Every registered voter in the world who exercises his or her franchise at the polls considers a lot of things before casting his or her votes. After 11 years of PNDC regime, a new chapter of constitutionality was restored in 1992. The 1992 constitution of Ghana, which gave birth to the fourth republican democracy which Ghanaians have enjoyed to date in article 45, mandates the Electoral Commission of Ghana to periodically organise free and fair elections to elect a President to govern the country within a four-year term.
Since 1992, the country has seen two political parties namely the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) dominating parliamentary seats and also won presidential power to occupy the Jubilee House (Seat of Government) whereas other political parties like the Convention People’s Party (CPP), People’s National Convention (PNC) among others continues to weaken in terms of votes at the end of every general election in Ghana. Both NDC and NPP have enjoyed the lion’s share of votes cast and the ants’ portion have gone to the other political parties and independent candidates making the country be on the path of polarisation.
In exploring why NDC and NPP have dominated the country’s parliamentary and presidential elections, a critical look at the mindset of a registered Ghanaian voter won’t be misplaced at all.
According to M. Freeden (2001), political ideologies are sets of ideas, beliefs, values, and opinions, exhibiting a recurring pattern, that compete deliberately as well as unintentionally over providing plans of action for public policy making in an attempt to justify, explain, contest, or change the social and political arrangements and processes of a political community. Political Parties are usually formed on ideologies or styles and they tend to govern with these ideologies when they win power. In Ghana, CPP, PNC, GCPP and PPP are ideologically socialist, the NDC also are social democrats and the NPP are capitalist oriented. The Ghanaian registered voter ordinarily sides with these political ideologies they believe in and cast their vote for them on Election Day, hoping their political ideologies become victors. The irony of these two main parties namely NDC and NPP are that most of their major policies tend to contradict their ideologies. For instance, capitalist oriented NPP introduced social policies like free maternal care, national health insurance scheme, school feeding, free Senior High School among others whereas social democrats like NDC have fewer social policies like free uniforms and shoes for basic schools, removing schools under trees.
The two major political parties namely NPP and NDC, who have won all conducted elections under the fourth republic, have had their political strength on ethnic lines. Previous election results show that the NPP garners its strong base around the Akans dominated areas such as the Ashanti Region and the Eastern Region whereas the NDC also enjoys massive support from Ewe speaking Voltarians and the Northerners in Ghana. Even though not all other the aforementioned tribes, vote in a one-sided direction, majority of them throw their support in that way. The reason accounting for this ethnic support is as a result of the founding fathers or leaders of those parties. Results of previous elections continue to confirm this voting patterning and the mindset of the Ghanaian registered voter.
Who is the better manager of the economy is one other debate which is not going to end today so far as democracy is concerned in Ghana. The ruling NPP prides itself on having the competent men with undisputable knowledge to manage a developing country like Ghana whilst the NDC believes they have qualified men who do not make noise about their competence like what NPP does. Though the data from Ghana Statistical Service and Bank of Ghana will show who is better of the two when they are in government, propaganda won’t allow such finality to this arguable debate. Notwithstanding, the Ghanaian registered voter who is a business person won’t be interested in this debate but rather be interested in whether his or her business is flourishing under a regime or not. Such individuals look at the currency exchange rates, interest rates and the likes before they decide who to vote for. The bread and butter issues are their utmost indicators because that put food on their tables. That is why though the political parties know they will get votes in their stronghold they are not oblivious of the fact that these sections of the populace care about the economy thus they pay attention to how to solve economic issues in their manifestos.
Electricity stability and access, road constructions and public toilets, drainage systems and health centres play a pivotal role in the mind of a Ghanaian registered voter. This group of registered voters votes on what a political party has done in his or her community. To such voters, there’s a sense of security in knowing that you can easily access the services of a doctor or a pharmacist if an emergency arises. They expect to see social amenities specifically in areas that have been provided with convenient access to these types of facilities and so that residents have or can have access to everything they need. Now, among the two major political parties namely NDC and NPP, there is a debate on who has done more in that area of social amenities, and this is happening because the political parties know that, it can shape the mindset of a Ghanaian registered voter on who is doing more and who is winning their votes at the polls.
By: Kwesi E. Ghansah, Development Communication Expert.