Political Parties and Political Participation in Ghana
by Prof. Kwame A. Ninsin
Political parties became important as instruments in Ghana’s democratic practice as early as the 1950s when the country was in transition from colonial rule to an independent sovereign nation-state. As many as 8 political parties emerged between 1954 and 1957 to participate in the struggle for self-determination against British colonial rule. Between 1969 and 1972 when the country freed itself from the first military regime, between 5 and 12 political parties were formed to join hands in the agitation to restore democratic rule in the country. In 1979 when the country had to reclaim her government from the military and place it on a democratic basis there was an explosion of political parties: 11 political parties mushroomed; by 1981 the scramble to form political parties had simmered down reducing the number to 6 that existed at various levels of engagement in the political process until the last and longest military regime usurped power from December 1981 to December 1992.To varying degrees these parties expressed different identities: especially in the transition from colonial rule to independent nationhood. Some of the political parties were formed to express sub-national or ethnic, regional, religious or supra-national identities. Invariably however, all of them were guided by a single dynamic logic: namely, the burning desires to exercise the democratic rights which people all over the world cherish: namely, the right to free choice, to self-determination, to association, and the right to associate freely. Invariably also, the emergence of political parties was linked to elections through which the core values of democracy were affirmed. That is, the struggle for the franchise was linked closely to the struggle fo political and civil rights – of freedom and self-determination.