The two leading political parties that have positioned themselves as constant fixtures in national elections since 1992— the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the New Patriotic Party, (NPP), have successfully elected their flag bearers for the 2024 general election.
In both parties, the processes leading to the main day contest were fraught with accusations and allegations of manipulations in favour of the eventual victors in both instances. But the events on the days of their contest were judged free and fair. Yes, it happened because a pregnant goat has never given birth to a dog.
The saying that the end justifies the means is enough to ‘deceive’ the winners that they have the true mandate of their delegates to be sponsored by their respective political parties to run for office in 2024. As leading political parties that are championing democracy in Ghana, can leadership proudly join Juan Linz, and Alfred Stepan to say that behaviourally in their parties, democracy has become the only game in town? They may tickle themselves and laugh so long as the system favours them.
However, the University of Oxford political scientist, Nancy Bermeo’s well-cited work on democratic backsliding comes to mind. Nancy concludes that election-day vote fraud, which takes the form of ballot stuffing, multiple voting, and deliberate tabulation of wrong results, is gradually being replaced by long-term strategic harassment and manipulation. Here, the powerful actors use tactics such as gerrymandering or technology to disenfranchise voters, they may also choose to change the electoral rules in ways that favour the preferred candidates, among other things. Is it not possible that some objective observers saw some of these things in the presidential primaries in both the NDC and the NPP?
Mahama vs Bawumia
All things being equal, former President John Dramani Mahama will lock horns with Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, in what some have minimally described as a contest between Tamale Senior High School (Tamasco), and Ghana Senior High School (Ghanasco), both based in the northern regional capital, Tamale.
Admittedly, other political parties are yet to elect their flag bearers. When that is eventually done, the Electoral Commission (EC) will decide whether these elected flag bearers, all meet the criteria to become presidential candidates.
But it would not be out of place to assume rationally that the fixtures are out, and the issues that will inform the voices of the electorate are the next priorities. Positioning these issues in their proper context will be key ahead of the 2024 general election; some minors, others majors.
In theory, minor issues may not be sufficient to determine the outcome of any major elections, although no one rules out their minimal effect. In practice, however, minor issues in developing democracies could play substantial roles in electoral outcomes in view of illiteracy and other factors. That explains the difficulty one may have in wanting to totally rubbish minor issues such as height, place of birth, religious sect, and past or present relationship issues, etc, that have begun spreading on social media by activists of the two political parties.
In a dynamic world, how one’s past as President or Vice-President incapacitates him from thinking of doing things differently in the future remains a mystery, yet our air space is full of such minor issues. But that is a healthy minor that should not be discouraged entirely.
Major issues such as clearly defined strategies for fixing the current mess in areas such as our pre-tertiary schools which are in tatters, the health system which is losing experienced professionals on a daily basis, the anaemic economy which is not self-sustaining, etc, must be key issues worthy of discourse because when addressed, we all stand to enjoy, irrespective of who is in office. For instance, why would one’s religion or past matter when the person is able to fix the perennial problem of living wages, corruption and insecurity, among other things?
There are issues that are real and determine the choices of some voters and yet should not be encouraged in public discourse because they are toxic. Such, are the real minors in politics in Ghana. Some people have chosen not to marry outside their tribes, regions, religions, or even sects within the same religions but such are gradually being overshadowed by the loud voices of civilisation. Why should ethnicity, tribalism, regionalism, or religion be the red line when it comes to choosing someone as the President of the country?
Let us admit that we are at the crossroads. The crossroads of leaving behind the deceitful notion of superior and inferior Ghanaians based on biological or nurtured factors, including affinity and kinship; collateral or consanguineal. We are Ghanaians; one people with a common interest, which is to have a peaceful and economically prosperous country where there is a rule of law and not strongmen. The crossroads to attaining a largely sustainable self-dependent and reliable economy even in the midst of globalisation.
The writer is a lecturer, Department of Political Science Education, University of Education, Winneba
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