The Generation of Trust in Political Parties in Ghana

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The level of political trust in a country is an important factor for the survival of its political system. Many democratic states have experienced declines in political trust. In Ghana, lack of trust in opposition parties and many public institutions is widespread. Ghanaians trust religious organizations and traditional authorities more than political parties and state institutions; it is, however, political parties that govern and implement public policy. So, what generates trust in Ghanaian parties and political trust more broadly? This article draws on ethnographic data and Afrobarometer survey data to answer this question. We argue that political trust in Ghana is strongly linked to a high degree of party loyalty and political partisanship, and therefore trust largely follows party affiliation. At the same time, factors such as economic performance in government and internal politics and fractions influence the generation of trust. Our analysis shows that political trust in Ghana largely reflects party loyalty but is influenced by a democratic ethos relating to government performance vis-à-vis citizens and internal party politics. This means that the understanding of political trust in Ghana (and elsewhere) must take into consideration the particular histories of political parties, as well as their relationship to power and control of public institutions, and not focus solely on government performance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAfrica Today
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)81-100
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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