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Article: Independent candidates and elections in Ghana: Has Alan got the magic wand?

The politics of independent and or defecting candidates from a mother party to form a new party has been a regular in Ghana’s political space

Following the resignation of Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and his subsequent decision to contest the December 2024 presidential and parliamentary elections as an independent candidate, I set out to analyze all the previous eight (8) elections that we have held as a country under the 4th Republican constitution from 1992 to 2022.

The mission was to first identify the number of independent candidates who have contested in any of the eight elections and how they have fared in the elections they contested. In the course of the assessment, it was discovered that rejected ballots have held an enviable position in our body politic as compared with independent candidates.

The politics of independent and or defecting candidates from a mother party to form a completely new party has been a regular feature in Ghana’s political space. From 1992 to date, there has been several independent and defecting candidates who have contested elections in the country. This is what the data presents.

1992

In 1992, the first election held under the 4th republic, Jerry John Rawlings of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) polled 2,323,135, representing (58.4%) of the valid votes cast. Professor Adu Boahen, the NPP candidate, polled 1,204,764, representing (30.3%) of the valid votes cast and Hilla Limann of the Peoples National Convention (PNC) polled 266,710, representing (6.7%) of the valid votes cast.

Kwabena Darko, in the 1992 election, polled 113,629, which was (2.9%) of the valid votes cast, Emmanuel Erskine 69,827, (1.8%) of the valid votes cast and rejected ballots was 149,811 representing (3.63%) of the votes cast in the 1992 general elections. There was no Independent Candidate in during the 1992 general elections.

1996

In 1996, the second election under the 4th republic, there were only four candidates in the elections. Jerry John Rawlings (NDC) secured 4,101,674 representing (57.4%) of the valid votes cast, John Agyekum Kufuor (NPP) polled 2,829,726, representing (39.6%) of the valid votes cast. Edward Mahama (PNC) polled 214,373 (3%).

Rejected ballots was in excess of 120,921 which represented (1.66%) of the total votes cast. There was no independent candidate in the 1996 election.

2020

In the year 2000, there were two candidates who contested the general elections after defecting from their mother parties. First was Charles Wereko-Brobby (Tarzan) who left the NPP to form the United Ghana Movement (UGM) and Goosie Augustus Obuadum Tanoh who broke out to form the National Reform Party (NRP).

In the 1st round of the 2000 election, John Agyekum Kufuor (NPP) polled 3,131,739, representing (48.4%) of the total valid votes cast. John Atta Mills (NDC) secured 2,895,575, representing (44.8%) of the total valid votes cast. Edward Mahama (PNC) polled 189,659, which was equivalent to (2.5%) of the valid votes cast.

George Aggudey (CPP) polled 115,641, which represents (1.8%) of the valid votes cast. Goosie Augustus Obuadum Tanoh (NRP) and Charles Wereko-Brobby (UGM) the two defecting candidates 78,629 (1.10%) and 22,123 (0.30%) respectively. Dan Lartey of the GCPP polled 67,504 (1%) and rejected ballot was 104,214 representing (1.58%) of the total votes cast.

In this election, the number of rejected ballots was greater than the total votes secured by Goosie Tanoh and Wereko-Brobbey put together even though they defected from their mother parties (NDC and NPP) and formed their own parties for purposes of contesting the 2000 general elections.

2004

The 2004 general election did not have any independent or defecting candidates. President John Agyekum Kufuor will go ahead to win a second term in office with 4,524,074, representing (52.45%) of the valid votes cast, beating John Atta Mills of the NDC who pulled 3,850,368, which was (44.64%) of the valid votes cast.

Edward Mahama polled 165,375 (1.92%), George Aggudey 85,968 (1%). Rejected ballot accounted for 188,123 votes cast representing (2.13%)

2008

During the first round of the 2008 general elections, two independent candidates contested the election. Emmanuel Ansah-Antwi independent candidate) secured 28,471 representing (0.33%) of the valid votes cast and Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah, (independent candidate) had 19,178 which was (0.22%) of the valid votes cast.

In that election, Nana Akufo-Addo had 4,204,073 (49.32%), John Atta Mills 4,070,889 (47.76%), Papa Kwesi Nduom 112,673 (1.32%), Edward Mahama 73,618 (0.86%), Thomas Ward Brew 8,367 (0.10%), Kwabena Adjei 6,443 (0.08%).

The total number of rejected ballots, 205,438, representing (2.37%) of the total votes cast, was by far, greater than the total number of votes secured by all the independent candidates put together

2012

Jacob Osei Yeboah (JOY) in the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections, polled 15,156, which translated into (0.14%) of the total votes cast as the only independent candidate in the said election. The number of rejected ballots which stood at 167,349 (1.54%) of the total votes, was far greater than the total votes secured by the Independent Candidate.

Nana Akufo-Addo in the 2012 elections secured 5,263,286 (47.81%), John Dramani Mahama, 5,573,572 (50.6%), Henry Lartey 38,250 (0.35%), Paa Kwesi Nduom 64,267 (0.58%), Abu Sakara 20,109 (0.18%), Hassan Ayariga 24,621 (0.22%) and Kwasi Addai 8,909 (0.08%)

2016

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2016, won the election with 5,755,758, representing (53.72%) of the total valid votes cast.

In this election, there was one independent candidate, Jacob Osei Yeboah (Joy) and he secured 15,889, equivalent to (0.15%) of the total valid votes cast.

The total rejected ballots which were 167,349 (1.54%) of the total votes was far beyond what the independent candidate obtained.

John Dramani Mahama in that election polled 4,771,188, which was (44.53%) of the total valid votes. Paa Kwesi Nduom, 106,092 (0.99%), Ivor Greenstreet 25,552 (0.24%) and Edward Mahama, 22,214 (0.21%)

2020

11 candidates contested the 2020 general election (the 8th election under the 4th republic) and all of them were candidates of a political party. Nana Akufo-Addo won by 6,730,586, representing (51.30%) of the valid votes cast and John Dramani Mahama came second with 6,213,182 (47.36%).

Christian K Andrews polled 105,548 (0.805%), Ivor Greenstreet 12,200 (0.093%), Akua Donkor 5,574 (0.042%), Henry Lartey 3,564 (0.027%), Hassan Ayariga 7,138 (0.054%), Percival K Apaloo 7,683 (0.059%), David Apasera 10,882 (0.083%), Brigitte Dzogbenuku 6,849 (0.052%) and Nana Konadu Rawlings 6,549 (0.050%)

The magic wand

From the results and analysis above, clearly no independent candidate has ever made any meaningful impact on our previous eight (8) presidential elections as far as the fourth republic is concern.

This is further attested by the fact that, the total number of rejected ballots in every election where there was an independent candidate, have been more than the total number of votes garnered by the independent candidates put together.

With Alan Kyerematen’s decision to go independent, the question that ought to be answered is whether or not the status quo will remain after the 2024 elections or Alan Kyerematen will come to the table with some new energy that previous independent candidates have not had over the last 30 years? The 2024 elections results will be the best poll to answer this question.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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