Economic Reform and Democratic Transition in Ghana

By Jeong, Ho-Won | World Affairs, Spring 1998 | Go to article overview

Economic Reform and Democratic Transition in Ghana


Jeong, Ho-Won, World Affairs


Though many factors can threaten democratic rule in Africa, sustainable democracy is not easy to build during economic difficulties. It thus is important to examine the politics of economic reform in the context of promoting democracy. Structural adjustment based on neoclassic economic theories has been a dominant development strategy for the last two decades. The major components of adjustment programs, introduced in response to pressure from international financial institutions, include cuts in subsidies to prices of basic goods and services, elimination of price controls, devaluation of currencies, and free trade, Given their negative impact on economic welfare, these policies have major ramifications for political stability.(1) In some countries, including Zambia in 1990, growing popular opposition resulted in street riots; followed by change in the political leadership. Thus, especially at the early stage of structural adjustment that requires tough austerity measures, opposition may need to be repressed for the survival of the regime.(2)

In the midst of pessimism in Africa, Ghana, along with Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, and Gambia, has shown better economic performance than other countries.(3) In addition, pressure for democratization resulted in the return of a multiparty political system for the first time in more than a decade. The victories of the ruling party in the 1992 and 1996 national elections legitimized the liberal economic reform sponsored by international donors. Democratization following economic recovery in Ghana may suggest a model of political economy replicable to other African countries.

This article examines the political economy of democratic transition in Ghana. More specifically, it assesses the relationships between liberal economic reform and democratization. Did the Ghanaian experience of implementing structural adjustment programs have a positive impact on the country's efforts to build democracy? In what ways are popular interests important in the political process? What are the prospects for sustainable democracy? After briefly reviewing political legacies before the Rawlings regime, I will concentrate in the major pan of this article on analysis of the recent democratization process and examine not only what brought about democratization but also the conditions needed for building a stable political system.

ECONOMIC CRISIS AND POLITICAL CHANGE, 1957-1982

Ghana saw nine changes of government between 1957 and 1983, including four military coups, but it has escaped the violence seen in most other countries. In contrast to much of Africa, ethnicity has played a relatively minor role in political conflict.(4) For the most part, economic mismanagement has been the most common source of dissatisfaction. Problems with the distribution of resources among interest groups, along with economic stagnation, often created conditions for political protests.

Since its independence, the role of the state in Ghana has varied with the economic ideologies and political support bases of different governments. During the Nkrumah regime (1957-1966), the state was involved in various socialist development projects.(5) The government was supported by urban-based constituents who favored an expanded state sector, rapid industrialization, and economic self-sufficiency. Until the early 1960s, efforts to build major infrastructure and industrial bases were helped by revenue from export of cocoa. However, decline in cocoa prices in the world market and the cost of big projects produced massive imbalances of payments. The instability of the Nkrumah development strategies are related to their dependence on expensive, imported capital-intensive technology and on heavy investment in the infrastructure. To finance such a program the government had to borrow from the world banking system, engage in deficit financing and monetary expansionism, and impose higher taxes. Political discontent following economic instability facilitated the collapse of the nationalist Nkrumah government. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Economic Reform and Democratic Transition in Ghana
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.