Government Politics of Ghana

Last elections: 7 December 2016 (presidential and legislative)

Next elections: 2020 (presidential and legislative)

Head of State: President Nana Akufo-Addo

Head of Government: the President

Ruling party: New Patriotic Party

After 19 years at the helm, President Jerry Rawlings was barred by the constitution from seeking another term of office in the December 2000 presidential election. For the first time in Ghana’s history there was a democratic transfer of power, after National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate Vice-President John Atta Mills was defeated in the second round of the presidential contest by New Patriotic Party (NPP) leader, John Kufuor. The NPP also won the parliamentary elections held on the same day in December 2000 as the first round of the presidential election.

Kufuor won the December 2004 presidential election gaining an outright majority in the first round with 53.4% of the votes. His main rival, Atta Mills of the NDC, received 43.7% and the turnout was 83%. In parliamentary elections on the same day the NPP took 128 seats, the NDC 94, People’s National Convention (PNC) four and Convention People’s Party (CPP) three. Kufuor promised to make reducing poverty his priority in his second term.

The parliamentary and presidential elections in December 2008 were very close. The NDC won the general election but just fell short of an overall majority; the NDC took 114 seats, NPP 107, PNC two, CPP one and independents four. In the second round of the presidential election, NDC’s Atta Mills narrowly beat NPP’s Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (50.2%:49.8%), reversing the first-round result of Akufo-Addo 49.1% and Atta Mills 47.9%. Commonwealth observers were present.

Following the death of President Atta Mills on 24 July 2012, Vice-President John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as president, in accordance with the law.

At the December 2012 elections, when turnout was more than 80 per cent, the NDC won 148 of 275 seats in the enlarged Parliament and the NPP 123. The NDC’s candidate, the incumbent President Mahama, won a very close presidential contest in the first round with 50.7 per cent of votes cast, the NPP’s Akufo-Addo securing 47.7 per cent and the other six candidates the remaining 1.6 per cent. The elections were conducted in the presence of Commonwealth observers led by former Lesotho PM Pakalitha Mosisili, who said that the election had been generally peaceful but that the level of women’s participation as candidates, and thus as representatives, was very low.

In the 2016 general elections, the NDC and the NPP were the only two parties to secure seats in Parliament.  The NPP increased its share of seats from the previous election to secure a total of 171 to the NDC’s 104.  The election also saw the election of 24 women from the NPP into Parliament, creating a total of 37 women MPs – the most ever in Ghanaian history.  In the presidential election, Akufo-Addo won 53.9% of the votes to John Dramani Mahama’s 44.4% to become the 5th President of the 4th Republic.  The elections were observed by the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, who said that the elections were transparent and inclusive.