Election 2016: Massive and peaceful political participation; the role of stakeholders

E Lectionz File photo of a Ghanaian exercising her franchise during elections

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 Source: Nana Akwasi Sarpong

Political Participation refer to activities or behavior’s intended to directly or indirectly influence Public decision making and to secure a particular outcome (Brady 1999).There are various forms of Political participation.

This include; participating in elections, strike actions, discussing public issues, participating in demonstrations, attending political rallies and many others. Election with reference to this article refer to the contest between individuals or political parties to select who will be in government and opposition.

This article discuss Ghana’s 2016 election with emphasis on the role of stakeholders in ensuring massive participation and a peaceful election with focus on the Independent Electoral Commission, Media and Political parties Ghana is a democratic State and hence upholds the various tenets of democracy; free and fair elections, respect for fundamental human rights (right to vote and to be voted for).

These tenets are not only talks but backed by the Constitutional provisions. This is stipulated in Article 35 clause 1 of Ghana 1992 Republican Constitution; “Ghana shall be a democratic state dedicated to the realization of freedom and justice; and accordingly, sovereignty resides in the people of Ghana from whom Government derives all its powers and authority through this Constitution”.

This indeed testifies that Ghana is really committed to the cause of democracy. Elections have been organized in Ghana during and after colonial rule. Concomitantly, it is of no doubt that Ghana democracy has been a checked one with military regimes in 1966, 1972, 1979 and 1981 until the emergence of constitutional or democratic governance in 1992.

Elections in Ghana has been describe as free, fair and peaceful since the emergence of democracy by election observers both home and abroad. Even though there have been issues of violence and malpractices yet Ghana is attributed as beacon of Africa’s democracy by most comrades of Ghana.

Stakeholders mean persons who have interest or concern in particular activities. Stakeholders in Ghana election play a vital role in election. They are directly or indirectly affected by the outcome of the election. Stakeholders in Ghana’s election include the electoral commission, electorates/citizenry, the media, political parties and civil societies and many others.

Electoral commission ; this is an independent constitutional establishment which is mandated to organize elections, compile voters registers and setup modalities for the conduct of any election in Ghana. It is argued that the Electoral commission has made very important strict towards its goal to ensure transparency and credible election.

Nonetheless there are number of constrains and challenges that need to be address to enhance massive electoral participation in the upcoming election so as to sustain the gains chalked up in the democratic process.

Education of the Public by the commission on the need to participate in election is key to ensuring massive participation. The Commission not long ago was chastised for not adequately educating the public on the need for participating in the just ended voter exhibition exercise (July 18th to August 7th 2016) They also blame the commission for the low turnout and also not fully informing the public about the exhibition and new registration of names of persons deleted from the register as a result of using NHIS card.

It was as a result that the commission had to give additional days for the registration. It would be better for much clarification on such exercise. The electoral commission should do its best to educate the people on the electoral process the need for participation so as to ensure massive participation.

The Public/electorates are also major stakeholders in election. It is during this period that elected officials are held accountable hence they have a role to play in ensuring massive and peaceful participation. The good people of Ghana in the enjoyment of rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of duties and obligations. Hence voting is part of their responsibilities if only they are qualified voters.

The public should do their best to avoid ethnic politics since it discourages people from participating fully in the electoral process. The influence and the power of ethnicity hinders participation. The media; Ghana’s democracy especially electoral process (voting) has been help by activities of the media.

Newspapers, FM stations both public and private, televisions and recently the various social platforms (whassap, imo, Facebook etc.) should be used as a platform to echo frequently on the relevant of voting. This will influence and encourage people to vote. The use of indecent and intemperate language should be avoided, this will lower the political tension in the country.

The media should serve as an instrument in safeguarding the setup rules by theConstitution and the Commission. They should also expose attempts by individuals who attempt to intimidate and victimize people from voting. In addition the media can also disseminate information, create political awareness and also be a vehicle for political education in particular educating the public on the need to participate in peaceful elections.

Furthermore the media should discuss vividly the manifestos of the various parties this will enable them to massively participate in the election and hold government accountable.

Political parties also play important roles in election. They provide candidates to be voted for. Elections can make them be in government or opposition. Political parties over the years have been sometimes adamant to electoral rules, intimidation and victimization which have adverse effect on electoral participation.

The various political parties should stick by the rules. Political parties should bring out manifestos since it shapes voters choice. These documented policies influence the electorates to vote and hold government accountable.

Political parties should do their best to follow the laid down procedures in elections so as to enhance full political participation since Politics is all about conflict and resolution. Let’s all and sundry do our best and participate massively and peacefully in the upcoming election.

Writer's e-mail: nanasarpong389@gmail.com

Columnist: Nana Akwasi Sarpong