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This study was carried out on the role of the media in raising awareness about electoral violence in Ghana. The study was carried out in All Nations University, Ghana. The study employed a descriptive and expository approach. The researcher used the purpose sampling technique in selecting 100 respondents out of the students of different institute in All Nations University, Ghana. Questionnaire were used as instrument of data gathering. A total of one hundred (100) questionnaire paper will be distributed and administered within a reasonable period of time. The results of the study showed that the media do not justify issue about riggers and that they magnify the fear and threat of the people in the way they report electoral violence. The study concluded that a larger percentage feel that the media should give proper dissemination, good reporting, unbiased and accurately reporting about electoral violence. The study recommended that the political education should be provided which will inculcate a new value and ethics in the minds of the people, this will affect the family, the peer group, the society as agents of socialization. The ultimate is the development of a new political and democratic order to the electorate.




1.1     Background of the study

Elections are central to the existence, stability and development of democracies; and political parties plays significant role in such democracies. In all these election, representative democracy was fully exercised to determine political power. Regular election constitutes a pre-condition for representative democracy. Equally, participation, accountability, transparency and responsibility constitute the major hub in representative democracy. Elections therefore, are conducted periodically to achieve the goals of democracy. (Abbass, 2008).

Taking a look at the democratic history of Ghana, it is observed that electoral violence has adversely affected the country to the extent of causing major political upheaval and terminating democracy.

Ghana, like many countries in Africa, experienced similar political pressures for reforms (Bratton and Van de Walle, 1994; Kumah-Abiwu, 2011; Frempong and Asare, 2017).The country embarked on its democratic reforms in the early 1990s after the military regime of Jerry John Rawlings succumbed to intense domestic and international pressures for reforms (Bratton and Van de Walle, 1994; Kumah-Abiwu, 2011). While the transitional period of the 1990s marked a significant moment in Ghana’s political/electoral history, Frempong and Asare (2017, p.1) argue that the country had what they have described as “a long rendezvous with elections which dates back to the 1950s, but its blushes with democratic governance had been unimpressive till the Fourth Republic.” In other words, Frempong and Asare’s (2017) reasoning, from a comparative standpoint, is that Ghana’s Fourth Republic can be adjudged as impressive. It is not surprising though that these scholars made that observation. Indeed, the successful multiparty elections that have been conducted in Ghana for more than 25 years support the impressive argument.

In fact, the impressive idea or argument appears to align with Bratton’s (1998) description of Africa’s political reforms of the 1990s as significant. He describes elements of the significant idea from two perspectives. First, the multiparty elections held across Africa, including Ghana, in the early 1990s not only marked a significant breaking point from past trend of military (coup d’états) succession of power, but the “founding elections” of the 1990s introduced a transparent system of leadership succession where authoritarian regimes were peacefully removed from office through competitive multiparty elections (Bratton, 1998). Second, the political reforms with emphasis on multiparty elections across Africa, including Ghana, generated huge support and enthusiasm from the citizenry with high voter turnout at elections as the outcome. Gyekey-Jandoh (2017, p.13) echoes Bratton’s (1998) point by stating that many African people developed a popular consensus that “military rule should be a thing of the past.”

Perhaps, the frequent manipulation of election results amidst the growing acts of electoral violence (Danso and Lartey, 2012; Kumah-Abiwu, 2017) could explain the concerns about elections and democratization in transitional democracies. As Rapoport and Weinberg (2000) have argued, elections can be used to silence guns (military coups), but ballots or elections have also been provoking bullets (macro-level conflicts) in some African countries since the transitional period of the 1990s. In effect, one might ask whether multiparty elections are helping or hurting Africa’s emerging democracies. This is where Lindberg’s (2006a) book titled: Democracy and Elections in Africa becomes important in providing new insights in the attempt to better understand multiparty elections and democratization in Africa. While aware of the problems and challenges confronting the conduct of multiparty elections, especially during the transitional era of the 1990s, Lindberg’s (2006a) work has revealed that multiparty elections serve beyond the conception of elections as formalities of transitioning from authoritarian regimes to democratic systems of government. For Lindberg (2006a), repetitive multiparty elections, even when flawed, serve as a mechanism for strengthening transitional democracies. This conceptual notion of election appears to depart from the pessimistic view of elections in Africa.

Although Ghana’s record in conducting multiparty elections since the Fourth Republican Constitution was adopted in 1992 has been praised for the successes chalked within the past 25 years (Owusu-Mensah, 2016; Asante and Asare, 2017), we should also note that Ghana’s electoral landscape has been characterized by electoral irregularities and acts of election-related violence (Danso and Lartey, 2012). The important question the article seeks to examine is: To what extent is Ghana’s democratic development being shaped by repetitive multiparty elections in spite of some electoral defects or flaws? To examine this research puzzle, we employ Lindberg’s (2006a) theoretical concept (democraticness of elections) for the analyses. The article is organized into three parts. The first part discusses the core elements of Lindberg’s (2006a) theory or conceptual idea and its utility to the debates on elections and democratization in Africa. The second part integrates the literature on multiparty elections with the conceptual tenets of the theory in our analyses of Ghana’s electoral landscape since 1992. This section further explores the successes of Ghana’s elections with emphasis on key state actors that shape the conduct of elections. State actors such as the Electoral Commission (EC), civil society groups, and other state institutions are examined. The third or concluding part draws on the six conceptual elements of Lindberg’s (2006b) concept with the literature to analyze whether Ghana’s repetitive multiparty elections and the role of key state actors (e.g., the EC, civic society groups, judiciary and the media) engaged in the electoral process are helping or hurting the country’s democratic advancement. The article’s contribution to the literature is twofold. First, we re-categorized and systematically integrated the six conceptual tenets of Lindberg’s (2006b) theory with the literature to examine whether Ghana’s efforts at democratic development through repetitive elections, although deficient in some respects, have helped to advance the country’s democracy or not. Second, we expanded on Lindberg’s (2006b) theoretical ideas by introducing the role of election monitoring agencies (domestic, continental and global) in Ghana’s elections and democratic advancement. We conclude by underscoring the argument that the conceptual idea of repetitive elections, even when flawed, as Lindberg (2006a; 2006b) has articulated in his works, provides utility in our attempt to better understand how Ghana’s repetitive multiparty elections have positively shaped the country’s democratic consolidation since 1992.

Ugiagbe (2010) highlighted that Electoral violence has regularly been reported in Ghana and manifests in the three (3) electoral stages, namely pre-election, during election and post- election in various forms. Electoral violence in Ghana has two broad dimensions, physical and psychological. Electoral violence ranges from acts of assault, arson, ballot box snatching and stuffing to murder/ assassination. He further observed that electoral violence amongst other forms has claimed more than 11,000 lives in Ghana between 1999 and 2006.

Electoral violence can result in casualty tolls that meet the threshold of civil war within days or weeks; when this occurs, it can undo years of peace building and development work, it can undermine democratic institutions, and it can even trigger civil war.

Given the substantive relevance of electoral violence as a problem, it is important for academic researchers to have a clear understanding of its prevalence, causes, and dynamics, as well as what can be done to prevent it.1 The study of electoral violence has grown out of two largely independent streams in political science – the literature on conflict and political violence, on the one hand, and the literature on electoral misconduct, on the other.

Politically speaking, violence has affected democratic foundation of the country. Although, it is an acceptable fact that violence is an indispensible factor in the human existence (Ayene Akeke 2008).

According to Iwu (2010) Ghana with acknowledged resilience and reasonable economic strength, many decades of existence under dictatorship, with the unrestrained primitive accumulation of wealth that went with military regimes left the society with powerful political interests and cleavages which could easily undermined the processes of electoral democracy, if care was not taken.

However, sustenance of democracy in Ghana has always been challenged by crises, uncertainty chaos, fears, terror and insecurity challenges. It is an acceptable fact that within 54 years in which 13 times election have been held, conflict reading situation have featured prominently in those elections. (Mgbachi, et al 2014).

Quoting copiously, Abbass (2005) Election in Ghana since independence has turn out to be a serious political liability, causing serious political turmoil and threatening the survival of corporate Ghana.

Abbass (2008) quoting Ake (2001), Adekaye (1989), Nnoli (1987) further posited that with unprecedented political thuggery and uncontrolled violence, characterized by wanton destruction of lives and property, election period in Ghana are best described as warfare.

It is also documented by Kolaowole (1988) that the near state of anarchy which prevailed in the country in 1965 aYear 1967 was as a result of unprecedented electoral violence in the western region perpetrated by the intra-party squabble within the Action group (AG), houses were burnt, property destroyed, human beings were murdered in cold blood and there was complete breakdown of law and order. Thus, this became the immediate cause of the military first incursion into the nation’s politics.


1.2   Statement of the problem

The major problem faced by the sustenance of democracy is the existence of electoral violence. This violence negates peaceful co-existence, law and order in addition to security concerns; it militates against the consolidation of democracy. this in turn impact on the social and economic well being of the nation and creates imbalances or instances of structural violence (Galtung 1969; 167-191) that could lead to escalated conflict as was the cause with the Biafran war.

Iwu (2004) observed that electoral violence occur when electoral process is perceived as unfair, irresponsive, or corrupt that its political legitimacy is compromise and stakeholders are motivated to go outside the establish norms to achieve their objective.

Critical scholars and political commentators like Kolewale (1988), & Duley (1979) have tenaciously observed that the history of electoral politics in Ghana have not been encouraging. Electoral politics has always been a source of unrestrained resentment, irrational actions and political instability. In other words, elections have also invariably been accompanied by breakdown of political regime.

Furthermore, often mention among these challenges is the negative and devastating effect that came out from this electoral violence which equally affects sustainability of democracy.

Moreover, Pruitt and Kim (2004; 109) stated that acts of electoral violence are likely to result in hostile goals like; the desire for revenge in political opponents which could lead to conflict escalation. This perhaps explains why almost all political parties in Ghana are involved in electoral violence.


1.3   Objective of the study

The broad objective of this study is to investigate the role of the media in raising awareness about electoral violence in Ghana.

The following are the specific objectives of this study:

  • To enlighten the public and see how the mass media has influence the attacks of riggers.
  • To see if the mass media have a positive or negative influence on the people.
  • To see if the mass media are publicizing the riggers for their own interest, that is getting the attention of more viewers.
  • To examine the cause and effect of electoral violence on the people, government and the economy.
  • To see how the mass media has also assisted the government in fighting electoral violence.


1.4    Research questions

For the purpose of this study, the following research questions will be considered

  • Is the mass media not magnifying the threat and fear of the people in the way they report electoral violence?
  • What are the effects of media crusade against electoral violence?
  • What roles should the mass media play in fighting against electoral violence?
  • To what extent do media report electoral violence?


1.5    Significance of the study

The significance of this research work is at two levels; it has both theoretical and empirical significance.

Theoretically, the research will contribute to academic and the advancement of knowledge. The study is expected to contribute to the knowledge by adding to the existing literature, electoral violence and sustenance of democracy thus investigating and stimulating further research from students and scholars.

Empirically, the study will help policy makers and stake holders in the political and election process. It will have a great utility to the government, the independent national electoral commission (INEC).

The findings of the study will serve as a veritable, credible and functional policy input for the government as it will help to provide strategies of improving electoral process in Ghana.


1.6     Scope of the study

Operationally, this study covers the role of the media in raising awareness about electoral violence in Ghana. The study focuses on the 2016 General election

1.7     Limitations of the study

However the research has some constraints which are;

Time: the time at the disposal of the researcher which is allocated for the study was a major limitation as the researcher has to combine other academic work with the study.

Finance: The finance at the disposal of the researcher in the course of the study does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.


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