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Ghana’s Durable Democracy

The Roots of Its Success

At a campaign rally for John Dramani Mahama, Ghana's president, in Accra, December 2016. Luc Gnago / REUTERS

Whether democracy will play a central role in Africa’s future has been an open question for most of the continent’s postcolonial history, and perhaps no events so vividly signify democratic progress as do elections. But by focusing on the details of the contests that define democratic transitions, it is easy to overlook the deeper roots of effective democratic governance, which lie in strong institutions and the political cultures that support them. 

Last month’s presidential election in Ghana—its seventh since its return to democracy in 1992—was a reminder that the country is a case study in both of those positive tendencies. The election, won by Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), was free, fair, and competitive, and the handling of the vote was praised abroad. What sets Ghana apart is a long-standing history of institutional strength and nation-building. Preserving those advantages will require the more

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