United Kingdom-based research and data firm, Fitch Solution is predicting electoral victory for National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer John Mahama in the December 7 presidential election.
Fitch in its latest publication on election and risk-related issues in Africa said the current state of the economy will play a significant role in the choice of voters in December.
In a webinar to announce the outcome of its latest research, Senior Sub-Saharan Africa Country Risk Analyst Mike Kruiniger said their finding put the largest opposition party candidate ahead of Vice President and NPP flagbearer Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.
Kruiniger emphasized their anticipation of policy continuity prevailing in the region, with most incumbents expected to secure victories and retain their majorities.
Despite this overarching trend, the research forecasted significant changes in key markets, specifically highlighting South Africa and Ghana.
“In Ghana likewise, we believe anger over living standards is giving opposition candidate John Mahama a lead in the polls. This marks a shift away from the incumbent’s preferred successor, that being current Vice President Bawumia.
“So again, although we do expect policy continuity to prevail, some important changes will occur and we’ll be monitoring these closely,” he said.
In response to the challenges faced by the NPP, Mike Kruiniger stated that despite the government’s confirmation of its commitment to implementing fiscal reforms in the 2024 budget, they anticipate significant public expenditure overruns ahead of the December election, particularly given that the NPP trails behind in the polls.
“So since the start of the century, public expenditure as a share of GDP increased by an average of three percentage points during election years. And I think that reflects the government’s tendency – for example, subsidize utilities or implement social welfare programs, really to garner public support in the run-up to general elections.
“So while these expected expenditure overruns will lead to a widening of the budget deficit in 2024, it will also support households financially, so driving up domestic demand that way and also supporting headline economic growth,” he said.
Commenting on the likely winner of the December general elections, Mike Kruiniger emphasized that their core view maintains the opposition NDC is best positioned to secure a victory.
He explained that a closer examination of polling data suggests that the economy and economic management will be central issues for voters during the election.
This, he said is expected to provide the NDC with an advantage, considering that the recent economic downturn occurred under NPP leadership.
“In addition to that, recent polls around voting intentions give John Mahama, the leader of the NDC, a favorable lead. So for further supporting our view that the NDC victory is most likely in December,” he said.
But despite the prediction of electoral victory for the NDC, Fitch is warning of potential instability in the sub-region due to activities of insurgence operating in Burkina Faso and Mali.
“So as a little bit of context, over the past ten years, these Sahelian countries have become the global flashpoint for Islamic insurgencies and this presents clear risks for neighboring countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin.
“Now, we believe these risks will be compounded by the removal of UN peacekeeping forces from Mali in 2024, which is likely to create a power vacuum in the region, which we believe militant groups are likely to compete for and fill, creating clear spillover effects and negatively impacting some of the region’s fastest-growing countries, like, for example, Cote d’Ivoire or Ghana.
“So overall, we believe that West Africa will be an important monitoring point for security risks in 2024,” the Senior Sub-Saharan Africa Country Risk Analyst for Fitch Solutions, Mike Kruiniger said.