"The reality was that the party structure decayed once there were no elections to contest. The combined effects of worsening terms of trade after 1960, and the dissipation of public resources in largely unproductive, and often corruptly incurred, public expenditure, led to growing economic hardship and public discontent... the years before 1966 were distinctive in the extent to which state control over the economy was imposed, and to which a single party claimed a monopoly of the truth..."
Col. Afrifa Coup: Feb 1966
the only obvious way of removing the government was through a coup d'etat. This occurred in February 1966. The army had its own grievances, including the loss of resources to the President's Own Guard Regiment and the recent dismissal of two of its most senior officers, but the leaders of the coup were very much in the mould of the liberal democratic opposition
Reasons for coup
This was the time of the National Liberation Council that to large extent let
civil servants run the country with a titular military ruling group. The US
Army study points to the suggestion that in
"a National Advisory Committee was created, consisting largely of former opposition politicians, to act like a parliament without legislative power"
So the military was liberal and not authoritarian socialist
But in the moves towards restoring democratic govt the NLC ensured that the CPP was not to be involved and endeavoured to promote the chance of a liberal grou, Progress Party under Kofi Busia
Pinkney argue: While the general tone of the most prominent military leaders was that
But again this suggests
But the US army study suggests that there was slightly more aspects of ethnicity at work than seemed on the surface - namely via who voted for which party...but even then it was not significant. Poll was August 1969
This does seem to again support the idea of Ghanaian reasonableness and absence of strong ethnic biases.
Equally there were weakness in NAL party under Gbedemah and in the wake of a financial scandal he retired from politics thereby leaving his party without a strong leader...and soon it mixed in with other smaller parties to form Joseph Appiah's Justice Party.
But perhaps the theme of politics was not of fragmentation by party/ethnic reinforcing cleavage but of party (CPP=bad) versus nation (Busia govt = good)
Shift from industrial development to regional and local rural development
"Local businesses found that the expulsion of entrepreneurs from
other African states and the
and cocoa prices - critical to the economy - were threatened by competition and internal regulation of the prices that did not match market reality.
and the defense budgets were tightened.....and then sensing a threat from the army, the Busia govt changed the army leadership to those more favourable to the government
and thus the Acheampong
coup. Acheampong was commander of the First Brigade
The coup created the end of the 2nd Republic and the emergence of the National Redemption Council 1972-79 - later known as the 'Supreme Military Council
General Acheampong, envisaged a type of
government other than 'the party type of government that brings in its trail
division, hatred, sectional and tribal interest'. There were also elements of
populism in the economic sphere which earned the government immediate support. Busia's devaluation of the cedi was reversed, some foreign
debts were repudiated, Nkrumah's reputation was rehabilitated, and an ambitious
'Operation Feed Yourself scheme was launched with a view to making
What was distinctive about the Acheampong government was its attempt to establish a permanent no-party state in which corporate groups, including the army, would be represented in government alongside non-party representatives chosen by voters.
Pinkney has an interesting explanation of the failure of democracy in terms of party structure and power:
Political parties in
This is in contrast to party politics in most Western countries, where the power of a potentially dominant party is checked by other parties, whose supporters may have an ingrained loyalty and may not be 'bought off easily, and partly by other institutions such as the state bureaucracy, labour, business, religious and voluntary groups, which all play a major role in determining the distribution of resources, largely irrespective of which party is in power.
At the same time parties in
So... Keep them out of politics, and the true wishes of the people would be articulated, whether through Acheampong's corporate groups or Rawlings's District Assemblies and Committees for the Defence of the Revolution.
and they had a referendum on the Union idea! which they won but it did not stop criticism.
Juoy 1978 Acheampong ousted by Akuffo due o continuing economic problems tat Acheampong's leadershp had failed to get to grips with.
New constitution 1978 and General Election June 1979
Executions of Afrifa, Acheampong, Akuffo
But still elections and return to civilian rule by Sept 1979 under Hilla Limann - the 3rd Republic! The People's National Party (man opposition: Popular front Party)
Armed Forces Revolutionary Council still kept an eye on proceedings though Limann government ordered them to dissolve
Cotinuing economic problems and...
Limann's adversary, Rawlings, was closer at hand, despite attempts to give him a diplomatic posting. The de-stabilising influence of Rawlings was aggravated by the government's inability to tackle the country's continued economic weaknesses. An impeccable human rights record proved to be of little value in preserving a democratic regime if it could not provide its citizens with basic necessities, especially when Rawlings had acquired a reputation as the man who was on the side of the poor. And it was Rawlings who appeared to be a more plausible alternative leader than any civilian politician.
A coup on new year's eve 1981 brought Rawlings back to power, and the populist element in Ghanaian politics returned to the ascendancy
Rawlings shared Acheampong's distaste for competitive party politics, which were seen as an elitist activity that exploited the masses rather than offering them democratic choice.
Rawlings had a sort of socialist streak in him that led to the formation of workers groups to foment mass support but these groups rued to impose rules and regulations over trade and economic daily doings that antagonised people and led to these groups demise
As Pinkney notes: The government had created loosely structured mass organs but it had not destroyed the older elite power bases, even though some individual members of these elites had been removed. As the revolutionary bodies lost popularity with government
and governed alike, searching for new power bases again became a process of elimination. Chiefs were needed to maintain order in rural areas, private business was needed to
implement the free market policies, technocrats were needed in government, in place of ideologues, and a restored military hierarchy, led once again by senior officers, was necessary to enforce unpopular policies and fend off counter coups
Rawlings despite his radical tendencies fostered an Economic recovery programme in 1983 that was to depend on foreign investment and borrowing - a capitalist approach
After 1983, it was a relatively successful orthodoxy. The gross domestic product had been declining at an annual rate of over 4 per cent in the first two years of Provisional National Defence Council rule. From 1984 to 1989 the annual rate of growth averaged over 6 per cent. This relative economic success gave Rawlings a degree of legitimacy
So probably my line is to argue for Ghanaian exceptionalism - they had found a way round the excesses of both coups and ethnicity even thought both were present but constrained.
**** There is an excellent study by the US Army on
Here is a quick-to-open normal text version of the first 60 pages which contains the Preface (which is a very good summary of the run of Ghana's history and politics) and pp.30-57 I wish you to read
and if you are seriously interested, read Chapter 4, though ****the Pinkney reading**** is more useful/better.
**Attached is chapter on Structural adjusment policies which includes a section on how Ghana opened itself up to international economic guidance and with it a more liberal capitalist approach to economic life
** This is a nice article on Ghana as 'beacon of hope' for the rest of African electoral politics and compare it with this article about Kenyan electoral politics
and this is what UK HMG thinks of Ghana
Here is a UN led range of evaluations of Ghana especially on Human rights and society and link to all papers
Academic studies/debates: the 'ard stuff you should be attempting...
This seems good on the impact of Rawling's governments: This study examines the impacts of Rawlings’ administration on the politics of
** This article by Lindberg (2003) explores the possibility of corruption by patrimonialism
*** Whitfield (attached) is excellent on the ways of Ghanaian exceptionalism - that the elections of 2008 are one more chapter demonstrating the democratic stability of Ghana. And this article might be taken to challenge the patrimonialist arguments of potential political failure of Lindgard and of Appiah but support the line of Osei.
***This is an excellent article by Osei - very analytical and a bit political science techie. but HAVE A GO ****
"This article presents new theoretical and empirical insights into democratization in Africa, using the typology developed by John Higley and Michael Burton to understand elite interaction in Ghana. Social network analysis (SNA) is used to test the main proposition of the Higley/Burton theory, namely that a ‘liberal democracy is impossible without a consensually united elite’. Empirical evidence is provided from a unique data set that maps the interaction patterns between Members of Parliament elected to the Ghanaian legislature in 2012. The article shows that MPs in
But against this you might wish to look at the at least the first 6 or 7 pages of Appiah's paper for the DfID. Again, not easy but good in that it might contest the above paper. It seems to argue that
research uses Khan’s theory of political settlement to analyse how the
organisation of power in neo-patrimonial
So to sum up:
I am most keen for you to look at:
the Pinkney chapter
the Whitfield article