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How are Members of Parliament elected In Ghana?

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Ghana’s Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected every four years – on December 7, the same day as the Presidential elections – to represent citizens living in a designated area called a constituency. The division of regions of the country into constituencies is overseen by the Electoral Commission and according to the laws of the land, cannot be done within less than seven years. 

Since the inception of the fourth republic in 1993, the number of constituencies in the country have been reviewed twice. 

Year19921996200020042008201220162020
Number of Constituencies200199200230230275275275

Source: Electoral Commission; Africa Elections Database (In the 1996 election, 200 seats were contested for, however; elections for one seat in the Ashanti region was postponed and a by-election was held in 1997 to determine the winner of the seat).

MPs will be elected from 275 constituencies in this year’s general elections as indicated in the 2019 list of districts and constituencies.

To qualify to partake in these elections,  an individual must go through the following processes:

Step 1: Parliamentary Primary Elections

For an individual to qualify to run for a parliamentary seat, he or she must, among others (pg 159 to 161),

  • be a citizen of Ghana, has attained the age of twenty-one years, and is a registered voter;
  • be a resident in the constituency for which he stands as a candidate for election to Parliament, or has resided there, for a total period of not less than five years out of the ten years immediately preceding the election for which he stands, or he hails from that constituency;
  • have paid all his taxes or made arrangements satisfactory to the appropriate authority, for the payment of his taxes;
  • Not owe allegiance to another country other than Ghana;
  • Not have been declared bankrupt;
  • Must be of sound mind or not have been  detained as a criminal lunatic under any law in force in Ghana; 

After meeting the above requirements, the individual can nominate him/herself or be nominated by others by picking nomination forms made available by the Electoral Commission. 

Nomination forms are then completed and submitted to the returning officer.

For the nomination forms to be considered valid, the nomination form must satisfy the following requirements;

“(a) witnessed by the signature, or mark of two electors as proposer and seconder, and supported by eighteen other electors, as assenting to the nomination; and

 (b) endorsed with the candidate’s consent, to nomination”.

A candidate cannot represent more than one constituency nor can a person nominate more than one candidate for election.

Primaries, where parliamentary candidate aspirants are elected, are then conducted by all political parties who have multiple individuals interested in representing the party in the major elections. This process is done to ensure internal party democracy, openness, and transparency(Daddieh & Bob-Milliar, 2012). 

At the time of their nomination,  parliamentary candidates are expected to make statutory declarations deposits as determined by the Electoral Commission (EC). 

In the case of a nominee going unopposed by the time of expiry of the time allowed for delivering nomination, and a day before the election, the candidate will be declared elected.

Step 2: Election Day

MPs are elected on the same day presidents are elected. They have the same term or length of stay as an elected president has, four years, after which they have the option to repeat the process again in order to be re-elected or otherwise.

After votes are cast on election day in the various constituencies, results are tabulated and declared by the presiding officers at each polling station and then communicated to the returning officer in every district as appointed by the Electoral Commission. See page 149 of C.I. 15.

A candidate is declared elected when he/she has the most valid votes cast in their name.

Should there be an equality vote (a tie) between candidates, a second election will be held within 30 days of receipt of an endorsed writ by the EC as indicated on page 151 clause 40(2) of the C. I. 15. The winner will be declared based on the number of valid votes cast for each individual.

Unlike the presidential elections where the C.I.15 (page 152) clearly states that a candidate who receives more than 50% of the votes is declared winner, the parliamentary elections are different. The candidate to whom the most votes have been given wins the parliamentary elections.

For more information, see chapter 55 of The Public Elections Regulation, 1996 (C.I.15) which provides a detailed description of requirements, directives and regulations for general elections in Ghana. 

Roselena Ahiable is a Senior Researcher with Dubawa Ghana. Roselena has years of demonstrated work experience in advertising, sales and marketing, having worked with some of the leading brands in Ghana. She has completed a Master of Philosophy programme in Communication Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, with specialisation in Public Relations and Advertising. She has also received advanced training in print and broadcast journalism. Roselena also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Theatre Arts from the University of Ghana. As a trained journalist with interest in research, Roselena provides the team insight in news and media trend analysis.

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