Political Science Project Topics

Ethnic and Regional Voting Pattern in Ashanti and Volta Region Since 1992

Ethnic and Regional Voting Pattern in Ashanti and Volta Region Since 1992

Ethnic and Regional Voting Pattern in Ashanti and Volta Region Since 1992



Elections largely remain a key criterion in the practice of democracy across advanced countries and the democratization process of most developing countries. Elections is believed to emphasize two elements of democracy –participation and competition. Even though elections, is not an end in its self, it continually remains a means to an end because it provides the major blueprint for democracies to thrive (Gyekye-Jandoh, 2014, Bratton 1999). O’Neil (2007) as cited in GyekyeJandoh (2010) further posits that, elections ensure democratic peace and reduce the likelihood of a democratic reversal, allows completion among elites and provide the platform for the public to participate in the selection of their leaders. Finally, Elections provide a link between the government and the governed as well as facilitates resource distribution (Ayee 2008; Chazan 1987; Gyekye-Jandoh (2014) & Hayward 1987:16-17)


Brief electoral history of Ghana’s 4th republic.

After more than a decade in office of the J.J Rawlings led Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) military regime, a consensus was reached to send Ghana back to a multi-party constitutional rule in 1992.  According to Frempong (2017), three major steps were followed in 1992 to return Ghana to a constitutional rule; namely, The April 1992 referendum held to adopt a new constitution. It is record that, the PNDC tasked an established National Commission on Democracy (NCD) to collate public opinion across the ten regions of Ghana. These views were referred to the consultative assembly and was subsequently upheld to lift the ban on the formation of political parties and to pave way for the presidential and parliamentary elections in November and December 1992 respectively (Frempong, 2017:139-140). This led to the proliferation of some political parties like the National Democratic Congress (NDC) metamorphosed PNDC led by JJ Rawlings, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by a University professor and historian Professor Albert Adu Boahen. Other contesting political parties included Peoples National Convention

(PNC), National Independence Party (NIP), People’s Heritage Party (PHP) and other minor parties like the EGLE and NCP which later formed a coalition with the NDC ahead of the polls.



Theories and determinants of voter behaviour in Ghana

David Sills defines voting as a means of aggregating individual preferences into collective decisions. It may also be seen as an official expression of one’s choice among the possibilities offered or suggested, usually by marking a piece of paper (a ballot) secretly, or by calling out or raising one’s hand.  Zahida&Younis (2014) expands on the literature on voting to encapsulate the means of expressing approval or disapproval of government decisions, the policies and programs of various political parties and qualities of candidate who are engaged in struggle to get the status of being the representatives of people.

The study of voter behaviour is believed to have had its long and vibrant history from 1940s when a team of social scientist at the Columbia University led by Paul Lazarsfeld conducted a study into it for the first time. Over the years, three main theoretical perspectives have been used to explain voting behaviour. These include Sociological theory or the Columbia School Psychosocial or the Michigan School and the Rational Choice perspectives. The sociological perspective shows that long-held factors (social characteristics) such as socio-economic variables, religion, and location are key determinants of voter behaviour. Lazarsfeld et al, posits that majority of people vote according to their original political predisposition. The sociological model stresses the fact that socio-economic and ethnic status is related to the process of the voter’s choice. Party identification, ethnic and religious sentiments for some time have proven to be major determinants of the voter alignment under the sociological variables. With party identification for instance, core sympathizers of a major political party will continue to vote for them at all times even if they don’t have a message or more to offer the electorate. Religious and ethnic backgrounds is on record to have also informed voter choices.


Accounting for the Proliferation of Ethnic Politics

Some of the major factors that have accounted for the proliferation of ethnic politics in Ghana are discussed below.

The Failure of the Central State

During the period immediately after independence (1957-1966), large sections of the educated elite considered any association with one’s ethnic group to be backward and a feature predominant amongst the rural and illiterate sections of the population. The loyalty of the modern, educated elite, on the other hand, was supposed to be directed towards the nation-state rather than the parochial interest of the ethnic group. Educated persons in the urban areas were exhorted to shun regional, ethnic and hometown associations that were gradually becoming part of the livelihood of many migrants in the city. The opportunity to live and interact with persons from other ethnic groups inculcated in the youth a sense of national pride and helped reduced ethnic prejudices and stereotyping among the elite. However, since the 1970s, there has been a weakening of the state and state institutions have been unable to meet the basic needs of the population with respect to providing food, education, health and employment. The pride associated with being identified with the nation-state, rather than the ethnic group, thus began to fade. As the economic situation in the towns worsened, urban residents increasingly sought support in their hometown and ethnic associations, as well as professional, social and religious groups.



This study has examined the role that ethnicity plays in electoral politics and in national life since the return to civilian rule in 1992. We argued that ethnicity has remained a potent force in the mobilization of political support in the country. This is particularly evident in the Asante-Ewe rivalry that has characterized Ghana’s politics since the overthrow of the Nkrumah government in 1966. Although it is not an official policy or strategy of any of the country’s political parties, and is not openly sanctioned by the top leaders of the political parties, Ghana’s two main political parties (the NDC and the NPP) have not shied away from appealing to the electorate to vote for their tribesmen or along regional lines at the presidential or parliamentary elections when they believe it would bring them some electoral advantages in terms of more votes. Indeed, the ethnic and regional background of the candidate is one of the main criteria employed by political parties in the choice of their parliamentary and presidential candidates. The study also indicated that the phenomenon of ethnic block voting is not limited to the rural population but is also widespread amongst the urban population where ethnic prejudices, stereotyping and fear of domination by rival ethnic groups still persist. Nevertheless, the use of ethnicity in mobilizing votes in an election remains a contentious issue in the country. Politicians and political parties are not always successful in using ethnicity to mobilize political support. Besides, large sections of civil society, the press, professional groups, religious bodies as well as many members of the political parties themselves are quick to castigate persons and parties that openly use or encourage the use of ethnicity and ethnic themes during elections. Such groups argue that the use of ethnicity is likely to polarize the society even further and make it difficult for the winning party to govern. Furthermore, there is the fear that electoral campaigns that call for ethnic block voting or exploit existing rivalries or differences amongst neighboring ethnic groups are likely to inflame passion and eventually result in violent inter-ethnic conflicts.

This research paper has also outlined major electoral history, voting trends as well as patterns. Some theories of voting as well as the various was determinants of voter behaviour in Ghana was examined and it came out clear that, some section of Ghanaians act socially when making political choices. This from the research paper includes social proclivities like religion, ethnicity, and political affiliation among others. Rationally, some voters in Ghana also considers or activates the rational choice model in voting. This includes, scrutiny of political message or manifestoes to inform political choice, performance of previous government and others rational indicators.


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