The establishment is crumbling: How Nana Akufo-Addo is the latest beneficiary of a global movement

In the end, it wasn’t even close. Elections in Ghana are usually closely contested affairs, but the margin of victory for Nana Akufo-Addo leaves no one in any doubt about the direction the country wants to go in.

For all Mahama’s likeability and late media blitz, commissioning projects left and right, voters had clearly made up their minds a lot time ago. The poor economy, rising corruption and persistent blackouts had sealed his fate.

Ghanaians voted for change, and as such, Nana Akufo-Addo becomes the latest beneficiary of the anti-establishment tide sweeping the world, turning over incumbents everywhere.

We are still coming to terms with the implications of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump in the US. Both events will have far reaching effects on every continent. There was also the election of Muhammadu Buhari, who became the first man to unseat an incumbent through the ballot box in Nigerian history. Just last week, the end also came for Yahya Jammeh of Gambia who has ruled for 22 years. He lost to Adama Barrow.

These events displayed a fundamental dissatisfaction with the status quo, one amplified by social media, and the successful candidates in political contests have understood how to tap into that feeling and ride it to victory.

It is third time lucky for Nana, who was defeated in 2008 and,controversially, in 2012. In 2008, he was trying to continue eight years of NPP rule, and in 2012, the resulting litigation at the Supreme Court took eight months and a 5-4 vote to resolve.

On this occasion, Nana provided an alternative, the right message at the right time. Ghana has drifted from its path of steady creation of wealth and employment for its people. Their economic progress has been rolled back since the fall in commodity prices, but also as a result of the less than stellar economic management of the Mahama administration, which has led Ghana to the brink of another debt crisis.

The people have not seen an improvement in their lives over the past four years, and have spoken with their votes. Cost of living is high, and jobs have dried up. Like the Bill Clinton campaign said in 1992: ‘It’s the economy, stupid’.

There will be little time for Akufo-Addo and the NPP to savour their victory. One of the major campaign promises is a factory in every district, to accelerate Ghana’s industrialisation. There is also the need to move the country away from reliance on commodities like gold and oil, and rein in public expenditure that has gotten out of control.

Ghana continues its record of changing power between the two major parties every eight years. The NDC held power from 1992 to 2000, then the NPP from 2000 to 2008, and the NDC again from 2008 to now.

The NPP have secured victory with a margin not seen since Jerry Rawlings won in 1992 and 1996. It is a mandate that will give the incoming government the full confidence to pursue the reforms necessary to get Ghana on the right path again.

It is a chance they must take.

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