Decision Time - It's A Close Contest Between Akufo-Addo & Mills
About 10.2 million Ghanaians are voting today, Sunday, to decide the fate of eight candidates seeking to become the third President of Ghana under the Fourth Republic and also elect 230 parliamentarians into office.
Indications are that the presidential race will be a close contest between Professor John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP)).
Although many local and international opinion polls put the NPP flag bearer ahead of his NDC counterpart, political analysts suggest that in the event of a run-off, the candidate of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, will to a large extent be the king maker, with the candidate of the People's National Convention (PNC) expected to make a little impact in that regard.
In the 2004 presidential elections, President J. A. Kufuor of the NPP obtained 52.4 per cent of the valid votes cast to clinch a first round victory, while Prof. Mills of the NDC had 44.6 per cent; Dr Edward Nasigre Mahama of the PNC, 1.9 per cent, and Mr George Aggudey of the CPP, one per cent.
On a regional basis, the NPP won six out of the 10 regions in the presidential elections.
Whereas the NPP is seeking to repeat its first round feat in Election 2008, the NDC is also eager to return to power and reclaim its political dominance.
In the 2004 parliamentary elections, the NPP secured 128 out of the 230 seats, while the NDC obtained 94 seats with the PNC having four and the CPP three and one by an independent candidate.
The pattern of parliamentary results in some of the constituencies is likely to be maintained in today's elections. However, in others, particularly the closely contested ones, the seats are likely to swing to either side of the political divide.
In the Ashanti Region, the NPP won 36 out of the 39 parliamentary seats with the NDC taking the remaining three. All of them appear safe for their respective parties.
Out of the 24 seats in the Brong Ahafo Region, the NPP won 14 with the NDC taking the remaining 10 seats. Some of the closely contested seats were Asunafo South and Asutifi South, which the NDC won, as well as Asutifi North and Dormaa West, which the NPP won.
The dominance of the NPP was overwhelming in the Central Region, winning 16 out of the 19 parliamentary seats, with the NDC securing two seats and the CPP one.
Seats in the region that are likely to swing in today's election include Effutu, which the NPP won by a little over 1,000 votes, and Mfantsiman East, which the NDC also won by a little over 1,000 votes.
With 22 seats, the NPP is seeking to maintain its dominance in the Eastern Region over the NDC, which has six seats. And one particular seat that appears within the reach of the NPP is Upper West Akyem, which the NDC won by a difference of 245 votes.
Considered as a swinging region, the Greater Accra Region is expected to witness a keen competition between the NPP, which has 16 out of the 27 seats, and the NDC with 11 seats, as the NDC seeks to improve on its fortunes.
Some of the closely contested constituencies which are likely to swing are Abokobi-Madina, which the NDC won by 32,080 votes as against NPP's 30,330 votes, as well as Adenta and Trobu-Amasaman, which the NPP won narrowly, that is, 17,964 votes to NDC's 17,020, and 31,459 votes to 31,017 respectively.
Other hot seats in the region by way of their closeness are Klottey-Korle, Krowor and Ledzokuku.
The Western Region is another area likely to generate intense competition for supremacy between the NPP and the NDC despite the fact that the NPP holds 12 out of the 22 parliamentary seats, with the NDC having eight and the CPP two.
Whereas the NPP has the southern part of the region as its stronghold, the NDC has a monopoly over the north. But this time around the contest will be very interesting in Amenfi Central where the NDC beat the NPP narrowly by 14,139 votes to 14,006.
The Volta, Northern, Upper West and Upper East regions are the strongholds of the NDC and the party would be seeking to maintain its dominance.
Out of the 26 seats in the Northern Region, the NPP has only eight; the NDC 17 with one independent candidate.
Among the constituencies that are likely to be close are Chereponi and Damongo/Daboya, where the NPP beat the NDC by a total of about 300 votes, as well as Mion and Nanton, which the NDC also won by a similar margin.
Out of 13 seats in the Upper East Region, the NPP had two, the NDC nine and the PNC two, while in the Upper West Region, the NDC swept seven out of the 10 seats, leaving only one for the NPP and two for the PNC.
From the look of things, there will not be any significant change in those regions just like the Volta Region where the NDC holds 21 out of the 22 seats with the NPP managing the remaining one seat. By Kofi Yeboah