Even though the study indicated that the two leading political parties in Ghana, the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party, enjoy specific social support base, this has not led to competing economic policies for the people.
Dr. Kwesi Jonah, Head of the Political Science Department, University of Ghana, made the assertions during a public forum, organized by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, in Accra.
The three-day event scheduled for 27 to 29 June, 2011, is on the theme: “Elections and the Democratic Challenges in Africa”
Dr. Jonah who spoke on: “Elections and Democracy: A Critical Review”, said more Ghanaian electorate have expressed confidence in the Electoral Commission’s management of elections, which was essential for the transition and consolidation of democracy in Ghana.
He said through the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), election disputes in Ghana were able to secure elite accommodation and consensus for the consolidation of democracy.
Dr. Jonah explained that since November 1992, Ghana has conducted regular elections without any disruptions, and the process has steadily evolved to become the only legitimate means of transferring power or renewing mandate.
He said elections have generated institutional changes, becoming invaluable to the process of consolidating liberal democracy in Ghana.
Dr. Jonah emphasized that democratic elections have made governments over the years more responsive to the needs of the people as they compete to bring more social development to the majority of the people such as schools, hospitals, potable and electricity.
He said every election has constituted an improvement over the preceding one because of the creation of election consensus institution in the form of IPAC.
Dr. Jonah said elections in Ghana since 1992 have generated the interest of a large body of international and domestic observers.
“Every election year not less than one dozen international observer groups fly into the country to contribute to Ghana’s democracy building effort in particular the African Union, Economic Community of West African States, European Union Observer Mission, Carter Centre, USAID and British High Commission” he said.
Professor Raymond N. Osei, a lecturer at the Department of Classics and Philosophy, who spoke on: “Political Education of the Electorate: Current challenges”, called for political education of the electorate as a desirable prelude to Election 2012.
He tasked the Electoral Commission, National Commission for Civic Education and Commission for Human Right and Administrative Justice, to educate the people on their rights and responsibilities as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.
Prof. Osei noted that Ghana’s electoral process was not all that complicated adding that even illiterate members of the society were generally able to easily exercise their franchise.
He said: “What one cannot guarantee, however, is whether the general public is sufficiently educated to be able to make informed choices regarding the programmes that the political parties advertise in their manifestos and public debates”.
Prof. Osei said to improve upon governance and public accountability, the parties should be made to cast their programmes in unambiguous language and be given wide publicity, especially in the print media in order to reduce the temptation of denials.
He charged the parties competing for political power to communicate to the electorate what separate them from other parties.
Prof. Osei said in the absence of clear differences in programmes, the electorate is left with no option but to make choices on the basis of emotions, which is not healthy for good governance.
He appealed to civil societies and human rights organizations to intervene in the public spaces, to help call the political parties to order and also expose miscreants, who go contrary to the rules of the games.