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11.01.2006 General News

Editorial: A Third Force is Most Welcome

By Statesman

The Statesman welcomes the proposed formation of a new political party that is billed to challenge the electoral dominance of the two leading parties in the country, the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress. Indeed, the bitterness that has characterised the discourse between the two leading parties is denying the electorate the necessary political choices needed to enhance the growth of the nation's democracy.

It would therefore be in the interest of the nation if a third force emerges on the political landscape. We believe if the NPP is to lose power, it would be happier to lose it to a party other than the NDC; and the same would hold true for the NDC as well.

As a result of the first-past-the-post nature of our politics, we believe it would be an up-hill task for any new party to speed past the two leading contenders in the 2008 elections. However, it would be the height of complacency for any party to claim to control more than 30 percent of the core electorate, so there is certainly room for a third political force. Some of the names that have come up as being behind the new party are certainly formidable, and carry a lot of weight.

The NPP has every reason to encourage the formation of a third formidable party. The logic is two-fold: the party would prefer losing to a credible third party in the 2008 election than to the NDC; and a credible third party is likely to split the opposition votes, ensuring its electoral victory. But, the party must bear in mind that the new party would be an opposition party. The relevance of an opposition party is to provide an alternative to the status quo, and an opposition party with such a bevy of influential backers would certainly present a credible alternative to the electorate. Of course, this would be to Ghana's gain.

Hopefully, the formation of a third credible party would jar the two leading parties out of their complacency, evidenced in the mediocrity of the political exchanges on offer. A new party would up the political ante; any move to send the message that violence has no place in our politics would be most welcome. A new party should act as a spur to action to the present leading parties. It should force them to question and strengthen their own policies and values in the face of new challenges – to define to themselves and their followers what it is they stand for and can offer. It should force the NPP and the NDC to fight harder for the support of their electorate, and when in government, to stick to those promises in the knowledge that there is more than one alternative; that the choice is both more complex and more attractive than a simple 'us and them' dichotomy.

The birth of a third respectable party in Ghana should serve to strengthen democracy in our country, to the benefit of everyone: giving our voters more options, making each party compete harder for those votes, and delivering back to the people what should as a result be a more effective and heavily-scrutinised government.

All forces must therefore come together to help form the new party. However, we hope they would not become the victims of the malaise that has gripped the CPP and the PNC. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, we dare say the name 'Nkrumah' has ceased to become an automatic election winner. Ghanaians may respect Dr Nkrumah, but would rather vote for an alternative that is ready to focus on the future rather than one that constantly seeks to move backwards before advancing.

If the new party is to be taken seriously, it must avoid any pretence of socialism, and embrace what works and is meaningful to moving the country forward.