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This document is available in English.
This constitution is available in English.
Political power in contemporary sub-Saharan Africa is often portrayed as being highly informal and heavily personalised. The assumption that personalised politics is how 'Africa works' has led to the neglect of the study of Africa's formal institutions, including parliaments. This article assesses the position of the Parliament of Ghana under the Fourth Republic. It displays evidence suggesting that over successive parliamentary terms parliamentary committees became increasingly adept at handling legislation, and inputting into the policy process. It also shows that the parliament was increasingly able to oversee the implementation of legislation. Although the findings of hitherto undocumented progress represent a valuable nuance, the argument that the parliament became increasingly able to input into the legislative process says exactly that; while the parliament became increasingly capable of amending legislation rarely was this witnessed. The article argues that parliamentary development in Ghana has been a function of three interacting structural factors: the constitution; unified government since 1992; and political party unity. The strong partisan identities of legislators from the two major political parties – the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) – provide the executive with extra leverage to control the parliament. Throughout the Ghanaian parliament is juxtaposed with the Kenyan National Assembly. More substantially, the article seeks to force a revision of the dominant narrative that generalises African party systems as fluid and fragmented, and African political parties as lacking any recognisable internal cohesion or ideology.
While Ghana’s democracy is often cited as one of the most functional in Africa, moving forward, organizational resources will continue to be a constraint to democratic consolidation. This paper will focus specifically on the Ghanaian Legislature and present the existing organizational resource deficits and how this lack of resources, both human and infrastructural, has hindered the efficient and effective performance of Ghana’s Parliament. In conclusion, this paper will assess the existing level of political will to address these shortcomings to enable the improved performance of the Parliament of Ghana.
The Fourth Republic of Ghana was inaugurated on 7th January 1993, following eighteen years
of military rule under the leadership of Flight Lt. J. J. Rawlings. The transition to multi-party democracy had been publicly approved by national referendum in 1992 in which the overwhelming majority of voters (93 percent) approved the new Constitution. Following a disputed introductory presidential election, won by the incumbent Rawlings with 58 percent of the national vote, the main opposition party pulled out of the parliamentary elections that followed. Aside from the electoral dispute, Ghana’s transition to multi-party democracy was smooth, and the opposition soon entered into a dialogue with the government under the supervision of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee. Since 1992 Ghana has made substantial democratic progress, holding progressively free and fair elections every four years, and witnessing two successful democratic alterations of power in 2000 and 2008.
Books and Chapters
A puzzle underpins this groundbreaking study of legislative development in Africa: Why are variations in the extent of legislative authority and performance across the continent only partially related, if at all, to the overall level of democratization? And if democratization is not the prime determinant of legislative authority, what is? Exploring the constraints that have retarded the development and power of legislatures across Africa—and how members of some legislatures are breaking free of those constraints—the authors shed new light on the impact of the legislative branch on the political process in six emerging African democracies.