Lessons from the 2020 General Elections
The 2020 Parliamentary and Presidential elections held throughout the country have yet presented surprises to many people. The factors that caused such a vast surprise are determinable without in-depth political knowledge, as such factors can be obtained by common sense instincts. It is typical of a President, seeking re-election, to lose votes in the election for his or her second term. In fact, the same conclusion will be arrived at if the electoral figures past elections are studied, with exception to the NDC as a party; the votes of the party increased from over 40,000 to over 320,0000 (2008 and 2012). It is usual for the incumbent to lose some votes in his re-election bid.
The 2020 general elections are very unique due to the closeness in the contest for the parliamentary seats. The performance of the two major political parties, in parliamentary elections, has been undulating. Data from the previous elections of the country gives indication of an increase in the number of seats of the winning party. Yet the 2020 general elections show a deviated pattern from the previous elections. It does indicate a better-informed voter population: the level of political participation by the populace has increased as the citizens have accumulated enough political knowledge, to be able to form proper attitudes towards their political leadership choice.
The dynamics that might have caused the ruling party losing many seats to the opposition party are within reach of everyone seeking a better understanding of the 2020 general elections. Some of the discussed issues below might have caused the loss of seats of the ruling party:
Complacency as occasioned by the pursuit of programmes of populist nature. Many people in the New Patriotic Party, including their Members of Parliament, had much confidence in the programmes and policies being pursued by the government, as having a powerful influence to cause a change in the decisions of the voters. The over-reliance, by the Members of Parliament, on government’s flagship programmes such as the Free Senior High School, Planting for Food and Jobs as well as the One District One Factory, without being able to account for the power delegated to them can be identified as a causative factor in the loss of the seats the party held previously. Many of them could not account for the use of their delegated power.
Many of the Members of Parliament still hold on to the view that they are only legislators and not development agents. Such a view cannot be imposed on modern voter populace. The voters now understand, to a greater extent, that Members of Parliament perform political functions on behalf of their constituents beyond their natural duty of law-making. Members of Parliament are supposed to convincingly lobby for the public goods, services and other facilities the government is commandingly instructed by the constitution to deliver to all the regions and constituencies, making the state, to cause even and balanced development. Some of the Members of Parliament of the ruling party woefully failed to lobby for the public facilities being distributed to the regions and constituencies by the government. The worldview that Members of Parliament are only legislators is out-of-date, it has no relevance in the politics of a modern Ghana. The Members of Parliament are supposed to partner MMDCEs in their constituencies to develop the constituencies by utilizing their resources allotted to them efficiently. Many of the Members of Parliament always fail to cooperate effectively with their MMDCEs. Every Member of Parliament needs to develop lobbying skills to access projects and programmes from the Central Government, development partners and Non-governmental Organisations for their constituencies. Members of Parliament are development agents and are considered as such.
Indiscriminate sod cutting, many of which were considered spurious. It is conventional of incumbents to cutting sod for the execution of projects in election years. This stratagem is not popular in the era of modern political thinking and practice. The intention for the use of such an idea is to hoodwink the populace into believing the ruling party has performed excellently well and is performing well is dead. The current levels of voter education enable the voting populace to make well-refined conclusions and decisions in choosing their leaders. The numerous sod cutting ceremonies that heralded the 2020 elections appear to be deceptive as there was nothing to suggest the government was committed to undertaking such projects.
It can be deduced that, the government does not intent to execute such projects in reality but intends to use them as a grand scheme to garner votes. Sometimes the projects are not awarded at all. In fact, there are confirmed reports indicating there are no projects ongoing after the sod cutting. It is appropriate for governments to always embark on projects early if it wants to use such projects as a yardstick to attract and influence the voters in elections.
With the increase in literacy levels and voter education, there could be an opposition majority in Parliament if ruling parties stick to sod cutting in election years, with the execution of projects as a tool to ruse the voters. There should be a shift in thinking by Members of Parliament from the notion of absolute or exclusive legislators to being development agents whose contributions are monumental at the subnational levels.
Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey
Economics Tutor, A growing Activist and Religion Enthusiast.
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