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What Type Of Representative Is Your Member of Parliament?   
 
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01-Jul-2015  
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Regardless of the political arrangements, almost every country in our modern world has or claims to have a legislature—the law-making body.


Depending on the prevailing political system of the country, normally its citizens elect or appoint some of their compatriots to represent them in the legislative chamber. In Ghana today as we know, the national legislative branch where law-making process takes place is called the Parliament.

As a representative democracy, Ghana’s Constitution unambiguously states that every four years Ghanaians of certain legal age must go to the polls to elect their representatives for parliament. These groups of elected citizens who end up in parliament to represent their respective constituents in Ghana are called Members of Parliament or MP, for short. Stripped to its inner core, the task of every representative or MP, especially in democratic settings such as Ghana, is to speak and act in the genuine interest of the people or the constituents. 

For now the interesting political conundrum we are trying to explore relates to: What type of representative you think your current MP is? For instance, does your MP come across as a political clown; a power-drunk; a self-serving legislator; a clueless backbencher; a political “Methuselah” only holding on to his/her seat till death-do-us-apart; a rubber-stamp-one-direction MP; an emotional lawmaker who reacts impulsively to every media report out there and dabble in endlessly partisan demagoguery?

Seriously, what caliber of parliamentarian represents your constituency as we speak? Can you say with pride and certainty that the MP who represents your district speaks and acts selflessly on your behalf in parliament? Better yet, is the MP from your area unassumingly approachable person with no traces of elitism whose primary concern(s) is to strive for what is best for your area? Needless to say, is the MP you have today an effective performer known for taking independent policy positions in an effort to support and promote his/her electorates’ interests?

We know that like in many other human institutions, there are the good and the bad actors. Undoubtedly, there are sorry or bad medical doctors, PhD holders, teachers, lawyers, nurses, farmers, writers, politicians, journalists, MPs, heads of state, and what have you.

On other hand, we have good, brainy, or top-performing MPs in Ghana not interested in sitting tight mostly in Accra while engaging in media photo ops and soapbox oratories. The efficient MPs out there not only “talk the talk” but also they “walk the walk,” and their track records are an open book, thanks to the prevalence of the social media, including those fearless and incorruptible Ghanaian media practitioners working hard every day to help entrench the nation’s fragile democracy.   

Indeed, there are litanies of questions we can examine regarding the core functions of our MPs. Thus, we can ask: What is the purpose of these representatives in parliament? Whom do the MPs actually represent? Do the MPs’ actions truly measure up to their campaign promises? Are they or some of them elected into the people’s chamber (parliament) only to turn around and behave as if they’re larger-than-life or above any honest criticism?

At any rate, a cadre of political thinkers has come out with several ways or representation models people can use to assess or find out about their MPs’ nature and style of how they carry out their responsibilities on behalf of their respective constituencies.

One of the styles of representation is termed “Delegate Model.” For this style of representation, a particular MP viewed him- or –herself simply as a delegate of the people. Hence, his or her job in parliament is to do the best to execute the wishes of the constituents who made his/her election possible. In this regard, how do you see your current MP from this perspective?

Another style of representation which your MP probably exhibits is the “Trustee Model.” Here, the MP may try to take into account the will of his or her constituents but turns around to argue that the long-term and overall interests of the entire country should trump the interests of his/her electoral district. Accordingly, this MP will go ahead and do what he or she always thinks is in the supreme interest of the nation as opposed to the will of his constituents. Does the MP you have today display this type of representation in your area?

In addition to the above two types of representation is the “Conscience Model” legislator. As the name implies, this type of representative or MP—for most part—goes along the dictates and the will of the constituents till conscience pushes him or her to the opposite direction.

This presupposes that upon deep contemplations and sleepless nights, this MP at this point has no other best option but to follow solely his/her moral conscience in taking a particular issue position. Now can you say your MP votes or takes public position(s) on the premise of his/her conscience or just toes a party’s line all the time?   

Last but not the least is the “Politico Model” representative. According to this type of representation, the parliamentarian might take positions based on his or her own worldview as regards what is right or wrong until public opinion back home forces him or her to cater to the will of the constituents. For this representation prototype, as long as the people at the constituency have no any objection, the MP is free to follow his or her personal judgment.

Once again, how does your MP vote in parliament on major issues? Do you know or care?  What type or style of representation is your current MP? Does your parliamentarian represent your constituency along the lines of delegate, trustee, conscience, politico, the combinations of the above, or none of the foregoing models? It is interesting to know.  

Bernard Asubonteng is based in the United States. He teaches political science and media influences on American culture at the university level. He can be reached at: [email protected]
 
 
Source: Bernard Asubonteng
 
 

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