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Opinions Fri, 12 Aug 2016

Melodious messages versus melodic material promises and gifts?

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, on 7th December 2016, the eligible Ghanaian electorates will go to the polls to choose the politicians they so desire to govern the country.

Obviously, the competing political parties will put forward formidable parliamentary and presidential candidates with a view to clasping power. However, popularity alone cannot often win power. It is rather a combination of venerability and effective campaign strategies that may win power.

Apparently, it has been well-documented that electoral power could be secured through a coalescence of an effective strategy and a charismatic candidate (Ames 1995; Baek 2009).

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

Even though it has been stencilled that a conflation of effective campaign messages and a formidable candidate often win election (Baek 2009), a political party would be committing an electoral suicide for failing to closely monitor its opponent’s manoeuvres.

Of course, a Political Party may have tuneful electioneering messages and credible candidates, the ploys of the arch opponent have to be neutralised at all costs.

For instance, it would be strategically suicidal for a political party to turn a blind eye to the impishness of an opponent who has an inborn inclination for influencing the rural voters or the influential people such as Chiefs.

Needless to say, 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 not to devise effective 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.

For, in as much 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).

As a matter of fact, electorates are not always magnetised by a melodious and well-executed campaign messages, but rather through melodic material promises and gifts.

In a nutshell, the vast majority of electorates in the developing countries do not cast their votes primarily on issues, but rather through unbridled devoted attachment and material presents.

For, if, euphonic and forward looking campaign message like ‘free SHS’ was inexplicably rejected by the same people who often 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 Ghanaian voters’ uncontrolled state of affection towards a particular party or individuals does not taper off through effective campaign messages.

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

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

Apparently, the electorates have sufficiently inured the persistent dereliction of duty of successive governments, and have somehow lost the zeal to choose between average and worst performers.

Consequently, some electorates would cast their votes for the sake of exercising their democratic rights 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.

Paradoxically, however, 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 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 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 shown by the Labour Party’s candidate. On the other hand, we can conclude that vigilance can uncover the shenanigans of an opponent as shown by the 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, it is also true that a charismatic and venerable leader could win electoral power, as shown by Tony Blair in 1997 UK general election and Obama in 2008 U.S general election.

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

K. Badu, UK.
Columnist: Badu, K