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Lack of electoral vigilance has been NPP’s arch nemesis

Voters Queue To Cast Ballot32123JPG File photo

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 Source: Badu, K

Even though it has been well-stencilled that a coalescence of an effective campaign messages and a formidable candidate increases the chances of electoral victory (Baek 2009), a political party would be committing an electoral suicide for failing to keep an eagle eye on its opponent’s voracious and diabolical agenda.

In Ghana, and developing countries as a whole, voters are not always magnetised by a melodious and well-executed campaign messages, but voters are mostly proselytised through melodic material promises and gifts.

Indeed, the vast majority of voters in most developing countries do not cast their votes primarily on issues, but often through unbridled devoted attachment and material presents.

It has, however, been well-documented that electoral power could be secured through a conflation of an effective strategy, including vigilance and a charismatic candidate (Ames 1995; Baek 2009).

Thus, an effective campaign strategy and a venerable leader are inseparable ingredients of an electoral success.

For instance, it would be politically and strategically inept for a political party striving for power to turn a blind eye to the shenanigans of an opponent who has an enthusiastic devotion for influencing the rural voters or the influential people such as Chiefs.

Apparently, the purported NDC government policy of one Chief one Toyota Land Cruiser comes to mind.

In any case, it is a well-established fact that such machination is effective in gaining electoral advantage in rural areas, especially in developing countries (Ames 1995).

Thus, it would be a huge mistake on the part of any political party vying for power not to devise effective and operable strategies to counter such shenanigans of its opponent and only banking all hopes on the campaign messages and the venerability of the Flag-bearer or candidate.

In so far as well-executed messages may allure some sizeable voters, it can also be argued that the vast majority of voters in developing countries often do not consider the logical consequences of the electioneering messages (Ames 1995).

Take, for example, if, euphonic and forward looking campaign message like ‘free SHS’ was inexplicably rejected by the same people who more often than not struggle to meet the costs of their children secondary education, then we can infer that some Ghanaians do not vote mainly on issues that affect them.

It is also true that some voters’ uncontrolled state of affection towards a particular party or individuals does not taper off through effective campaign messages. Typical examples can be found in the electorates from Volta and Ashanti regions.

Ironically, however, a typical Ghanaian voter somehow does not stencil on his/her mental sheet the failed promises and the abysmal performances of the incumbent government.

It was against such a notion that President Mahama boldly asserted that Ghanaians have short memory.

To put it bluntly, the vast majority of Ghanaian electorates often do not view the failed promises of the incumbent government as a serious issue.

Apparently, the voters more often than not sufficiently inure to the persistent dereliction of duty of successive governments. Consequently, some electorates would blissfully accept all sorts of gifts and then cast their votes without taking into account their own future and that of their children, and their children’s children.

Thus, politicians in the developing countries having the first-hand knowledge of the unreflective thinking skills of the vast majority of electorates would then resort to material enticements in exchange of votes.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the incumbent governments, in their insatiable cravings for electoral victory, would do everything in their power to cling on to power, including dipping their hands into the national coffers.

Elections may also be rigged in a number of ways. For example, the electoral body, in conjunction with the incumbency, may clandestinely increase the votes of the incumbent government through proxy voting; ballot stuffing; caging of the voters list; bizarre rejection of the opponent’s share of the votes; placing old and least reliable Biometric Verification Machines in the opponent’s precincts or strongholds.

There is no denying of the fact that electoral cheats will do everything possible to devise a fiendish scheme to gain electoral advantage over their opponents.

A typical example is when in 2013, a Councillor from Manchester in the United Kingdom disowned his daughter who was his opponent in local council elections due to electoral fraud.

His daughter, who represented the Labour Party, came victorious in the county council elections. However, her father who was the incumbent and the representative of the UK Independent Party uncovered electoral malpractices and reported the matter to the police.

Her father discovered that she had earlier registered four voters from another country in her home address.

In an attempt to exonerate themselves from the opprobrium, the leadership of the Labour party went ahead and dismissed the ignominious electoral fraudster.

In another instance, prior to the Scottish referendum, several Scottish newspapers reported that children as young as three to eleven years old were being handed with ballot cards.

The newspapers alleged that the parents of the innocent children reported the cases to the authorities.

Interestingly, we can learn two things from the preceding expositions- strategy and vigilance.

On the one hand, we can deduce that strategy indeed wins elections as showed by the Labour Party’s candidate. On the other hand, we can conclude that vigilance can uncover the shenanigans of an opponent as happened in the case of UK Independent Party’s candidate.

So to all political parties: elections are won through effective strategy and vigilance, but not through a mere manful optimism.

Indeed, a well-executed campaign strategy and vigilance are pivotal in the electoral victory.

K. Badu, UK.

Columnist: Badu, K