The United Kingdom Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) country report on Ghana made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Thursday indicates that Elections 2012 would be problematic for President John Evans Atta Mills and the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The EIU Report indicates that the NDC looks set to suffer from its internal rivalries, especially if the race to become the party’s presidential candidate degenerates into mudslinging or remains divided
even once the candidate is selected.
“It will also be difficult to balance attention between widening intra-party divisions and moving the development programme forward. The opposition parties will seize upon the public squabbles within the NDC ahead of elections. As a result, the opposition has a good chance of winning power at elections due in 2012,” EIU May 2011 report indicates.
The report describes the challenge by leading members of the NDC for the flag bearer slot of the party as “a damaging blow for Prof. Atta Mills”.
“It undermines the sitting President, who still has over 18 months to serve and faces serious challenges from within his own party.”
The Report describes President Atta Mills as not being universally popular within the NDC and it is now almost certain that he will face a challenge for the party’s presidential candidacy at the 2012 election. “If he wishes to stay on, he should be able to garner enough support to do so, but any squabbles within the NDC ahead of elections will be seized upon by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).”
According to the EIU report tension between the NDC and the NPP is expected to flare up sporadically over the issue of corruption as the NDC has launched a number of investigations into alleged malpractice of NPP officials, much as the NPP did to the opposition during its own period in power (2001 to 2008). The EIU report shows that if Prof Atta Mills wins the July 2011 Congress of the NDC as its Presidential candidate for Election 2012, the election will be a repeat of Election 2008 between NPP’s Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo.
The power of incumbency will give some advantage to the NDC especially in terms of spending the early oil windfall although this advantage is less pronounced in Ghana than in other African countries given its established history of voters evicting the ruling party in favour of the opposition. All of this means that the Election 2012 may be as close as that of 2008. A risk is that in an environment of greater global political tensions coupled with the domestic stakes being higher as oil revenues boost government coffers the losing side may be less accepting of the result than in previous close elections.
EIU says this could greatly increase domestic tensions and could well result in political stability.
The EIU May 2011 Report on “Political Viewpoint in Ghana”, tagged the nation as one of the more robust democracies in sub-Saharan Africa, but cautioned that “it does not mean that political tensions will not run high during the period”.
The report also notes that in spite of the increase in domestic tensions Ghana’s democratic process is considered sufficiently well embedded that a repeat of the situation seen recently in Côte d’Ivoire or during 2007 to 2008 in Kenya would most probably be avoided.