Political scientist says Ghana needs vibrant political parties
Dr Ziblim Iddi, a Lecturer at the Political Science Department, University of Ghana, on Tuesday asked political parties to be active and vibrant, to give meaning to the special role reserved for parties under the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
He said the current situation in which some political parties submerge after General Elections only to resurface during another polls is unacceptable because it undermine the electoral process.
Dr Iddi was speaking at 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, which started from 27 to 29 June, 2011, is on the theme: “Elections and the Democratic Challenges in Africa”.
Dr Iddi who spoke on “Towards an Improve Role: Critical Review of Political Parties’ Role in the Electoral Process”.
He said “if the country is to progress with the serious business of nation building and consolidation of the democratic dispensation, then the people should not entertain seasonal political parties that do not seem to appreciate the awesome responsibilities of a political party in national agenda.”
Dr. Iddi said major deficits in the political party system in Ghana were the lack of clear ideologies, policies and programmes of political parties when they assume power.
He said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP), the main parties in Ghana, which have been in government since 1993, have both greatly been influenced by prevailing dominant view of the international economic order.
Dr. Iddi said the orientation of the Breton Woods institutions and other donor partners have influenced the policy direction of various governments rather than their ideologies espoused during electioneering.
He said: “When political parties fail to clearly articulate alternative ideological approach to delivering public goods, the electorate are left with no option than to resort to ethnic, regional, and other sectional considerations in deciding who to vote for”.
Dr. Iddi called on political parties to mature from just being mere vote-gathering machines to the serious business of shaping the political will of the people.
He said so far, the parties have failed in their obligation as instruments of change through political education and advocacy on serious socio-economic programmes for national development.
Dr. Iddi advocated the formation of smaller parties and pulling of their resources for effective organization and participation in the electoral process.
He said the law on political party’s code of conduct should be revised to address new trends in the country’s electoral process.
Dr. Iddi suggested that the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) should be elevated to a statutory body and its decisions supported by all parties and binding on the Electoral Commission (EC).
Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive of Director of Institute of Democratic Governance, who spoke on: “Critical Review of EC’s Role in the Electoral Process”, advocated a new succession plan to ensure smooth transition at the Commission after Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the EC, leaves office.
He said such a plan should be open and transparent to inspire the confident of the people in the EC.
Dr. Iddi asked the EC to enforce its powers under the 1992 Constitution to ensure compliance by the various political parties because the IPAC system is not more effective.
He said following examples from the 2008 elections, it is clear that both the NDC and the NPP would want to keep to their plans rather than comply with the IPAC decisions.
Dr. Iddi asked the EC to strengthen its regulatory framework, to ensure that political parties operate within the law and not just to exist as election machines.