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Ghana elections: The last bet on social media for votes as campaign ends

Official campaign activities ended yesterday Wednesday December 5, 2012 as Ghana rounds up for its December 7 elections. And all TV, radio and newspaper campaign adverts have been banned.

But it appears some supporters of the two main political parties – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have put their last sweat in social media for the last man’s vote.

All campaign messages (video, audio, written and pictures) have all been brought to some popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and even photo sharing website, Instagram.

The messages range from profiles and achievements of the presidential candidates to propaganda texts seen on Facebook and Twitter all in the name of convincing individuals on those platforms to vote for their presidential aspirants.

Since the beginning of the Fourth Republic, Ghana’s presidential elections from 1992 has always been a two horse-race between the NDC and the NPP, and this year’s is not an exception even though the other parties sometimes have some influence on the outcome of the elections. This year’s is between incumbent President John Mahama of the NDC and the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo who stood in the 2008 polls but was beaten by the Late Prof John Atta Mills of the NDC.

Social media has been used in this year’s elections because many persons (both at work or home) are hooked to one of the social media platforms.

Less than 24 hours for the polls to start, the trend on Twitter and Facebook has been on the elections with some party faithfuls and activists saying things to woo votes.

“Vote Nana”, “JDM all the way” are some of the things being said on Facebook and Twitter.

YouTube is not left out. Indeed the NPP and the NDC as well as Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom’s Progressive People’s Party (PPP) have been consistent in spreading their campaign messages across the medium. The move was first observed to have been used by Dr Nduom. He even granted interviews with Citi FM, a radio station based in Accra using Google+, a social media platform provided by Google.

The social media population in Ghana is believed to be increasing by day and since about 14 million persons are expected to cast their ballots tomorrow, the political parties are bent on securing some ‘floating voters’ within the social media population.

Meanwhile, a Social Media Tracking Centre (SMTC) to monitor the use of social media during Ghana’s 2012 elections has begun. The  centre is managed by the Penplusbytes, under its African Election Project (AEP).

The SMTC will provide a real time response mechanism on election irregularities, violence and other concerns by reaching out to key election stakeholders for immediate action.

Penplusbytes in partnership with key partners like the Georgia Institute of Technology, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and EnoughisEnough (EiE) Nigeria, with support from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), is implementing the project.

As to whether social media can influence the voting pattern, only facts which will be hard to get can tell.

Observers, both local and international, for the Ghana elections are confident that the country will once again show the world the true meaning of democracy after the polls are over and a winner is announced within 72 hours.

By Ekow Quandzie

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