Throughout history, Political parties and candidates have always been considered as key stakeholders in election cycles.
Candidates contesting for office are usually affiliated with political parties which define the candidate’s ideology and policy position while addressing issues with which the electorate can identify based on the political party’s platform mirrored in the candidate’s election promises. Candidates, as individuals, represent a party’s platform, and with the help and support of their affiliated party apparatus, they compete for public office, carry out election campaigns, and try to convince voting citizens to cast their ballot for them. Ultimately, the ability to openly campaign, receive credible public support through the voting process, assume public office, or form a credible opposition depends to a large extent on the legal, political, and socio-cultural environment, outcome, and public acceptance of the election results.
Additionally, public acceptance of the outcome must be followed by final validation of the election result by political parties and their respective candidates. If both the voting public and political party candidates do not accept election results due to real or perceived electoral fraud or irregularities, the legitimacy of the resulting legislature or government is threatened. It is based on this principle that after the eight-month Supreme Court hearing, the panel of Justices made some proposals for which the Electoral Commission has
inaugurated a 10-member committee to study proposals for electoral reforms and offer recommendations ahead of the 2016 general elections.
But what is fascinating in all of this is the deliberate decision by the electoral commission to inaugurate an unfair 10-member committee to examine, among other proposals, the recommendations made by the Supreme Court Justices. Out of this 10-member committee, three of them are from the EC including its Director of Public Relations; three members from civil society organizations which included Dr. Ransford Gyampo of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the very institution which discriminated against PPP in the 2012 Presidential debate by not inviting the party’s Presidential candidate to participate in their Presidential debates with the excuse that the Party did not have representation in Parliament, and Dr. Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow at Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG).
Interestingly, the NPP, NDC, CPP and Yes People’s Party, a political party which has never contested an election in Ghana have all been given representation while the remaining over 24 political parties were asked to select one person to represent their views. The question is why should the EC make such a grisly decision in a multi-party democracy?
It is worthy to note that on 11th wrote to the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) about the formation of the Electoral Reform Committee. The PPP in a response dated 15thproposal; particularly the one requesting all minority parties, except the NPP, to nominate two representatives to the Electoral Reform Committee. The PPP further indicated that its central proposed reform to deploy a full electronic voting system was not shared by the September, 2014, the Electoral Commission of Ghana September, 2014, objected to most of the EC’s other political parties. And as a result, the interest of the PPP could not be represented by anyone but a representative from the PPP.
Upon making the counter proposal, the EC never wrote back to the PPP but decided to do the most preposterous thing which has resulted in the decision of the PPP to take legal action against the Electoral Commission for showing the third largest political party and the second biggest opposition party in Ghana gross disrespect and discrimination.
What is even more pathetic is that the Head of Public Affairs of the Commission, Christian Owusu Parry, has declared on several media platforms that the criteria used by the EC for inviting political parties to the committee was basically on their election track record. That is to say, they considered political parties that have participated in almost every election since 1992. But again, if that argument has any basis, then the exclusion of the People’s National Convention (PNC) should give reason for anyone to conclude that the argument by the Electoral Commission can at best be described as Kettle logic.
This blatant act of discrimination on the part of the electoral Commission against the Progressive People’s Party is not the first time. When the 2012 voter register was ready to be distributed to political parties at the EC Headquarters, all other parties had to wait for NPP and NDC to first collect their register before all others could do same. The most worrying aspect of it all was that, the EC distributed the register according to the number of Parliamentary seats a particular political party was contesting. In the case of the PPP,
because the party was contesting in 210 constituencies out of the 275, the party was given 210 voter registers forgetting that apart from the Parliamentary elections, the PPP was also contesting in the Presidential elections in all the Constituencies.
It needs to be emphasized that while the existence of strong political parties are necessary for the survival of democracy, there can never be any strong democracy and good governance if the EC continues to tread on the path of discriminating against political parties because of their size and date of formation. Arguably, it is the expectation of many that this legal action the PPP is pursuing would serve as a reminder to the EC that the 1992 Constitution of Ghana frowns on all forms of discrimination.
The EC must prove beyond all reasonable doubts to be truly non-partisan. It must engage in acts that deepen our multi-party democracy and not indulge in mathematics of in selection.It is important to state also that any attempt by the Electoral Commission to impose Duverger's law on Ghanaians, thereby creating extreme difficulty for anybody attempting to achieve electoral success under any banner other than NDC and NPP shall be resisted with all our might.
AWAKE EC, the international community is watching!