A functional analysis of Ghanaian presidential debates
Keywords:Acclaim, Attack, character, Defence, Policy, Ghanaian Presidential debate
Scholars of the functional theory of campaign discourse have explored the nature of political campaign discourse, particularly presidential campaign discourse. This paper adds to the exploration and the data by analysing Ghanaian presidential debates using Benoit’s functional theory. The analysis reveals that the presidential candidates acclaimed more than they attacked and defended. Two additional functional categories – appeal and recommendation – are identified. Contrary to the assumptions of the functional theory that incumbents acclaim more than challengers, the paper finds that challengers acclaimed more than the incumbent, and that the candidates discussed more future plans/deliberative rhetoric. The study concludes that even though most of the assumptions of the theory were confirmed, there are additional persuasive strategies of presidential candidates in Ghanaian political debates such as appeal and recommendation. Thus, the study recommends that further studies extend the theory to accommodate the discourse strategies in multi-candidate campaigns since the theory emerged from several studies of two-candidate campaigns in the United States.