Election in Ghana

Ghana has conducted seven (7) successive general elections upon return to multi-party democracy between 1992 and 2016. This has resulted in peaceful alternation of power between two major political parties; the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in what Huntington refers to as the turnover test.

Whiles this remains a major step in consolidating multiparty democracy and a model for Africa, Boafo-Arthur has argued that, “Elections in most African countries remains very difficult to predict due to several social factors like high levels of illiteracy, ethnic proclivities, religious attachment and personalities” (Boafo-Arthur, 2006:1).

The country will conduct its eight general election under this republic and this write-up attempts an analysis of the voting pattern of Ghana since 1992 and make a projection as to which political party or candidate is likely to be entrusted with political power in the country’s 2020 general election.

The discussion will be conducted under the following;

  • Performance of presidential candidates in past elections
  • Regional voting patterns and who wins which region(s) in election 2020
  • Swing regions and where they are likely to vote in 2020
  • Creation of new regions and impact on election 2020
  • Government programmes and its repercussions on election 2020
  • Resolution of the Dagbon crisis by Akufo-Addo and implications
  • COVID-19 and Akufo-Addo’s leadership
  • The Rawlings factor/Sympathy votes
  • Top NDC gurus sitting on the fence
  • Scandals/allegations of corruption against the government
  • Impact of African elections on Ghana/Contagion Theory
  • Conclusions/projection for election 2020

 Performance of presidential candidates in past elections

Table 1: Presidential election results (1992-2016)



Jerry Rawlings (NDC) Adu Boahen (NPP) J.A. Kufuor (NPP) Atta Mills (NDC) Nana Akufo-Addo (NPP) John Mahama (NDC)
1992 58.4 30.3        
1996 57.4   39.7      
2000 (2nd Round)     56.9 43.10    
2004     52.4 44.64    
2008 (2nd Round)       50.23 49.77  
2012         47.74 50.70
2016         53.72 44.53

Source: Electoral Commission, Ghana

Table 1 highlights results of various candidates in presidential elections since 1992. It can be established that all incumbents that sought re-election had their votes reduced in their next elections. Jerry Rawlings, who polled 58.4% in 1992 obtained 57.4% in his re-election bid, a reduction of -1%.

  1. A. Kufuor obtained 52.4% in his re-election after he polled 56.9% in the second round of election 2000. This means Kufuor had a reduction of -4.26 in the election that retained him as president.

After polling 50.70% to be elected president in the 2012 general election, John Mahama polled 44.53% in the 2016 election, a -6.17% reduction in votes. This happened to be unprecedented in the history of the Fourth Republican dispensation.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo after two unsuccessful attempts at the presidency in 2008 and 2012 was third time lucky and was elected president in 2016 polling 53.73% of total valid votes cast. Looking at the trend, it is likely that the current president will have a reduction in votes in this year’s presidential election but the question that many political analysts are asking is by what percentage? It must be emphasized that while Akufo-Addo’s percentage votes increased from 47.74 in 2012 to 53.72 in 2016, same cannot be said about Mahama. His percentage votes has been decreasing; 50.70 in 2012 to 44.53 in 2016. It is thus more likely for Akufo-Addo to be retained per the statistics than Mahama recapturing political power.


Regional voting patterns and who wins which region(s) in election 2020

Table 2: Performance of NPP in the regions (1992-2016)

Region/Year 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016
Western 22.8 40.9 50.5 56.6 47.6 43.8 51.8
Central 26 43.3 49.7 58.8 46 45.5 53.2
Gt. Accra 37 43.3 52.5 51.9 46 46.9 52.4
Volta 3.6 4.7 8.5 14.6 14.9 12.9 17.4
Eastern 37.7 45 55 60.3 57.1 56.9 62.4
Ashanti 60.5 65.8 75.1 74.6 72.4 70.9 76.3
B. Ahafo 29.5 61.7 50.6 51.9 50.6 47.3 53.9
Northern 16.3 33 37.8 36.2 38.3 39.1 41.5
U. East 10.5 11.2 21.5 31.7 35.3 29.3 34.9
U. West 8.9 17.4 15.5 32.2 38 29.3 35.9

Source: Electoral Commission, Ghana

Western Region

The NDC has won in this region on four occasions; 1992, 1996, 2008 and 2012 while the NPP won the 2000, 2004 and 2016 in the Western Region. The region has over the years voted in two elections (8 years) for one of the parties, changed after 8 years and voted for the other. After voting for the NDC in the 1992 and 1996 elections, it voted for the NPP in the 2000 and 2004 elections and again changed to vote for the NDC in the 2008 and 2012 elections, Western region changed and voted for the NPP in the 2016 polls. This region has been split into two and NPP is likely to win in the 2020 election.


Central Region

This region has been voting in the same pattern similar to the Western Region. The NPP won in the Central Region in the last general election and looking at the voting behaviour, there is not going to be a departure from the 2016 election. The NPP will win this region again this year.

Greater Accra

The Greater Accra Region, which is one of the swing regions has similar characteristics like their other counterparts; the Central and Western Regions. The region has been voting 8 years for one of the two major parties and changed to vote for the other. The NPP won this region in 2016 and is likely to win again.

Eastern Region

Apart from the first two general elections that the NDC won, the NPP has won this region since the year 2000 till date. Being the home region of President Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP is expected to maintain or improve upon the 62.4% votes that it obtained in the 2016 election. The NDC’s fortunes keeps dwindling in the region.

Ashanti Region

This is the stronghold of the governing NPP as it has won this region since 1992. The NPP is expected to poll not less than 75% of total votes cast. The NDC is also expected to improve upon its 2016 performance of 23% to about 25% considering the amount of work its candidate and former President John Dramani Mahama has been doing there prior to the polls.

Brong Ahafo Region

The NPP has won five out of the seven general elections in this region. The governing party won by 53.9% in the 2016 polls and is likely to win it again. This region has been split into three and further analysis will be done on it.


Table 3: Performance of NDC in the regions (1992-2016)

Region/Year 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016
Western 61 57.3 43.9 40.9 47.1 54.4 45.9
Central 66.5 55.2 43.7 39.2 50.6 52.1 44.9
Gt. Accra 53.4 54 42.7 46.4 52.1 52.3 46.7
Volta 93.2 94.5 86.2 83.8 82.9 85.5 81
Eastern 57.3 53.8 41.3 38.4 41.1 42 36.6
Ashanti 32.9 32.8 21.6 24.1 26.1 28.4 23
B. Ahafo 61.9 36 44.6 46.1 47.7 51.5 44.9
Northern 63 61.2 57.4 56.9 56.8 58.2 56
U. East 54 74.6 49.3 53.9 56.1 66.4 60.3
U. West 51 69 62.3 56.7 54 66.5 58.4

Source: Electoral Commission, Ghana


Volta Region

Christened the ‘World Bank’ of the NDC, the region has since 1992 voted massively for the main opposition party. NDC will win not less than 80% of total valid votes cast in this region. An emerging trend is that the NPP has been gaining grounds in this region is likely to poll about 20% of total valid votes in the 2020 general election.


Northern Region

This region has been split into three with the creation of new regions and that introduces new dynamics into the voting pattern. The region has consistently voted for the NDC and it is likely to dominate.

Upper East Region

The NDC has won this every single general election in this region since 1992. The region is likely to vote massively for the largest opposition party.

Upper West Region

The NDC will maintain its dominance in this region by winning the region in the 2020 polls since the NPP has never won the region.


Swing regions and where they are likely to vote in 2020

Ghanaian elections over the years has followed some pattern in determining which party captures political power. Some regions in Ghana per their voting pattern have earned the enviable accolade of being referred to as the ‘swing regions’ and have become a major force in determining election outcomes.

The analysis of presidential elections results in Ghana from 1992 to 2016 portrays that out of the ten existing regions, four of them continually swing or switch camps of voting every eight years. These regions include the Western, Central, Greater Accra and Brong Ahafo.


Table 4: Voting pattern in the four swing regions of Ghana

Region/Year 1992 1996 2000(R/O) 2004 2008(R/O) 2012 2016

Source: Electoral Commission, Ghana

Apart from the Brong Ahafo Region that deviated in 1996, the elements of swing voting has evidently been portrayed in elections in Ghana especially from the 2000 to the 2016 general elections. The governing NPP is seeking another term in office and if this pattern is anything to go by, the party is likely to win all four swing regions in 2020.


Creation of new regions and impact on election 2020

The then Gold Coast consisted of three regions: Ashanti, Gold Coast colony, and Northern Territories protectorate around the 1900s. Trans-Volta Togoland became affiliated with Gold Coast in 1922 and officially became part of Gold Coast on December 13, 1956.The Gold Coast colony (capital Accra) was later split into Eastern and Western regions.

Northern Territory protectorate and northern part of Trans-Volta Togoland trust territory became Northern region; remaining part of Trans-Volta Togoland, plus Anlo and Tongu local council areas of Gold Coast colony, became Volta region. On April 4, 1959, the Ashanti region was split into Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions.

Northern region of Ghana was also split into Northern and Upper regions in 1960 whereas the Western region split into Western (capital Sekondi) and Central (capital Cape Coast) on July

  1. From 1902 the old Northern Territory was a British protectorate until 1960 when it was separated into the Northern and Upper Region. The Upper Region was later apportioned into Upper East and Upper West in 1983 making Ten (10) regions in all during the PNDC rule.

Prior to the 2016 general election, flagbearer of then opposition NPP, Nana Akufo-Addo promised to create new regions when elected owing to demands made by certain people from notable regions in the country. Upon attainment of power, the new president initiated processes leading to the creating with a referendum held in the affected areas in 2019 paving way for six new regions; Savannah, North-East, Bono East, Ahafo, Western North and Oti regions.

The NDC had reservations about the creation of the new regions by the Nana Addo led government. From a conspiratory view, the NDC believes, the whole idea is a ploy by the incumbent to consolidate their political gains in certain parts of Ghana. For instance, the NDC has openly kicked against the division of the Volta region which from electoral statistics happens to be their ‘World Bank’ into Volta and Oti regions which will change the voting patterns and dynamics of some of the proposed areas where the new regions will be created.

Some political analysts have argued that, the division of the Upper region into Upper East and Upper West by the P/NDC in 1983 benefited the party politically. Electoral statistics from elections since has projected support for the NDC from these two regions. The NPP is expected to perform better electorally this year in the newly created regions to boost its chances of being retained in power.


Government programmes and its repercussions on election 2020

Undoubtedly, one issue that will determine the outcome of this year’s general election is the free Senior High School (SHS) Policy that was trumpeted by Nana Akufo-Addo when he contested the 2008 general election. Even though he did not win that election, he carried it on to 2012 and subsequently the 2016 election which he eventually won.

Upon attainment of power, the new president stuck to his guns and saw the implementation of his government’s flagship programme within 8 months into the first term. A total of almost 1.2 million Ghanaian children in SHS are currently benefitting from the policy and has endeared Nana Addo to the hearts of several Ghanaians.

Even though, there are some problems with the implementation, the government has not relented in its efforts of making it work better The otherwise success of the policy compelled former President John Mahama to select former Education Minister, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang as his running mate who has a solid educational background to make ‘nonsense’ of the policy and to convince Ghanaians that the NDC will implement it better when given the opportunity.

The NDC and its flagbearer, who were initially against the policy attempted in every opportunity to discredit the policy saying it was not possible in Ghana. For instance during the party’s last political rally prior to the 2016 general election, John Mahama said, “Ghana must not introduce free SHS on the whimsical promise of a desperate politician. Many mistakes have been made by a number of countries in Africa with free SHS.”

Many have argued that almost every home in the country in one way or the other is a beneficiary of the free SHS policy hence the 2020 general election is a means for the people to ‘thank’ Akufo-Addo for keeping his promise. It must be emphasised that quite a number of first-time voters are in SHS and will be expressing their gratitude to the president. The free SHS policy seemed to have deflated the Mahama campaign which touts themselves as ‘Apostles of Infrastructure.’ Having identified the acceptance of the policy by Ghanaians and its impact on the election, Mahama few days to the election openly declared that he was the originator of the free SHS policy.

Besides the free SHS policy, the Planting for Food & Jobs (PFJ), 1 Constituency 1 Ambulance policy which government procured a total of 307 ambulances and distributed to the 275 constituencies across the country are major achievements of the government who came to meet 55 ambulances. Other policies like 1 District 1 Factory (1D1F), 1 Village 1 Dam, Nation Builders Corp (NABCO), restoration of teachers and nursing training allowance, employing a little over 2 million people, the numerous road projects, interchanges among several others.


Resolution of the Dagbon Crisis by Akufo-Addo and implications

The age old Dagbon chieftaincy conflict which dates back to the 1960s but resurfaced during the Kufuor era affected the progress and development of the area. The setting up of a committee of Eminent Chiefs by President Kufuor to resolve the crisis was continued under the Mills and Mahama administrations but the matter was finally brought to an end and with the installation of a new ‘Ya-Na’ under the presidency of Akufo-Addo. Both royal gates in Dagbon; Abudus and Andanis as well as the entire people of the Dagbon Kingdom recognises the significant role played by the sitting president in bringing peace eventually to the area. It is therefore not surprising that the Dagbon people honoured the president by installing him as Ya-Na Abudani 1. Even though it will be quite difficult for Nana Akufo-Addo to win the region, he is likely to perform well than what he polled in 2016.



COVID-19 and Akufo-Addo’s leadership

The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world has produced all kinds of leaders. The NDC flagbearer, John Mahama put together a COVID-19 team at the onset of the virus to offer advice to the government. While some leaders have been blamed for their reckless handling of the pandemic, Ghana’s case is a story to be proud of. President Nana Akufo-Addo has proven to be a meticulous leader who has managed the pandemic with finesse to the admiration of everybody including world leaders.

In fact, Akufo-Addo has been described as being the leader who has managed COVID-19 better than his peers in Africa as well as the third in the world. Apart from his regular updates which has won many hearts anytime he uses the phrase, ‘fellow Ghanaians’, the President has provided goodies to his countrymen including free water, electricity for everybody, providing stimulus package to businesses, as well as boosting the morale of healthcare workers. Many analysts argue that one of the factors that led to the defeat of Donald Trump in the November 3 United States elections is his poor handling of COVID-19. Akufo-Addo’s management of the pandemic is likely to win him a few floating voters in the upcoming election.


The Rawlings factor/Sympathy votes

It is public knowledge that first President of the Fourth Republic and NDC founder, Jerry John Rawlings until his demise on November 12, 2020 was not in good terms with the current crop of leaders within the main opposition party.

We were told that the NDC unleashed some young saucy boys to deal with Mr. Rawlings anytime he criticised his own party members. In fact several attempts were made by certain persons within the party to destroy the Rawlings legacy to serve their interests. In his book “Working with Rawlings, Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi made damning disclosures that did not please the camp of Jerry Rawlings who came out to dispute the allegations.

In fact Rawlings had been turned basically into ‘a stranger in the house he built and no wonder he rather became a friend to sitting President Akufo-Addo, a long-time adversary. Rawlings in an interview recently on Asaase Radio before his demise observed he voted for his wife, Nana Kondau Agyeman-Rawlings in the 2016 presidential election on the ticket of the National Democratic Party (NDP).

If Jerry Rawlings had stayed alive to vote on December 7, who will he and his close associates have voted for? Is it the NDC, the NDP or the NPP? Your guess is as good as mine. The NDC has been making frantic efforts to capitalise on the demise of Rawlings to win sympathy votes but the party of the wife, the NDP has been quick to ask the NDC ‘to stop crying louder than the bereaved.’ Rawlings undoubtedly had a very large following and one wonders the party those who really believe in his ideals of ‘probity and accountability’ would be voting for come voting day. Is it the NDC or the NDP or possibly the NPP that will be getting the sympathy votes?




Top NDC gurus sitting on the fence

Unlike the 2008 and 2012 NDC campaigns where the party had its leading figures at the forefront of the campaign, the 2020 NDC campaign seems to be suffering from the same fate that could be likened to that of their 2016 campaign. The NDC has Mahama at one end of the campaign, running mate Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman leading another while the party leadership is also on another campaign. Leading personalities including Alban Bagbin, Ekow Spio-Garbrah, Benjamin Kumbour, E.T. Mensah, Rashid Pelpuo, Fiifi Kwetey, Koku Anyidoho, Allotey Jacobs among several others are sitting on the fence and watching. This development is likely to affect the campaign of the main opposition party as some of those leading the NDC campaign this year are seen by many voters of having ‘credibility deficit’ and likely to affect the party’s chances in the polls.

On the other hand, the NPP is campaigning like they are in opposition. While Nana Akufo-Addo is at one side of the campaign, First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo is leading another with Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia at another end. Second Lady Samira Bawumia is also on another leg of the campaign while the party structure is also moving across the entire country doing mopping up. Almost all leading personalities within the NPP who are strong physically are out there campaigning for the party.


Scandals/allegations of corruption against the government

Allegations of corrupt practices have been levelled against the Akufo-Addo government by the main opposition. These include BOST and PDS scandals, ‘cash for seat’, Australian visa scandal, contract for sale scandal, and in recent times, the ‘Agyapa’ deal and alleged political interference in the work of former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu. The opposition NDC has tried as much as possible to capitalise on the allegations to paint the government black but the public is yet to be furnished with details of any wrong doing on the part of government by anti-graft institutions in the country. As to whether such scandals would have any negative ramifications on the fortunes of the governing party, only time will tell.


Impact of African elections on Ghana/Contagion Theory

Ghana’s neighbouring states all held presidential elections this year beginning with Togo in February 2020. President Faure Gnassingbe won a landslide victory. Similarly, Alassane Ouattara was elected for the third term in Ivory Coast October 31, presidential election while incumbent President Roch Kabore of Burkina Faso leads in his country’s election as the electoral body is yet to release final results.

Incumbent President John Magufuli of Tanzania was also re-elected in the country’s presidential election on October 4 while in the Seychelles, Anglican Priest and opposition leader, Wavel Ramkalawan was elected for the first time defeating the incumbent Danny Faure by 54.9% to 43.5%. In the United States incumbent President Donald Trump lost the election to former Vice President Joseph Biden. What is the impact of these elections on the Ghanaian one? Will Ghanaians follow the example of its neighbours and Tanzania or follow the path of Seychelles and the U.S.? It must be emphasised that in 2016 most incumbents that contested elections lost with only few retaining power. It thus appear that a number of incumbents on the continent had been retained and is likely to be replicated in Ghana.


Conclusions/projection for election 2020

From the above discussions and statistics, it is does appear that the trend and a number of factors are in favour of the governing NPP and are projected to win the 2020 presidential election with not less than 51% of total valid votes cast and still maintain its parliamentary majority. Enditem

By: Francis Kobena Tandoh (Email: [email protected] Tel: 0266152633)

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