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Ghana has weak democracy, ranks 78 – EIU’s Democracy Index 2011

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Ghana placed 78 out of 167 independent states including two territories with an overall score of 6.02 on the Economists Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index 2011 released December 15, 2011, same as the 2010 edition.

The EIU describes Ghana’s democracy as a flawed one, meaning the country, despite having free and fair elections as well as respect for basic civil liberties, there are “significant weaknesses in other aspects of democracy, including problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.”

According to the UK-based Unit, free and fair elections and civil liberties are necessary conditions for democracy, but “they are unlikely to be sufficient for a full and consolidated democracy if unaccompanied by transparent and at least minimally efficient government, sufficient political participation and a supportive democratic political culture. It is not easy to build a sturdy democracy.”

The index values are used to place countries within one of four types of regimes: Full democracies – scores of 8-10; Flawed democracies – score of 6 to 7.9; Hybrid regimes – scores of 4 to 5.9 and Authoritarian regimes – scores below 4.

The overall Democracy index is based on five categories: Electoral process and pluralism; Civil liberties; Functioning of government; Political participation; and political culture.

On the electoral process and pluralism category, Ghana scored 8.33 points while in the Functioning of government category, the country scored 5.00.

For both the Civil liberties and Political participation categories, Ghana scored 6.76 and 5.00 respectively. Ghana scored 5.00 points in the political culture category.

For full democratic regime which is the highest on the Index, the EIU says “Countries in which not only basic political freedoms and civil liberties are respected, but these will also tend to be underpinned by a political culture conducive to the flourishing of democracy.”

“The functioning of government must be satisfactory.  Media are independent and diverse. There is an effective system of checks and balances. The judiciary is independent and judicial decisions are enforced. There are only limited problems in the functioning of democracies,” observed the EIU.

Only Mauritius (ranked 24 with 8.04 points) of the 44 sub-Saharan African countries assessed remained a full democracy. Mauritius has maintained a strong democratic tradition since the country gained independence in 1968, the EIU says.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the index noted that elections have become a normal occurrence and that since the late 1990s the number of coups has fallen sharply, whereas the number of elections has increased. However, the index says “many elections are rigged and defeated incumbents often still refuse to accept defeat.”

EIU says elections have become a normal occurrence in sub-Saharan Africa. Number of coups has fallen sharply.

Only in six countries in the region are the elections judged to be both free and fair (Botswana, Cape Verde, Ghana, Mauritius, South Africa and Zambia), it indicated.

Together with the Middle East & North Africa (MENA), the EIU noted that sub-Saharan Africa was the only region in the world that had an improvement in its average democracy score in 2011.

“The number of elections held annually in recent years has increased; since 2000 between 15 and 20 elections have been held each year. Although the holding of elections has become commonplace, not all ballots pass the test of being “free and fair” and many have been charades held by regimes clinging on to power.”

The region has several flawed democracies, headed by South Africa, which just falls short of being a full democracy because of weaknesses in political participation and political culture.

The other flawed democracies are Cape Verde, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Ghana, Mali, Benin and since this year Zambia.

Nigeria was ranked 119 with a score of 3.83 points.

Norway topped the overall index with 9.80 points, followed by Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand with 9.65, 9.52, 9.50 and 9.26 respectively.

North Korea who lost their leader Kim Jong Il on December 19, 2011 through a heart attack onboard a train during a trip out of Pyongyang, was the lowest country on the index with 1.08 points.

The results of the Democracy Index 2011 showed that democracy has been under pressure in many parts of the world. “The democracy score declined in 2011 for 48 countries out of the 167 that are covered. The score increased in 41 countries and it stayed the same in 78.”

The EIU says 2011 was an exceptionally turbulent year politically, characterised by sovereign debt crises and weak political leadership in the developed world, dramatic change and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and rising social unrest throughout much of the world.

It featured important changes in democracy, both in the direction of unexpected democratisation and a continuation of decline in democracy in some parts of the world.

It adds “The momentous events in the Arab world have been extraordinary in several respects. The popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt a year ago were sudden and unexpected, occurring in seemingly infertile territory. These revolts were home-grown affairs that overturned a host of stereotypes about the MENA region and caught the outside world unaware.”

This is the fourth edition of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy index. It reflects the situation as of the beginning of December 2011.

The first edition, published in The Economist’s The World in 2007, measured the state of democracy in September 2006; the second edition covered the situation towards the end of 2008; and the third as of November 2010.

By Ekow Quandzie

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