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Has the Electoral Commission set the stage for Election 2016?

Mon, 4 Jan 2016 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Folks, the Electoral Commission says that it will not compile any new voters register for Election 2016. Its decision was based on the recommendations of the 5-member panel that it had set up to gather views from the citizens and identifiable organizations (political parties, civil society groups, etc.). (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/EC-says-no-to-new-Voters-Register-404465).

Meantime, while the NDC is supporting the EC's stance, the NPP and its affiliates or lackeys in the mushroom political parties backing its stentorian demand for a new register are chafing. The Let My Vote Count Alliance has already come out to condemn the EC for not bowing to pressure. (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/LMVC-rejects-EC-report-on-voters-register-vows-to-go-to-court-404662).

Folks, what next? It's as simple as ABC. Why would the NPP and its allies be condemning the existing register as bloated and discredited but at the same time participate in bye-elections conducted by the EC, using the same register? What sort of dangerous hypocrisy is this?

Again, considering the economic situation, it is impossible for the EC to be funded adequately to compile a new register.

Third, what guarantee is there that whatever necessitated the "bloating" of the existing register that the NPP and its allies are condemning will not occur again?

Fourth, is it not possible that the demand for a new register is part of a hidden agenda for some citizens living in certain parts of the country to be disfranchised as is being speculated that the exercise toward compiling a new register will give certain political parties the clout to prevent them from voting where they live?

Finally, after rejecting the EC's decision, what will these NPP people and their allies do? Mount more pressure on the EC? Or what? Certainly, they cannot afford to boycott the elections or abstain from the processes leading to Election 2016. So, what next for them? Sabotage? Go round the world again to do what for the EC to change its stance? Can the EC even change its stance no matter what they say or do?

I have continued to say that although technicalities matter in general elections, they don’t automatically ensure electoral victory for those fixated on them. And the voters register is a technicality. The EC has pledged to continue cleaning the existing register whenever possible, even as it registers newly qualified prospective voters and deletes the names of deceased ones. It has called for cooperation from the various political parties on that score. Its meetings with the parties under the auspices of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee have always been beneficial. It says it lacks funds for anything such as compiling a new voters register; and the government has equally reiterated its resolve not to over-spend money just because there will be elections this year. What more can it do?

Winning or losing Election 2016 depends on what the political parties do or fail to do. Those seeking to replace the NDC administration need not concentrate on mere technicalities. They should go to the voters with convincing messages and put in place measures to ensure vigilance at the polls. They needn’t remain fixated on their anachronistic rogue and book politics of threatening to cause violence if their demands are not met or if they lose the elections. Neither should they go about making “huhudious” promises to irritate the electorate. The people already know that such cheap politicking is a mere political gimmick. They have ample evidence of promises being cheaply made by those seeking power who couldn’t fulfill them once their dreams came true. So, why tempt them?

Furthermore, those embarking on the politics of calumny, ethnocentricism, and other negative traits won’t win the hearts and minds of the people. After all, insults can’t do better than persuasive messages on what those seeking to replace the incumbent can do better to solve problems. That is why any move by the NPP, especially, to engage those insulting their flagbearer in a toe-to-toe verbal warfare won’t wash with the electorate. The people already know what they need to know about him. So, why waste time trading insults?

For the incumbent NDC administration too, there is a lot to do to retain power. So much has been invested in the politics of infrastructural development that one might be tempted to conclude that Election 2016 is a done deal for it. Unfortunately, it isn’t so, clearly because there is a lot more for the people to consider beyond the development projects in front of their eyes. They will need to be told why the government couldn’t solve major problems to assuage fears, doubts, and suspicions. The future of the country is what they will juxtapose with the government’s policies and how much it has been able to do after being given the mandate, what it has failed to do, and why it is necessary at all to retain it in power.

In that regard, then, the EC’s decision not to compile a new voters register throws a huge challenge to the various political parties. They should accept it in good faith and move on to connect with the electorate instead of wasting time and resources crying over spilt milk, organizing street demonstrations, and eroding their support base thereby.

Folks, has the EC set the stage for good or bad? Over to the various political parties!!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.