Ethnicity in Electoral Politics in Ghana: Colonial Legacies and the Constitution as Determinants Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper assesses political allegiances in Ghana, positioning its ethno-political divide into the historical contexts of institutional design and colonialism in Africa. It argues that whilst the colonial policy of Indirect Rule solidified ethnicity in Africa, post-colonial governments used it differently, with varying effects on institutional design and state-building. In concert with other constitutional provisions, Ghana’s Article 55 of 1992 Constitution has curtailed extreme ethnic politics through the limit it places on ethnicity in party politics. Whilst outlawing ethnicity in politics, the constitution provides other depoliticised outlets for expressing diversity, especially through decentralisation and legitimisation of chieftaincy institutions. Despite these safeguarding provisions, the Asantes and Ewes have consistently taken entrenched political positions since 1992, and this article explicates some of the drivers using longitudinal election results. It draws on institutional design complexities in multi-ethnic societies in Africa to propose lessons and convey implications for Ghana’s Fourth Republic Constitution.

publication date

  • January 1, 2020

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