Manifestos and Voting Behavior in Third-Wave Democracies: Evidence from Ghana

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George Ayuune Akeliwira
Dr. Isaac Owusu-Mensah


Custom to pluralistic societies in emergent democracies, political mythology holds that since Ghana's Fourth Republic's inception, electoral outcomes have been fundamentally determined by ethno-political identification and other social cleavages to political parties. However, despite the potential influence of party manifesto contents in determining electoral outcomes, very little is known about the value of party manifestos in shaping voting behavior in the history of elections in the Fourth Republic. This is unfortunate because such knowledge can inform both the academic study of electoral politics and voting behavior. This article, rooted in the classical work on economic voting at both the individual and aggregate levels, presents original results from interviews with voters who participated in all the three recently held elections under study. Through interviews with 11,600 respondents from 116 constituencies and across all 16 regions, the study finds that the voting pattern in recent elections is not consistent with the popular ethno-social dynamics of Ghana's electoral politics. The results imply that party identification remains a significant determinant of voting decisions; nonetheless, the manifesto contents of political parties have become pivotal in shaping voting behavior rather than voting patterns based on socio-psychological notions and political party alignments. It concludes that voter inducement (kind or cash) in election periods is less relevant in structuring voting behavior. Further, it concludes that unless a major realignment occurs, electorates prefer a party with policies that maximize their utilities or will lead to the most considerable average benefit, as there is no reason to vote for a policy with idiosyncratic benefits or values. Thus, parties' policy blueprints or manifesto contents have become strong mobilizers and key determining factors for voters. As such, political parties need to invest in developing concrete policy programs that resonate with the citizenry to spur successful electoral outcomes. 


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George Ayuune Akeliwira, & Dr. Isaac Owusu-Mensah. (2022). Manifestos and Voting Behavior in Third-Wave Democracies: Evidence from Ghana. PanAfrican Journal of Governance and Development (PJGD), 3(2), 3-32.
Research-based/ Original Articles
Author Biographies

George Ayuune Akeliwira, University of Erfurt, Germany

George Ayuune Akeliwira is currently a Ph.D. student with the Centre for Empirical Research in Economics and Behavioral Sciences (CEREB) in the Faculty of Political Science, University of Erfurt, Germany. He obtained his Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Ghana and Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Erfurt in Germany. His current research works include illicit financial flows, mining and local economic development, child labor and social protection policies in Ghana. He has interests in behavioral economics research, impact evaluation of public policies, regional economics and electoral studies.

Dr. Isaac Owusu-Mensah , University of Ghana, Ghana

Dr. Isaac Owusu-Mensah is a Political Scientist with 10 years of teaching experience.  He is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana and previously worked with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Ghana Office, as a Senior Program Manager for fifteen years. He also worked with the African Peer Review Mechanism and the British Council Ghana Office. He utilizes his extensive educational and training background to foster critical thinking in the Department of Political Science and trains a new generation of Ghanaians to engage with, and expand on, the current knowledge of democratization and civil society development in Ghana.


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