Tag Archives: NDC

Mitchell’s NNP sweeps back to power in Grenada, winning all 15 parliamentary seats

keithmitchell

I wrote on Monday that Grenada’s New National Party (NNP) was likely to win today’s parliamentary election — and won it they have, taking all 15 of the seats in Grenada’s lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives.grenada flag

That means that Keith Mitchell, who previously served as prime minister from 1995 to 2008, will return to head Grenada’s government with a slightly more center-right administration, although it remains unclear whether the NNP or the NDC can unilaterally pull Grenada into better economic times when the entire Caribbean region remains economically depressed.

Not to say that the Caribbean region has ever exactly been an engine of economic growth beyond tourism revenue, and that’s of course highly dependent on the global economy.

The last time that one party swept all 15 seats was in 1999, when, once again, Mitchell was leading the NNP.

Not only will Tillman Thomas, the current prime minister and leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lose power, he will lose his constituency, and the NDC will now be entirely unrepresented in the House of Representatives through the next five years.

Thomas’s government was seen as somewhat lackluster and passive in the face of unemployment and economic malaise on an island where tourism is the key industry, and his party was beset with numerous defections and infighting heading into Tuesday’s vote.  Thomas’s former foreign minister Karl Hood even endorsed the NNP, and a former NDC environment minister Glynis Roberts formed a new center-left alternative, the National United Front to challenge for three constituencies on Tuesday.

Unemployment is running between 30% and 40% on the island of around 110,000 residents.

The Caribbean Development Bank has identified Grenada as one of seven Caribbean economies with unsustainable debt levels.

Among the other seven is Barbados, which holds parliamentary elections on Thursday — and prime minister Freundel Stuart’s Democratic Labour Party (DLP) faces a stiff challenge as well from a former three-term prime minister, Owen Arthur, and the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).

The BLP is not as strongly favored to win Thursday’s elections as the NNP was favored to win today’s Grenadian elections, but the result from St. George’s should give Arthur and the BLP some amount of comfort — and likewise, it won’t be an easy 48 hours for Stuart’s drive for reelection.

Photo credit to WEE FM’s Mikey Hutchinson.

Election week in the Caribbean

bajan parliament

Two of the Caribbean’s more colorful island nations go to the polls this week in parliamentary elections — Grenada on Tuesday and Barbados on Thursday.grenada flagbarbados flag

In Grenada, prime minister Tillman Thomas is seeking reelection for his government, led by the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which holds 11 out of the 15 seats in the Grenadian House of Representatives, the lower house of Grenada’s bicameral parliament (the Senate, its upper house, is comprised of 13 members, 10 appointed by the government and three appointed by the opposition).

Meanwhile in Barbados, prime minister Freundel Stuart is seeking election in his own right after succeeding David Thompson as prime minister in October 2010 after Thompson died from pancreatic cancer.  Voters will choose 30 members of the House of Assembly, the lower house of Barbados’s parliament (pictured above).

There are some similarities between the two Caribbean countries beyond the timing of this week’s elections:

  • Both incumbent governments face uphill battles for reelection amid tough economic conditions throughout the Caribbean region — just last week, Jamaican prime minister Portia Simpson-Miller announced the country’s second debt swap plan in three years, designed to alleviate Jamaica’s debt crisis, where public debt stands at 140% of GDP.  Both Barbados and Grenada have been identified by the Caribbean Development Bank as having unsustainable debt levels.
  • In both countries, more right-wing opposition parties are led by former longtime, three-term prime ministers (Keith Mitchell in Grenada and Owen Arthur in Barbados).
  • Both feature stable political systems with a relatively entrenched two-party system, in each case with parties that are essentially moderate that lean only slightly left or right.
  • Both economies remain heavily dependent on tourism, and have absorbed the secondary shock of global economic downturn over the past five years, with each country having its own niche agricultural markets — Grenada is a leading exporter of nutmeg, mace and cocoa, while Barbados exports sugar and rum.
  • Both are former British colonies — Barbados, with nearly 275,000 residents, became independent in 1966, Grenada, with just around 110,000 residents, won independence in 1974 — that were both part of the short-lived West Indies Federation that existed from 1958 to 1962 that also included Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, among other islands.
  • Queen Elizabeth II still serves as head of state for both countries — in Barbados, the Queen’s appointed representative, the governor-general, is responsible for appointing all 21 members of the Senate, the upper house of the Barbadian parliament.
  • Both will be electing members of the lower house of parliament only, and in each case, election is determined on a first-past-the-post basis in single-member constituencies.

Continue reading Election week in the Caribbean

Mahama wins reelection in Ghana over Akufo-Addo; parliamentary results still unknown

Despite howls of protest about fraud from the opposition, John Dramani Mahama (pictured above) has won reelection as Ghana’s president in what appears to be an impressive victory for the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Although Mahama ascended to the presidency only in July upon the untimely death of John Atta Mills, his election victory against Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) exceeded Mills’s own victory against Akufo-Addo in 2008.

Mahama won 50.70%, giving him a margin of victory sufficient for a first-round victory and avoiding a potential runoff on December 28, unlike in 2008, when Mills defeated Akufo-Addo in an incredibly tight contest (and after Akufo-Addo actually won the first round).

Paa Kwesi Nduom of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), who also ran in 2008, finished with 0.59% of the vote, much less than his 2008 total.

Akufo-Addo has not yet conceded defeat, however, and the NPP is considering legal action to annul the election result.  In particular, the NPP is charging that Mahama’s government manipulated the results of two constituencies, one in the north and another in Accra, Ghana’s capital, to deliver 25,000 extra votes to Mahama, and it has called for an audit of the ballots counted in the presidential election.  Although Mahama’s margin of victory was around 326,000 votes, balloting was extended from Friday into Saturday in some regions because of voting glitches.  So while it seems doubtful that Akufo-Addo will prevail, electoral irregularities are not necessarily outside the realm of possibility, and NPP supporters demonstrated outside Ghana’s electoral commission over the weekend in protest.

Akufo-Addo’s familiarity to voters and his status as a veteran politician made him an incredibly effective challenger, especially because of his seductive platform for improvements to Ghana’s primary education system and a promise for universal secondary education and health care for all Ghanaian children.  Ultimately, however, Mahama inherited a government from Mills that grew last year at a staggering rate of 14.4% — Ghana’s economy was already doing very well when oil was discovered in 2007 (and first extracted in 2010), and it would have been quite a feat for Akufo-Addo to have defeated an incumbent in a country that marked Africa’s highest growth rate last year.

The NDC, under longtime president Jerry Rawlings, stabilized Ghana’s once-disasterous economy in the 1980s and 1990s and set the stage for Ghana’s transformation into a democracy.

The weekend’s election marked the fourth consecutive free and fair election since Rawlings peacefully transferred power after the 2000 election to the NPP’s John Kufuor.

What’s more striking than the total vote, however, is the regional result (set forth below in an election map– red for Mahama, blue for Akufo-Addo).  Unlike in 2008, when Akufo-Addo won essentially all of the south of Ghana (except for the greater Accra region in the southeast and the Volta region that runs in a narrow strip along Ghana’s eastern border), Mahama made inroads in what’s been traditionally NPP territory.  It’s worth noting, however, that in the dense Ashanti region (the deep blue region on the map), the heartland of the Akan ethnic group (Ghana’s largest), Akufo-Addo won 71.2% of the vote to just 28.0% of the vote for Mahama, and in the Eastern Region (the only other blue region), Akufo-Addo won 56.3% to 42.6% for Mahama.  Within the greater Accra region, Mahama won a steady 53% of the vote to 46.2% for Akufo-Addo.

We don’t have the full results of the parliamentary elections, which were held simultaneously with the presidential election, but the current count shows the NDC with 84 seats and the NPP with 79 seats.  Ghana’s unicameral parliament currently has 230 seats and is controlled (narrowly) by Mahama’s NDC, but Friday’s election featured an expanded parliament with 275 seats.  Given the closeness of the election and the flexibility of 45 new parliamentary seats, there’s still a chance that the NPP could control the parliament, despite Mahama’s presidential win, an outcome that would be unique in Ghana’s political history.

Ghana votes today

Voters in Ghana are at the polls today!

They’re choosing a new president — the leading candidates are the incumbent, John Dramini Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and Nana Akufo-Addo, the candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), who only narrowly lost the previous presidential election in 2008.  Polls and other evidence indicate that either candidate could realistically lead today’s vote.  If no candidate wins over 50%, a runoff will be held on December 28.

They’re also choosing 275 members of Ghana’s unicameral parliament.  Currently, the NDC holds a narrow majority, but the number of seats will be increased from 230.

Simultaneous parliamentary elections could lead to split Ghanaian government

Although much of the international (and national) attention has been on Ghana’s presidential election tomorrow, it’s important to note that Ghana will also conduct its parliamentary elections as well.

The elections are conducted, rather straightforwardly, in 275 separate single-member constituencies — it’s a first-past-the-post system, so the winner of a plurality of support is elected as a member of parliament.

With the presidential race still incredibly competitive (some polls show incumbent president John Mahama leading, and others show challenger Nana Akufo-Addo with a lead), it’s likely that the parliamentary result will likewise be tight as well, though if no presidential candidate wins over 50% of the vote, the race will go to a runoff on December 28, which would mean that Ghanaians will know which party will control the parliament when they decide who will go to Jubilee House as Ghana’s president.  That could strongly influence whether Mahama or Akufo-Addo win a potential runoff.

Currently, Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) controls 114 seats in Ghana’s unicameral parliament, while Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party controls 107, with seven additional parliamentarians who are either independents or represent smaller parties.  The NDC won control of the parliament in the 2008 elections that saw the NDC’s presidential candidate, John Atta Mills, triumph over Akufo-Addo in an incredibly tight presidential race.  Previously, the NPP held 128 seats and the NDC just 94 seats.

So whatever happens tomorrow, it seems unlikely that either the NPP or the NDC will sweep to a lopsided victory in the parliamentary elections.

That’s especially true given Ghanaian voting patterns over the past decade — the NPP’s traditional support comes from the south of the country, the heartland of the Akan ethnicity group that’s the largest ethnic group in Ghana (nearly 11 million out of a population of over 24 million people).  In fact, the maps of where the NPP led in 2008 in both the presidential and parliamentary election, and the map of the Akan heartland within Ghana, are nearly interchangeable.  The NDC has traditionally won its greatest support in the more Muslim north and along all of Ghana’s eastern border — namely, those areas that are not dominated by the Akan.

Indeed, if either Mahama or Akufo-Addo narrowly emerge with a lead of over 50% tomorrow, it’s even possible that Ghana could elect one party to control the Ghanaian presidency and another party to control the parliament.

The election will also feature a 45-member increase in the number of seats in Ghana’s parliament (from 230 to 275) in order to balance population growth, which could also create additional variability with respect to the ultimate result.  Continue reading Simultaneous parliamentary elections could lead to split Ghanaian government

Who is Nana Akufo-Addo? And how would he govern Ghana?

Ghanaians go to the polls to elect a president and a parliament Friday, and there’s a good chance they will elect to send a new president to Jubilee House.

Although he’s technically the challenger in the race, Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is a narrow favorite to oust John Dramini Mahama, the incumbent and candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), who was elevated to Ghana’s presidency only in July after the death of John Atta Mills, who narrowly defeated Akufo-Addo in the 2008 election by the narrowest of margins.

This time around, Akufo-Addo seems even better placed to succeed in a campaign that has featured spirited debate about how best to provide education and health care to Ghana’s youth, how to approach ongoing tensions and instability in Côte d’Ivoire, and how to continue Ghana’s economy, the strongest in all of Africa.

Akufo-Addo has a strong pedigree in Ghanaian politics — his father, Edward Akufo-Addo, was the third chief justice of Ghana and served as Ghana’s chiefly ceremonial president from 1969 to 1972, as well as one of the ‘Big Six’ leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention that fought for Ghana’s independence and were arrested for their efforts.  Akufo-Addo’s great uncle and uncle were also members of the ‘Big Six.’

Like Mills before him, Akufo-Addo has the advantage of having run in a prior presidential race.  In the 2008 election, Akufo-Addo actually won the first round with 49.13% of the vote to just 47.92% for Mills, but lost the runoff, taking just 49.77% to 50.23% for Mills.

Before the 2008 election, Akufo-Addo, previously an attorney, served in the administration of former NPP president John Kufuor, first as attorney general, where he worked to repeal the criminal libel law that earlier Ghanaian administrations had used to inhibit free speech, and later as justice minister and foreign minister.

As African legal studies scholar Andrew Novak has written earlier this autumn for Suffragio, Mahama has at times looked amateurish and untested against the experienced Akufo-Addo.

Although the NPP is seen as traditionally more of the center-right and the NDC of the center-left, it’s Akufo-Addo who has called for a more activist role for Ghana’s government in the current campaign, including free basic and secondary high school education for all Ghanaians as well as free health care for all Ghanaian children.  Free primary education is enshrined as a fundamental right in Ghana’s constitution, but quality often falls far below acceptable standards, especially in rural Ghana.

Akufo-Addo has repeatedly and forcefully defended his plan against NDC skepticism that the NPP won’t be able to enact such sweeping reforms; Akufo-Addo, in turn, has criticized the NDC for failing to keep its promises from the 2008 election on health care.

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