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Ghana: Structural Adjustment, Democratization, and the Politics of Continuity

  • Kwame Boafo-Arthur
Abstract:

Following the collapse of the Communist bloc, it has virtually become conventional for developing countries to embark on the simultaneous pursuit of structural adjustment and democratization. Some countries such as Ghana started with adjustment for almost a decade before democratization. However, the joint pursuit of adjustment and democratization has engendered intense debate among academics and policy-makers. Given the “mechanisms” adopted by governments with the support of the World Bank and the IMF to impose adjustment policies on many developing countries prior to political liberalization, and given the underpinnings of democracy, some argue that the two processes are antithetical. The seemingly embedded determinism of the incompatibility thesis is challenged by the Ghanaian case study. The Ghanaian case demonstrates diat domestic sociopolitical dynamics may facilitate the pursuit of adjustment and democratization pari passu. These dynamics revolve around the general receptivity to adjustment by critical societal groups, the strength of associational groups, the absence of viable alternatives, and the continued support by the international donor community for adjustment.

Résumé:

Après la chute du bloc communiste, il est devenu quasiment conventionnel pour les pays en voie de développement d'entreprendre la poursuite simultanée de l'ajustement structurel et de la démocratisation. Quelques pays comme le Ghana ont débuté avec une politique d'ajustement durant presque une décennie avant leur démocratisation. Cependant, la recherche conjointe de l'ajustement et de la démocratisation a engendré des débats intenses parmi les universitaires et les responsables politiques. Étant donnés les ‘mécanismes’ adoptés par les gouvernements avec le soutien de la Banque Mondiale et du FMI afin d'imposer des politiques d'ajustement à un grand nombre de pays en voie de développement avant leur libéralisation politique, et étant donnés les fondements de la démocratie, certains affirment que ces deux processus sont antithétiques. Le déterminisme apparemment immuable de la thèse de l'incompatibilité est remis en question par l'étude du cas du Ghana. Le cas du Ghana démontre que les dynamiques socio-politiques nationales pourraient faciliter la poursuite de l'ajustement et de la démocratization à un même rythme. Ces dynamiques sont dépendantes de la réceptivité générale à l'ajustement par des groupes sociétaux critiques, la force des groupes associés, l'absence d'alternatives viables, et le soutien continu à l'ajustement par la communauté donatrice internationale.

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References
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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
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