Co-optation Despite Democratization in Ghana

LEGISLATIVE POWER IN EMERGING AFRICAN DEMOCRACIES, Joel D. Barkan, ed., Lynne Reinner Publishers, 2009

17 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2011 Last revised: 13 Aug 2019

See all articles by Staffan I. Lindberg

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute; Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Yongmei Zhou

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

By all indications then, Ghana seems to have come a long way in developing a democracy with a mass based support. Indeed, this trajectory places Ghana in a group of African countries whose transitions seem to be relatively secure (Lindberg 2006), a consolidated democracy.

How do we then explain that one of its core institutions of democracy, the Parliament of Ghana (PoG), does not seem to flourish in the same way as democracy in general? This chapter analyzes the autonomy and performance of the Ghanaian legislature in terms of legislative and oversight functions and finds that these were strengthened during its first two terms following the return to multiparty politics in 1992 (i.e. from 1992 to1996 and from 1997 to 2000), but has declined significantly since. This coincides with an alternation in power when the former opposition party NPP took control over the house and won the presidency in 2000.

Why did this happen? The analysis suggests that limited resources for the legislature, weak capacity of the parliamentary service, a high turnover among MPs, and demands for constituency service all play a part in the explanation. Nevertheless, the most important explanation is to be found in the quest for survival of a new government of President John Kufour under conditions of high political competition, leading to cooptation of the legislature by the executive. The primary means for cooptation have been found in the hybrid constitution of Ghana making it possible for MPs to become ministers; in government’s control over resources for constituency service; and in the creation of seats on procurement boards for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) distributed as perks for loyal MPs.

Keywords: legislatures, member of parliament, Ghana, elections, democracy, democratization

JEL Classification: O10

Suggested Citation

Lindberg, Staffan I. and Zhou, Yongmei, Co-optation Despite Democratization in Ghana (2009). LEGISLATIVE POWER IN EMERGING AFRICAN DEMOCRACIES, Joel D. Barkan, ed., Lynne Reinner Publishers, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1744037 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1744037

Staffan I. Lindberg (Contact Author)

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

Yongmei Zhou

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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