REPRESENTATIVES of various political parties from eight countries in the sub-region are meeting for the first time in Accra for a two-day conference.
The conference, which is aimed at looking at the link between democracy and development, has the theme "Political parties and democratic consolidation in West Africa."
Opening it yesterday, Vice President Aliu Mahama said, the lack of internal democracy in political parties was a major blow to both democratic governance and party politics in West Africa.
He said the situation where "some invisible financiers of the parties, who call the shots hijack the formal structures of decision-making," was not good at all since it hampered the progress of democracy.
"Needless to say, it is the financial weakness of the parties and the absence of a credible regime of public funding that is largely accountable for this situation.
"Even more harmful to the cause of national integration and cohesion is the tendency of parties to be based on particular regions and ethnic groups. Election results have therefore frequently mirrored these cracks in our body-politics," he said.
Alhaji Mahama said: "There is also the nagging problem of the multiplicity and proliferation of many small parties which are unable to join forces to create a formidable political force."
"By far, the single most serious shortcoming of our political parties is the lack of ideology or clearly articulated political philosophy."
The Vice President said since political parties " are the foundation upon which multi-party democracy everywhere is built," every effort should be made to ensure the growth of political parties.
He commended the organizers of the conference, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) of Ghana and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy "for shattering the walls of isolation that has characterized our party politics."
Dr Charles Mensa, Executive Director, was happy that the willingness of political leaders in West Africa was gradually erasing the sub-region's negative image of political instability.
He said the IEA would continue to promote virtues like trust and friendship among political parties, freedom of expression and a free market economy in West Africa.