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20.10.2008 Politics

Parties joggle for ballot position tomorrow

Parties joggle for ballot position tomorrow

With seven presidential aspirants representing political parties and an independent aspirant now set for the December 7 presidential election, balloting will take place at the Electoral Commission tomorrow for positions on the ballot paper.

Balloting has been a highly anticipated event in the past and it has enriched sloganeering in political party campaigning with such slogans as “Asee ho” and “Esoro ho”.

The Director of Elections at the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr Albert Kofi Arhin, told the Daily Graphic that there would be two ballots, with the first one meant for the parties to pick a number which would indicate when a party would pick for its actual position on the ballot paper.

That, he explained, would allow the parties to have fair opportunity to pick their positions on the ballot paper.

Balloting for positions on the ballot paper is keenly anticipated, since political parties use their positions on the ballot paper to coin attractive political slogans to win more votes in their campaigns to win political power.

In 2000, for instance, balloting and sloganeering came up and when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) found itself at the bottom of the ballot paper, it coined the slogan “Asee Ho”.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC), which occupied the second position on the paper, came up with “Esoro ho”. Those developments generated intense interest in the political campaign.

Mr Arhin, however, said independent candidates would not engage in the balloting because they automatically would follow the political parties on the ballot paper.

“If there are more than one independent candidate the EC will use the alphabetical order to position them,” he said.

Mr Arhin said ballot positions picked by the political parties at the national level would be replicated at the constituency levels.

He said the exercise would start at 10.00 a.m. and presidential candidates had the option to be there in person or delegate representatives.

When the Daily Graphic contacted the National Organiser of the NPP, Mr Lord Commey, on his party's expectation, he declared, “We have already come up with a slogan which we believe cuts across whatever position we will find ourselves occupying on the ballot paper.”

He indicated that the “Asee ho” slogan the party adopted for its 2000 election campaign, though very catchy, also ended up confusing some of its parliamentary candidates and voters because independent candidates, by the EC's arrangement, automatically occupied the last position on the ballot paper.

He said in the case of the 2000 elections because there were no independent presidential candidates, it was easy for the NPP's presidential candidate to use that slogan.

“This time around we will not be part of the business of clamouring for positions on the ballot paper because we have a slogan we believe will stand the test of time,” Lord Commey said.

The National Organiser of the NDC, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, said the NDC believed in providence and so wherever God would place it on the ballot paper, it would work hard to convince Ghanaians to vote for the party.

He said the NDC had no statistical interest in occupying a specific position on the ballot paper, since Ghanaians had already made up their minds to vote the NDC into power.

Positions on the ballot paper would, therefore, not change minds made up, he stated, and indicated that the party would go to the EC on Tuesday to take part in the exercise as a normal electoral duty.

The Deputy General Secretary of the People's National Convention (PNC), Mr Alfred Addo-Mensah, said the party had no preference and was ready to work with any position on the ballot paper.

He said it would be good to get the first slot for easy reference purposes, “but I can assure you that that will not really influence voters' decision”.

He said under Dr Edward Mahama, the party's flag bearer, the PNC remained focused and would continue to work hard for victory at the December polls.

The running mate of the independent presidential candidate, Mr Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah, Mr X-Shalom Yaw Gonu, hinted that since Mr Amoafo-Yeboah would automatically occupy the last position on the ballot paper, they would take advantage of the “Asee ho” slogan to drum home their campaign message.

He said since Mr Amoafo-Yeboah's position was already known, by virtue of his being an independent, they were not under any pressure.

The Deputy General Secretary of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), Mr John Ameka, said it was the party's expectation to pick the first position on the ballot paper.

“I am praying hard to God to help me to pick the first slot. I have done it before and I know I will do it again,” he said.

He explained that since the DFP was winning the 2008 elections, it would be natural to pick the first position as a symbolical gesture.

He predicted that positions on this year's ballot paper would come to pass and be confirmed after the elections.

The General Secretary of the Reformed Patriotic Democrats (RPD), Mr Francis Kyei, said the RPD was hoping to pick a strategic position on the ballot paper.

“Positions on the ballot paper count a lot, and since it is time for change, we are looking at either the first or the last slot. Either pick will help our party's quest to win this year's election,” he stated.

Mr Ekow Duncan, the campaign co-ordinator of the Convention People's Party (CPP), said the party's victory was not dependent on its position on the ballot paper.

He said it was the belief of the CPP that it would win the elections on account of its policies and programmes for the people.

He said Ghanaians had confidence in the CPP because of its message — a party that would create jobs and wealth for the people — and not merely because of the position it occupied on the ballot paper.

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