Evaluating democratic consolidation in Ghana.

Essay by carobUniversity, Bachelor'sB, August 2003

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Democratisation was not supposed to happen in Africa - at least concede the majority of political scientists. According to the main theories about the requirements or positive conditions for democracy, most African countries constituted "infertile terrain (Joseph 1999, 238)".

Africa simply had too little of what seemed obligatory for constitutional democratic politics. African states were too poor and not sufficiently capitalist, they were not fully infiltrated by western Christianity and lacked the essential civic culture. Compounded to this, African states had originally been drawn up with artificial boundaries, causing them too be excessively ethnically and culturally fragmented. The middle or bourgeois classes were predominantly weak and usually more bureaucratic than entrepreneurial, more often than not, they were also drafted into the authoritarian political structures. Working classes were, for the most part, in the early stages of development. Who would be the social agents of democracy?

In 1984, Samuel P. Huntington wrote that "with few exceptions the limits of democratic development may well have been reached (Huntington 1984, 216)," he did not regard any of the African states as exceptions, as "most African countries are by reason of their poverty or the violence of their politics unlikely to move in a democratic direction (Huntington 1984, 218)."

Likewise, Robert Dahl did not anticipate "any dramatic changes within the number of polyarchies within a generation or two (Dahl 1971, 208)." It was hence regarded as quite astounding when, by the end of 1992, many African countries returned to competitive party politics.

Ghana was the precursor of political change in Sub-Saharan Africa when it won independence in 1957 under the leadership of President Kwame Nkrumah. Nonetheless, while it was the first country in the region to be free of colonial rule, it was also one of the first countries in Africa to experience an...