Public dissatisfaction with economic challenges, the slow pace in development and the tackling of corruption are likely to inhibit the chances of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) winning the 2024 presidential election, the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has predicted.
The EIU has, therefore, predicted that the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) “stand a reasonable chance of winning the 2024 elections” due to the quest of the electorate to seek for change in the face of the challenges.
The report, however, said it expected the NDC to come out with a fresh candidate other than former President John Dramani Mahama to “revitalise its prospects”.
“The former President, John Mahama, is reportedly considering running again, but we expect the opposition NDC to try to revitalise its prospects with a fresh candidate,” the report stated.
The prediction was based on the EIU's five-year forecast on Ghana released on April 13, this year.
NPP welcomes constructive analysis
Relatedly, the NPP has said it welcomed a constructive analysis of the governance of the country.
According to the EIU, its baseline forecast was that ongoing public dissatisfaction with the slow pace of improvement in governance, such as infrastructure development, job creation and easing of corruption, would trigger anti-incumbency factors and push the electorate to seek a change.
Furthermore, it stated that public discontent with the government stemmed from factors, including rising prices, which had been exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, unfavourable public-sector working conditions, limited economic opportunities for young people, which had been stoked by the COVID-19 pandemic, and perceptions of corruption.
According to the report, although the EIU expected the NDC to win the 2024 elections due to discontent with the NPP government, an NDC-led government would also face the same challenges that bedeviled the NPP government.
“We expect a transfer of power to the NDC in the 2024 elections, driven by anti-incumbency factors and public dissatisfaction with the current government.
“However, irrespective of who retains power, we expect policy continuity in the medium-term, with a focus on improving food security, industrialisation and economic diversification. The new government will face similar challenges to its predecessor, but overall political stability will prevail,” the EIU said.
Thin parliamentary majority
On Parliament, the EIU predicted that the thin majority in Parliament would test the government's resolve in building consensus with the NDC to push through its policy in Parliament.
“Similar issues with achieving consensus on major legislation will slow policy-making and test the government's strength throughout the remainder of its term (until 2024),” it added.
Taking a look at the economic front, the report indicated that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows were expected to strengthen as a share of GDP over 2022-26, averaging 6.1 per cent of GDP, with investment in manufacturing, services and mining as the government's strategy progressed.
It said Ghana would benefit from a formal International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, given investor concerns about fiscal sustainability, but the government would prioritise policy independence and be reluctant to return to the fund.
‘We expect that real GDP growth will rise to 5.2% in 2022; we expect gold production and processing to strengthen in 2022, driven by the recommissioning of the Bibiani gold mine in western Ghana, with first gold pour expected in the second half of 2022,” the report said.
Furthermore, it said the Ghana CARES Obaatanpa initiative would buttress agricultural sector growth between 2022 and 2026 by supporting increases in cocoa output and agro-processing.
“The sector will register growth, benefiting from government investment to improve cocoa yields and from moves towards self-sufficiency for staples such as rice. This will be reflected in a rise in agriculture as a percentage of GDP, from an estimated 22.2 per cent in 2021 to 24.3 per cent in 2026,” it stated.
With regard to political stability, the EIU was of the view that Ghana would continue to enjoy political stability, in spite of the acrimonious nature of its politics.
“EIU expects Ghana's underlying political stability to endure over the forecast period, despite a highly acrimonious party-political landscape.
“The fierce rivalry between the two major parties - the ruling NPP and the opposition NDC - will remain the core feature of the political scene,” it said.
In the NPP's reaction, signed by its National Communications Director, Yaw Buaben Asamoa, the party noted that the EIU had a record of reviewing the country's governance systems, especially potential political outcomes.
“To buttress its prediction of the NDC winning the presidential election and the parliamentary elections by a slim margin in 2024, the EIU touts its record of successful predictions over the years.
“The EIU hangs its prediction on the usual assumption. That presidential power has been rotating over eight-year periods in the Fourth Republic is a fact, so far. If the NDC wins, it will not be news; but if the NPP wins, it will be a remarkable achievement that will demonstrate the coming of age of electoral politics in Ghana,” the NPP stated.
It, however, noted that the EIU introduced “a new and significant double-edged factor into the eight-year cycle; that is, the quality of leadership.
“The EIU implies that former President Mahama's record of leadership is so poor that if he becomes the candidate, the NDC-predicted win goes up in smoke. This is a huge boost to the NPP effort of ‘breaking the 8', since we are confident that the NPP candidate will have a better governance record based on the cumulative achievements of the NPP in the Fourth Republic,” it added.
According to the NPP, the cumulative record of the NPP in the areas of employment, infrastructure and anti-corruption was far better than that of the NDC.