Ghana achieved Independence on 6th March, 1957. The political struggles that preceded this historic event date back over a hundred years.

The early period of nationalist struggle for political independence created political awareness and desire to assert the right of self-determination both for the individual and the State.

As far back as 1850, Ghana, then The Gold Coast, was given its own Legislative Council to advise the colonial Governor in enacting legislation mainly in the form of Ordinances “for the peace, order and good government of the subject.” The Legislative Council was purely advisory as the Governor exercised all legislative and executive powers.

In 1916 the Legislative Council was reconstituted to include nine nominated officials, six of whom were Africans, as opposed to eleven officials and the Governor. The first Legislative Council elections ever to be held took place in 1925 under the Guggisberg Constitution. Under this arrangement the Governor still retained complete control of legislation.

Under the 1946 Bums Constitution which replaced the Guggisberg Constitution, the representatives of the people formed the majority in the Legislative Council. The Governor ceased to be ex-officio President of the Legislative Council and an unofficial Member was appointed President. This system continued until 1951 when the Legislature elected its first Speaker under the 1950 Constitution.

In 1951 the first large-scale elections to the Legislative Assembly took place when 75 Members were elected. There were three nominated ex-officio Members and six special Members representing commercial and mining interests.

The 1954 transitional Constitution provided for an Assembly of a Speaker and 104 Members elected on party lines on the basis of universal adult suffrage.

In 1957, when Ghana achieved full political Independence the constitution was fashioned after the Westminster model. In June, 1960, ten women were elected by the National Assembly to fill specially created seats. This was done to expose women to parliamentary life. This system of election was not intended to be permanent. The Act made no provision for filling a vacancy caused by death, resignation or expulsion of a woman Member.

On 1st July, 1960 Ghana became a sovereign unitary Republic. In February, 1964 Ghana adopted a one-party system of Government. The First National Assembly of the Republic was , dissolved in 1965 and a general election in which all the 198 Members, all of them Members of the national party, the convention People”s Party (C.P.P.) were elected unopposed.The 1964 Constitutional Amendments among other things increased the powers and prerogatives of the President.

In February, 1966 the First Republican Government was overthrown by a military coup which installed a military government that remained in power up to September, 1969, when, on its own volition, it handed over power to another constitutionally elected government, and thereby restored parliamentary rule once again.

After only 22 months in office the second parliamentary democracy also succumbed to another military rule between January 1972 and October 1979, when under much political pressure, that military government was compelled to usher in the Third Republican parliamentary system. In December 1981 parliamentary democracy was once more thrown into cold storage as a result of yet another military coup. However, the country returned to constitutional rule again on 7th January, 1993.

The Composition of Parliament

The Legislative branch of the Ghanaian government passes bills which
assented to by the President, become the laws which protect the constitutional
rights of the citizens of Ghana. The elected body consists of “no less than
140 members.”5 A Member of Parliament must be a citizen of Ghana and
must have “attained the age of 21 years and be a registered voter.”6 Article
94 further states: “a Member of Parliament must hold current residence in
the area he or she represents or has lived in the area for at least 5 of the 10
years preceding his or her election.” All taxes must be paid.7
Criminal cases, bankruptcy, or other judicial issues can prevent a citizen from
becoming a Member of Parliament. Article 94 of the 1992 Constitution
outlines possible reasons for someone not being qualified to become a
Member of Parliament:
(1) A person shall not be qualified to be a Member of
Parliament if he:
(a) owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana; or
(b) has been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in Ghana.

Other provisions of the constitution outline possible reasons for the ineligibility of candidates for Parliament. If, for instance, a person is a member of “the Police Service, the Prisons Service, the Armed Forces, the Judicial Service, the Legal Service, the Civil Service, the Audit Service,” or any other service listed in Article 94 of the 1992 Constitution, he is ineligible to become a Member of Parliament.

It is very important to note that even after being elected, a Member of Parliament can lose his or her seat for a number of reasons. Such reasons include, but are not limited to: “if he is elected as Speaker of Parliament, if he is absent without the permission in writing of the Speaker, if he is expelled [after being] found guilty of contempt of Parliament, [or] if he leaves the party of which he was a member at the time of his election to join another party or seeks to remain as an independent.”

One of the most important clauses in Article 97 pertains to the act of
changing political parties following an election. Although this has not been
much of an issue now within Ghana as in the past, other countries have
suffered from such acts.

Currently, many parties exist within parliament,
including the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which is the majority
party, and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which is the minority party. Other
political parties within Parliament are the Convention People’s Party (CPP),
the People’s National Convention (PNC), and independent candidates.

The current Parliament of Ghana has 275 Seats.