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42% of Ghanaians aware of December referendum – Afrobarometer study reveals

Ghana is scheduled to hold a referendum on December 17, 2019 on whether local government elections should be made partisan or otherwise, but more than half of Ghanaians say they are not aware of the exercise.

“Fewer than half (42%) of Ghanaians are aware of the December 2019 referendum on whether local government elections should be made partisan or remain non-partisan,” the new Afrobarometer study said.

According to the report, though the majority of those interviewed in the survey say they will vote, as much as 51% say they are not aware of the upcoming referendum.

The impending referendum to be held on December 17, 2019, is an exercise that the nation is going through to answer the “Yes” or “No” question as to whether the law should be changed to enable MMDCEs to be elected on partisan lines or not.

“Men, the highly educated, and elderly citizens are more aware of the referendum than women, citizens with less schooling, and young adults.

“Although a slim majority of those who are aware of the referendum find the Electoral Commission’s preparations for the referendum to be satisfactory, very few say there has been a lot of education about the voting exercise. The survey also shows that a significant proportion of Ghanaians are either not likely to vote in the referendum or “don’t know” whether or not they will vote.

“The referendum seeks the opinion of Ghanaians as to whether local government elections should be open to partisan political competition. The Constitution requires a minimum 40% voter turnout for the referendum to be valid. But there is a risk of low voter turnout for this referendum, since it will be conducted together with local government elections, which historically attract less than 40% of registered voters,” a summary of the study said.

Below are the key findings:

Awareness increases with respondents’ level of education, reaching 62% among those with post-secondary education, compared to 35%-42% among those with less schooling. Men (52%) are more likely to be aware of the referendum than women (32%). Awareness increases with age, ranging from 40% of youth to 47% of those over age 55.

Among those who are aware of the election: o More than half (54%) say the Electoral Commission’s preparations have been satisfactory. o Only 18% say there has been a lot of education about the referendum.

Six in 10 Ghanaians (58%) say they are likely to vote in the December 2019 referendum (Figure 5). A significant minority are either not likely to vote (29%) or say they “don’t know.” Afrobarometer surveys Afrobarometer heads a pan-African, nonpartisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues across Africa. Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018. Round 8 surveys in 2019/2020 are planned in at least 35 countries. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples.

The Afrobarometer team in Ghana, led by the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), interviewed 2,400 adult Ghanaians between 16 September and 3 October 2019. A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. Previous surveys were conducted in Ghana in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2017.

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