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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Columnist: GODWIN ADJEI-GYAMFI

NPP Tops Afrobarometer Poll

The NPP overall is the government of choice for the majority of Ghanaians for the 2012 election says Afrobarometer.

Four rounds of Afrobarometer surveys have been conducted in Ghana since 1999. Round 2 was conducted in 2002 when the administration of President John Kufuor and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had barely settled in office; Round 3 was conducted in 2005 when the government had recently renewed its electoral mandate.

The current Round 4 survey (March 2009) coincides with the year in which the Kufuor-NPP administration lost power and will be heading for the polls (in December 20012).

The findings of Afrobarometer Round 4 make it possible to ascertain popular assessments of the performance of the President and the NPP government in the nearly eight years it was in office and to analyze the implications for the party in the impending electoral contest.

The Afrobarometer has compiled a series of public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, markets and living conditions. The survey is based on a randomly selected national probability sample of 1200 respondents representing a cross-section of adult Ghanaians aged 18 years or older, across the ten regions which yields a margin of error of ±2.5 at a 95 percent confidence level. All interviews were conducted face-to-face by trained fieldworkers in the language of the respondent’s choice. Fieldwork for Round 4 of the Afrobarometer in Ghana was undertaken between March 4 and 27, 2008. Note that for purposes of cross-national comparison, the questions on the survey were administered to random national samples in 19 other African countries before the end of 2008; comparative results will be presented in upcoming briefing and working papers from Afrobarometer Round 4.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS:

Large majorities of Ghanaians approve of the performance of the EX President. They also rate the performance of the NPP administration positively in many areas, especially in the delivery of healthcare and education services. Moreover, trust in the then ruling party (The NPP) is high and has increased over time.

PERFORMANCE RATING Overwhelming majorities of Ghanaians believe the NPP government done well in the following areas: • improving basic health services (83 percent); • addressing educational needs (81 percent); • combating HIV/AIDS (78 percent); • empowering women (75 percent) and • managing the economy (69 percent).

Indeed, the NPP administration received a higher popular performance rating for the overall management of the macro-economy in 2008 (69 percent) than in any previous survey, a significant increase from 55 percent in 2005, and up slightly from 66 percent in 2002. (Note, however, that the increase between 2002 and 2008 falls within each survey’s margin of sampling error).

The popular performance ratings of the NPP government for the delivery of health care and education services have risen significantly and consistently since 2002. In fact, popular approval for the delivery of healthcare services increased by 21 percentage points between 2002 and 2008, and by 18 percentage points for education. The administration’s interventions, notably the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the capitation grants and school feeding programs for basic schools are likely to have positively influenced the favourable ratings in these sectors.

Majority of Ghanaians rate the NPP government’s performance positively in the following areas: • protecting rivers and forests (65 percent); • reducing crime (64 percent); • providing reliable electric supply (64 percent); • providing water and sanitation services (62 percent); • maintaining roads and bridges (61 percent); • ensuring everybody has enough to eat (56 percent); • fighting corruption (55 percent); • creating jobs (54 percent) and; • improving living standards of the poor (50 percent)

JOB CREATION *Questions about water and transportation infrastructure were not asked in early surveys.

It is also noteworthy that the NPP’s performance in job creation achieved majority approval (54 percent) for the first time since Afrobarometer surveys began in Ghana in 1999. No other African country surveyed in the Afrobarometer in 2005 could claim that a majority approved of its performance at job creation. Ghana’s singular achievement on the employment front may be linked to the introduction of the National Youth Employment Program (NYEP) in 2006 to provide jobs and job training for the youth.

Moreover, government performance in the delivery of water and sanitation services increased from a small majority (56 percent) in 2002 to a solid majority (62 percent) in 2008, a possible reflection of the impact of the collaboration between a private sanitation services provider – Zoomlion – and government through the various local government authorities (district assemblies). The public’s rating for maintaining roads and bridges increased from a minority 46 percent in 2005 to a majority (61 percent) in 2008, reflecting the visible expansion of road networks in major towns and cities. In 2002, a solid majority (63 percent) said the NPP government was doing well in fighting Corruption. The declaration of a policy of “zero tolerance for corruption” by the NPP government upon coming into office in 2001 seemed to have captured the imagination of Ghanaians at that time. By 2005 however, government’s anticorruption performance rating had dropped by 10 percentage points to 56 percent and remained almost at the same level (55 percent in 2008).

In 2005, over seventy percent of Ghanaians positively rated the performance of the NPP government in fighting crime, reflecting the fact that the security agencies had intensified their campaign against armed robbery; and in the first quarter of that year, the most wanted armed robber in Ghana (Atta Ayi) and many others were arrested. The performance of the NPP government is negatively rated in the following areas • keeping prices down (37 percent) and; • narrowing income gaps (35 percent)

Indeed, the NPP administration’s performance in these two policy areas has consistently been perceived by most Ghanaians to be bad, except in 2002. At the end of 2000, inflation was around 27 percent, but the new NPP government managed to reduce it to about 15 percent by 2002. A majority of Ghanaians (60 percent) rated the NPP’s government effort at controlling inflation positively in that year. After 2002, the public seemed unimpressed with the government’s efforts to reduce inflation. By 2005, only a minority (38 percent) of Ghanaians, representing a large and significant decline from 2002, felt government was doing well curbing price increases.

Income inequality was also a stubborn challenge for the NPP government. In no Afrobarometer survey has the government ever received majority approval from Ghanaians on efforts to narrow income gaps. The government’s worst performance rating occurred in 2005 when less than one third of Ghanaians (29 percent), said government was doing well in reducing income inequality. And by 2008, more than one-third (35 percent) felt this way.

POPULAR RATING OF THE PRESIDENT (J.K.KUFUOR) AND THE THEN RULING (NPP) PARTY Perhaps due to their generally positive perceptions of government’s achievements, most Ghanaians approve of EX President Kufuor. His job performance rating increased over time. Almost 8 in 10 Ghanaians (78 percent) approved of the performance of the President in March 2008, a 2 percentage point increase over 2005. Given the margin of sampling error in Afrobarometer surveys, however, we conclude that President Kufuor’s job approval rating has essentially held steady over the past three years.

Popular trust in the President and the ruling party (NPP) was also very high and has remained so over time. Overwhelming majorities of Ghanaians (88 percent) express trust in the President and in the ruling NPP (84 percent). These ratings are the highest since 2002.

Over time, trust in the President consistently increased, more rapidly so than for the ruling party: the President’s rating jumped 26 percentage points between 2002 and 2008 as against a 6 percentage point increase for the party over the same period. In fact, in 2002 and 2005, more Ghanaians expressed trust in the NPP than in the President. But this juxtaposition had changed in 2008, when more Ghanaians expressed trust in the President (88 percent) than in the ruling party (84 percent).

THE NPP’s ELECTORAL APPEAL: Notwithstanding the largely positive evaluations of President Kufuor and his administration, electoral support for the ruling New Patriotic Party has dropped from 52 percent in 2005 to 46 percent in 2006. Nevertheless, the NPP recorded a major lead in the partisan preferences of eligible Ghanaian voters when the survey was conducted.

When asked, “Which party would you vote for in 2012 if elections were held tomorrow?” the NPP recorded the highest share (46 percent), followed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) (23 percent). The Convention People’s Party (CPP) attracted just 3 percent of prospective voters and the People’s National Convention (PNC) just 1 percent.

CONCLUSION The NPP seems to be overall the government of choice for the majority of Ghanaians for the 2012 election. The Afrobarometer, a cross-national survey research project, is conducted collaboratively by social scientists from 20 African countries. Coordination is provided by the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa), and the Institute for Research in Empirical Political Economy (IREEP, Benin). Several donors support the Afrobarometer’s research, capacity building and outreach activities, including the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Department for International Development (UK), the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

GODWIN ADJEI-GYAMFI (lawtoptutors@hotmail.co.uk)