WP28: The growth of democracy in Ghana despite economic dissatisfaction: A power alternation bonus?

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Working papers
E. Gyimah-Boadi and Kwabena Amoah Awuah Mensah

Almost two years after Ghana's first-ever peaceful transfer of power between political parties in the December 2002 elections, this national study of public opinion seeks to assess political and economic conditions in the country. It evaluates the extent to which democracy and market reforms are taking root, and explores what the people say about current political and economic developments.

The results of this second Afrobarometer survey, conducted in September 2002, reveal that democracy has continued to gain ground despite continuing economic dissatisfaction. The survey presents a picture of a great deal of dissatisfaction with economic conditions. It also shows that poverty remains persistent, and the public is deeply ambivalent over key aspects of neo-liberal economic reforms. At the same time, the survey confirms that Ghanaians remain fully committed to democratic principles. Moreover, support for democratic politics remains very high, and there is growing satisfaction with the way democracy actually works in the country. Survey findings also suggest that the prospects for democracy and development in Ghana are good; though the country is at the same time experiencing a crisis of expectations that may be difficult to satisfy. The country appears to be enjoying something of a "power alternation bonus." That is, it appears that the election of new leaders is engendering better prospects for democratic consolidation.