Demons of Transitional Democracies: Politics of Insults and Acrimony in Ghana

Kwame Asamoah, Emmanuel Yeboah-Assiamah, Alex Osei-Kojo

Abstract


There is a general perception that Ghana has achieved remarkable success in democratic consolidation by conducting six general elections in the Fourth Republic without widespread violence since 1992. Yet, the kind of tensions and acrimony that surround her elections are issues that cannot be glossed over. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana paved the way for free speech and expression, which has been strengthened by the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law. Most political actors tend to abuse the freedom of speech enshrined in the Constitution by using abusive words and insulting their political opponents especially on the airwaves and during political campaigns. The persistent use of intemperate language affects the quality of policy discourse and also creates tension at every election year. Faced with the use of indecorous language at every election year, a common feature of elections in Ghana is the numerous appeals for peace from all sections of society. The use of indecent words by political actors thus poses a serious threat to Ghana’s democratic dispensation as it can escalate into serious conflict with social, political and economic ramifications. This article examines how the use of indecent language can be detrimental to the developmental agenda of the country. The paper adopts content analysis to examine some of the statements by some key stakeholders during the 2012 general elections. A major finding of the study is that there is excessive use of abusive words on airwaves and political campaigns. Another finding of the study is that election periods in Ghana is characterized by clarion calls for peace and calming down tensions. The article recommends that key political actors must set practical leadership example, for their supporters to emulate by using decorous words before, during and after each election.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jsss.v1i1.4725

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Journal of Social Science Studies ISSN 2329-9150

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