Successes so far going into 7th election

Wed, 30 Mar 2016 Source: Kobby Asmah

Barring any hitches, Ghanaians will be voting for the seventh time on November 7, 2016, in a general election.

This means that under the current Fourth Republican dispensation, which began in 1992, Ghanaians have already gone to the polls six times (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012).

Having done the same thing over and over again for six times and going into the seventh time obviously means that many lessons have been learnt by the Electoral Commission (EC) and critical stakeholders—the political parties, governance institutions and the electorate.

But a careful look at the country’s growing democracy since its inception may portray a growth of two tales. A tale of democratic success on one side and that of failure, uncertainty, suspicion and mistrust on the other.

Electoral strides

However, a realistic reflection on some of the key success stories in our electoral processes since the inception of the Fourth Republic gives a pat on the shoulders of all stakeholders, notwithstanding the difficulties and associated acrimony and the state of anxiety prevailing in the country in the run-up to Election 2016.

A number of significant vital reforms have come about due to collective decision making and inputs by key stakeholders, particularly at the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC).

The concept of the IPAC, a non-statutory advisory body, formed in March 1993, was conceived by the EC after the 1992 general election to create a two-way communication channel of information collection from the political parties and also discuss all aspects of activities and programmes as well as elicit inputs and explain important and relevant matters, when possible. Political parties are given the opportunity at IPAC meetings to openly speak their minds with the view to rectifying anomalies for the good of the future.

It is also aimed at bringing together on a monthly basis representatives of the political party members of the EC to discuss and try to build consensus on electoral issues. Representatives of the international donor community that have assisted the electoral process are also invited to observe proceedings at IPAC meeting. However, IPAC is not open to the general public or the media.

There is no doubt that the role played by the IPAC has brought some cordiality and diplomacy among parties and catalysed an indirect decision-making on the electoral process since its inception.

Going into the seventh election, it will be worthwhile to revisit where we have come from as a nation in order to appreciate the strides the country has made in improving its electoral system over the years and going into the future.

Code of conduct

In 1992, opposition political parties made several accusations against the incumbent government for using state vehicles at the expense of other parties and controlling the state media, among others. As a process. Political parties contesting elections were, therefore, allowed to keep track of ballot papers from the printing houses to their various destinations.

Changes in electoral process

IPAC has since 1993 been instrumental in changes in the electoral process, including amendments to legislative instruments (CI) 12 and 15 and later 72, 75 and now 92.

Other reviews include the amendment to PNDCL 281 of 1992 in 2000; the Representation of the People Law (PNDCL 284) of 1992, amended in 2000; the Public Elections Regulations (CI 15) of 1996; the Political Parties Act of 2000 (Act 574) and the Political Parties Code of Conduct of 2000, amended in 2004.

Transparent ballot boxes

One of the significant reforms that also took place after the 1992 general election was the replacement of opaque ballot boxes with transparent ones in the conduct of both the presidential and parliamentary elections. This is to enhance transparency and build trust in the electoral process.

Voting in the open

In 1992, casting of votes took place in classrooms, leading to allegations and counter -allegations by political parties, observers and the electorate.

However, the system was alleged to have been abused by some of the electorate who carried foreign materials with the view to voting more than once as stipulated by law.

In order to build further trust and confidence in the process and to avoid conflict, the EC, in conjunction with IPAC, agreed that any party or candidate contesting an election should have an agent at the polling centre and voting done in the open.

Before 2000, party agents were not allowed to get closer to the officials; they were supposed to observe proceedings at a distance. However, latest reforms permit agents to operate from a reasonable distance to have a fairly good knowledge of the voting process.

In 1992, the recounting of ballots was only done at the constituency level. However, there have been reforms since 1996. Election results can now be recounted at the polling centres if there is a challenge.

The assistance of the physically challenged to vote; the use of brail by the blind and the opportunity to assist in voting are all reforms as a result of deliberations at IPAC. Today, the nation has a biometric voter register and is planning to go into electronic voting.


Looking at the various successes chalked up in the country’s democratic journey, Ghanaians should not be too pessimistic on the way forward. What needs to be done now is for them to help shape the quality of what already pertains and believe strongly that it would succeed. result, a code of conduct for political parties was adopted and introduced by IPAC as a means of creating a level playing field for all competing parties contesting an election.

It is worth noting that the main document governing political parties in Ghana — the Political Parties Law — emanates from the 1992 Constitution.

The purpose of the code is to guide political parties in their day-to-day activities, especially during campaign periods.

Presence of agents at printing houses

Interestingly, the concept of the presence of party agents at printing houses where ballot papers are printed was agreed upon between the political parties and the EC. This concept was aimed at building trust and confidence in the electoral

Columnist: Kobby Asmah