The sophisticated Ghanaian voter and the 2020 election

Kumasi, Jan 01, GNA - The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) have won the 2020 election, but any true party member would not deny the fact that the party performed far below expectation.







Indeed, some leading members of the party have publicly admitted that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) gave them a good run for their money.

Background

Prior to the 2020 election, the NPP was convinced that it would repeat the humiliating defeat it handed the then ruling NDC in 2016 on the back of a remarkable first term performance, which gave Ghanaians hope for a better future.

Having redeemed most of its key election promises and also implemented other initiatives outside the 2016 manifesto, the NPP was certain that Ghanaians would reward the party by giving them a resounding victory.

“If we could embarrass them in such a manner in opposition then there is no way for the NDC this time after all the good policies introduced by this government, which are transforming many lives”, a leading member of the NPP said on a political programme on television weeks to the election.

Confidence

Such was the level of confidence that the party had going into the election, but the results obviously did not represent an overwhelming victory for the NPP as witnessed in 2016.

Not only did the party drop substantial votes in the Presidential results, but also gave away a parliamentary majority with a deficit of 63 seats against the NDC.

Sophistication

This points to a certain direction that the Ghanaian voter has become sophisticated after practising multi-party democracy for 28 years under the fourth Republic.

Gone are the days when voting patterns could easily be predicted based on the performance of a particular government, which were largely anchored on vote buying initiatives especially in election years.

In the early years of Ghana’s return to constitutional rule, voters could be influenced with salt, maggi cube and other basic items by politicians especially in rural communities, but the present generation of voters are too smart for politicians to manipulate.

This was evident in the just-ended election which produced so many surprises as some prominent Members of Parliaments (MPs) shockingly lost their seats for reasons they are yet to come to terms with.

People are now looking at development in a holistic manner in terms of how it affects their daily lives and the opportunities that policies of government offer them and the future generations to inform their decisions on which party to vote for.

They are more concerned about how their pressing needs at the local level would be addressed through their representatives in parliament irrespective of which party they belong to.

Issues and policies

Although there are some party fanatics who religiously believe in the traditions of the two major political parties and would not vote against them for any reason, the votes of some of them are determined by issues and policies thereby changing the dynamics of elections in the country.

It is no more business as usual for politicians to take voters for granted by influencing their votes with last minute freebies without tackling challenges that are in the benefit of the larger community.

As has been proven in the last few elections, electorate in Ghana continue to make a strong case for reforms in the political landscape by showing non-performing governments and parliamentarians the exit when necessary.

Scenarios

Results in certain constituencies in this year’s election speak volumes of the need for adequate consultation with the people in the execution of projects to avert the numerous cases of misplaced priorities.

It is worth noting that some projects may transform the local economy of a particular constituency, but getting the people to appreciate the value of the project goes beyond just establishing them.

Who would have thought the NPP could lose the Ekumfi Constituency ahead of the 2020 election after the establishment of the Ekumfi Juice Factory under the One District One Factory (1D1F) Policy of the current administration.

The least the people of Ekumfi could have done was to show appreciation to the NPP Government as arguably the biggest beneficiaries of the 1D1F initiative, but they cared less and gave the seat back to the NDC.

This is a seat the NPP had never won until 2016 so the expectation was that the huge investment in the factory was going to make Ekumfi the fortress of the NPP, but the people obviously thought otherwise.

There is also the phenomenon, where a lot of the constituencies voted for the presidential candidates of both the NPP and NDC, but rejected the Parliamentary candidates-a clear indication that people do not vote solely on party affiliation, but the strength of the candidates.

A case in point is what happened in the Central Region, where the people endorsed the second term bid of the President, but booted out most of his parliamentarians, leaving Ghana’s parliament almost split for the first time under the fourth Republic.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, the 2020 election has taught both political parties a lot of lessons which would trigger changes in their approach for future elections especially the imposition of candidates on the electorate.

They may also consider committing more resources to their research departments to study the behavior and concerns of the electorate to be able to come out with programmes and policies that are responsive to their needs.

As Ghana continues to play the leading role in advancing multi-party democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Ghanaian voter is becoming more difficult to predict and it is the interest of politicians to accept this fact and develop effective strategies to improve their electoral fortunes in future elections.
GNA