Political Parties and Democratic Development in Ghana: From Transition to Consolidation and Beyond
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At the time of the Ghana’s independence in March 1957, a democratic system of government was instituted, but the process of political development was derailed and often interrupted by frequent coups. This is evident in the interchange of military and civilian regimes in the last fifty-one years. While in the post-independence era, the development of democracy, the party system and democratic institutions in Ghana has taken many twists and turns due to the persistent military interventions in politics, as part of the third-wave of democratization, in 1992, under Ghana’s Fourth Republic, a new democratic system was re-introduced in the country under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government. The opening of political spaces for the political parties and civil society organizations in the last two decades has witnessed the resurgence of political parties of different sizes and ideological orientation under various political traditions, which has led to the strengthening of Ghana’s party system. This, in turn, has immensely facilitated the country’s democratic development, which was evidenced in the 2000 power alternation that led to the election of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to power. Since the emergence of the third-wave of democratization, there have been numerous theoretical approaches by democratic transition and consolidation theorists on the role of political parties in the nurturing and consolidation of democracy in the third-wave countries. This study examines the internal organization of parties and their role in Ghana’s democratic transition and consolidation. On the basis of the evidence presented in this study, it can be concluded that while the political parties have been the bedrock for Ghana’s democratic transition and consolidation processes, there are a number of key issues such as internal party democracy and candidate selection processes that needed to be resolved by the political parties in order to strengthen Ghana’s democratic consolidation process.