Ghana’s prevailing economic conditions and crippling energy crisis will not favour the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2016 elections.
The conditions, rather give the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) the upper hand in next year’s elections, the latest Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) has predicted.
In its latest report on Ghana that touched on a number of issues including the economy, the country’s international relations, the energy crisis and the political situation in Ghana, the report suggested that given the little time the government had to tame the country’s economic challenges, the NPP would win next year’s elections in a very close contest.
But speaking on Joy FM, an Accra-based radio station, a Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Koku Anyidoho, said the party was not bothered about the predictions of the EIU.
“Nobody is running away from the fact that there are challenges. The President and the party have never run away from that fact”, he told the station.
He said the numerous projects being undertaken by the government in “every nook and cranny of the country… is historic” and that could not be underrated.
“We are still focused on delivering on our Better Ghana Agenda, so in 2016 Ghanaians will make a decision. The EIU report is not going to give us any sleepless night at all.”
NPP’s pre-election work
An NPP victory, the report said, was premised on two things — the party needed to work hard to attract votes from outside its heartlands in central Ghana, while maintaining internal unity.
In the 2012 elections, the NPP won two out of the 10 regions—Eastern and Ashanti, losing in swing regions such as Greater Accra and Central.
The report also projected that the NDC would continue to enjoy strong support in the east and north of the country, due to historical and tribal allegiances.
By its estimation, Greater Accra, a historical swing region, would be a key battleground so tension in the economic hub could disrupt business operations—probably a repeat of the 2008 elections.
Elections and political tension
According to the report, the presidential and parliamentary elections next year would witness significant tension but the heated moments will not cause any serious breakdown in overall political stability.
However, according to the United Kingdom-based provider of country, industrial and management analysis, the projections were not to say “there is no risk of lower-level instability.”
In a report that measured the country’s political temperature to project its future, it said “The NPP will attempt to act as a focus for disenchanted Ghanaians to rally around, knowing that attacking the government’s economic record represents its best chance of taking power at the elections due in December 2016.”
“This will exacerbate political tension throughout 2016 and could lead to isolated violence between rival supporters,” it said.
In a region known for its political upheavals, the report forecasted that in extreme cases, public anger could snowball into mass action, as seen in a number of Arab countries in recent years and in Burkina Faso ,where a citizen revolt last year resulted in the removal of President Blaise Campaore from the office he occupied for 27 years.
The report was, however, quick to add that such a level of instability was unlikely in Ghana, where democracy was much more firmly established.
“The entrenchment of the democratic process is the most powerful factor in preventing popular unrest expanding to the point that it threatens the political structure as a whole.
“The positive example set by Nigeria in its 2015 elections, in which an incumbent president was peacefully voted out of office for the first time, is also likely to bolster local confidence in bringing about change at the ballot box rather than on the streets, “it said.
2016 election results could end up in court?
In 2012, the election ended up in court with almost eight months of legal battle that the NDC won. The EIU indicated that there was the prospect that a close election result would be challenged by the losing side, as happened in 2012.
At a time that Ghana’s judiciary has been caught in the web of corruption, the report said, “a lack of trust in the judiciary would make it more likely that any verdict on the 2016 election is not accepted, which would be a major threat to stability.”
The antidote, in the opinion of the EIU, was that “as seems likely currently, the judiciary should undertake a transparent, if slow moving, investigation and punish those guilty of wrongdoing, then trust should be improved by the time the next elections come round.”
Spending within the budget in 2016
The government has promised to keep to the 2016 budget—a promise it made prior to the 2012 elections but failed to keep.
The precedent seems to have given the EIU a hint that “pre-election spending in 2016 will put renewed pressure on the fiscal deficit, before more strenuous efforts to restrain spending are expected in 2017.”
“Inflation will stay high in 2016, given expansionary fiscal policy, before moderating to an average of 8.8 per cent in 2019 as policy tightens. An uptick in inflation to 9.4 per cent in 2020 is then forecast, given pre-election spending.”
“Subdued commodity prices will restrain exports and keep the current account deficit high in 2016. The deficit will then start to narrow from 2017 as new oil exports come on stream while prices recover,” it said.