5
Politics Wed, 29 Jul 2009

DI Calls For A Maximum Of 5 Presidential Aspirants For Npp, Not 3

The Danquah Institute (DI) has followed with keen interest the constitutional reform proposals that will be put before the National Conference of the New Patriotic Party at their extraordinary conference to take place in August and we are of the view that the decision to limit the number of presidential nominees to a definite number of three may cause more problems that it seeks to resolve. We believe a better option is to base the shortlist qualification on an aspirant obtaining a 20 percent endorsement of the first tier of Special Electoral College delegates. This, in theory, could see up to five presidential nominees making the shortlist, rather than two. Again, the percentage elimination option could more effectively eliminate timewasters and, hence, the possibility of an expensive but farcical and unnecessary ‘competition’, as happened in December 2007.

The NPP NEC document setting out the summarised proposals for constitutional amendment accepts that “it is the democratic right of every member to aspire to the position of Presidential Candidate of the Party, but the exercise should not create sharp divisions, bad public image and waste of resources.” The meeting thus decided on the need for modifications to improve the system by which the Presidential Candidate is (s)elected. The primary reform intended to achieve this would be the adoption of a two-stage procedure whenever there are more than three Presidential aspirants. This then allows a maximum number of three shortlisted candidates to be put before the expanded electoral college of about 115,000 delegates. The two-stage procedure means that every aspirant must first go before a Special Electoral College, estimated to be not more than 560 leading party members, including MPs, National and Regional Executive Officers of the Party.

It is our view that the Party is better off setting a percentage which a candidate must obtain at the first stage of voting before the Special Electoral College than to say only three persons can qualify, regardless of the voting strength of the third candidate as compared to all others. The pattern of the NPP’s four previous presidential nominations show that allowing but three candidates to contest is likely to only cause avoidable consternation among the other candidates who may miss the third place marginally and their supporters. Also, the pattern of earlier delegates’ voting suggest that the third candidate is likely to obtain only marginal votes. Yet, the third candidate has the potential to force a run-off which would be expensive, arguably unnecessary and create more tension. Such a run-off is likely to take place on a different date among over 100,000 delegates across all 230 constituencies if moves to expand the electoral college succeed.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Danquah Institute, therefore, makes the following recommendations, with a detailed write-up on the proposals available on our website: www.danquahinstitute.org 1. With the SEC in place, Presidential Aspirants need not obtain the prior endorsement of a number of party members from across the 10 Regions. All valid nominations would go before the SEC, and each delegate would then cast their vote for the candidate of their choice. 2. The Special Electoral College must be expanded to include the 230 Constituency Chairpersons across the country. This should bring the numbers up to about 790 delegates. 3. A candidate should receive the endorsement of at least 20 percent of the members of the Special Electoral College to make the shortlist. Rather than at the SEC level putting a determinate automatic cap of say, two or three, on the number of candidates for the shortlist, the requirement percentage of 20 percent of SEC vote will limit the number of candidates to a maximum of five. 4. The Party should regulate the campaign donations and spending of its presidential nominees, in spite of there being no national laws covering party primaries.

5. A campaign spending cap of not more than two hundred and forty thousand Ghana cedis (Gh¢240,000.00) per candidate for the three month duration of the flagbearership contest.

6. There should be reporting requirements on spending, with candidates required to render monthly accounts to the Party during the period, beginning from a week after nomination forms are filed or nominations are opened. The first tier or round of voting, as initially proposed by the NEC and National Council, would see some 560 individuals convened in a Special Electoral College (SEC) to vote upon and thereby select three aspirants to go forward to the second round, in the event that more than three individuals filed valid nominations for the position of Presidential Candidate. Each delegate would have one vote.

In the second ‘tier’, an estimated 115,097 delegates would vote on the shortlist presented to them by the SEC to determine the Party’s Presidential Candidate. This proposed radical increase of the selectorate by about 4,919 percent to 115,000+ serves a fundamental purpose: to reduce the elitist and oligarchic tendencies of party politics and so transfer greater ownership of the party to its grassroots, based on the principle of inclusiveness. It may, for instance, mean that every one out of thirty nine people who voted for the Party’s Presidential Candidate in last year’s run-off will be a delegate in choosing the 2012 flagbearer. The party’s history with National Congress is such that two candidates usually break away from the pack. This further weakens the case for a definite number of three to be set to make the shortlist.

The voting patterns of previous NPP National Congresses since 1992 support the case for a percentage formula for a two-tier system. In none of the four previous presidential primaries did the third placed candidate receive 20 percent of delegates’ votes. Yet, a third candidate is being proposed to counter a perception that the party is split into two camps. But, is this exercise likely to do more than force an avoidable run-off, where a third candidate’s contribution may be little more than upping the nuisance factor? Apart from 1992, when J A Kufuor obtained 16.5 percent of delegates’ votes to place third, in no other contests did the second runner-up receive 7 percent or more of the votes.

In 1996, J A Kufuor and his runner-up (A Adu-Boahen) shared 87.59 percent of the delegates’ votes. With the third placed candidate, J H Mensah, obtaining 5.53 percent. In 1998, J A Kufuor and his runner-up (N Akufo-Addo) earned the endorsement of 96.24 percent of the delegates, with the second runner-up, Dr K K Apraku, getting 2.82 percent.

In 2007, N Akufo-Addo and Alan Kyeremanten, who came second, shared 80.27 percent of the votes, with the other 15 candidates sharing the remaining 19.73 percent. Aliu Mahama, who came third received 6.39 percent.

This means that to ask for a shortlist of three could lead to an unnecessary run-off, which could lead more aggrieved persons in its wake against what the proposals intend to reduce. A better option, in our view is to demand a candidate to receive the prior endorsement of only 20 percent of the leading officers of the Party before qualifying for the shortlist of presidential nominees.

Indeed, based on the NPP congress precedent, as stated above, it can be argued that if at the SEC level rather than putting a determinate automatic cap, say two as in the proposed amendments, on the number of candidates for the shortlist, a requirement percentage of 20% of the SEC vote is set for a candidate to obtain in order to qualify for the shortlist, not more than two candidates are likely to qualify. There is also another useful reason for considering this option. It is recalled, that the NPP primary system for selecting parliamentary candidates cost the party dearly in disunity, apathy, independent candidates, as the grassroots felt a small group of delegates ignored candidates that were otherwise popular. If the party puts a blanket, automatic cap, this could potentially lead to a re-visitation of those grievances, if not properly managed and the sound reasons for the shortlist properly explained to the grassroots. This is because there could be five candidates with similar attributes who may also be perceived to command similar party support, so an automatic cap of two or three could be seen as unfair, if the percentage share of votes between the last qualified candidate and some of the others who failed to qualify is very marginal.

ADVERTISEMENT

For example, there may be a situation where before the Special Electoral College, Candidate A gets 6%, Candidate B gets 46%, Candidate C gets 6%, Candidate D gets 7%, Candidate E gets 5%, and Candidate F gets 28%. Candidate B, with 46%, will be a clear candidate for the shortlist of 3. B will be joined by F (28%) and D (7%). But, would that be seen as fair to Candidates A, C and E, who received marginally less than D, with 6%, 6% and 5%, respectively? Would it be fair for the SEC to be forced to exclude the others because there is a pre-determined shortlist of 3?

It is argued that a less difficult solution is to demand that each candidate must be able to command a certain percentage of the SEC vote. This would, in theory, mean an indeterminate number of shortlisted candidates before candidates sign up. Yet, this would automatically ensure that only a certain number of serious candidates will contest.

This option has the potential of increasing the shortlisted candidates to more than two or reducing it to one. It may be proposed thus: A candidate shall receive not less than 20 percent of votes of the Special Electoral College to qualify for the shortlist. This automatically reduces the number of eligible candidates to an arithmetically possible but highly improbable number of five shortlisted candidates. While it is probable for this option to produce three candidates for the shortlist, the record of NPP congress voting pattern suggests that not more than two candidates are likely to emerge from this process. In 1996, 1998 and 2007, if this option was used, only two candidates would have obtained the mandatory 25% share of the delegates’ vote.

FIGURE 1:

1992 Congress

Number of Delegates: 1,998

Candidate No. Of Votes Percentage

Albert Adu Boahen 1,121 56.6

Dr. Dsane Selby 343 17.3

J.A Kufuor 326 16.5

Dr. Safo-Adu 149 7.5

J.A Addison 32 1.6

John Kwame Koduah 9 0.5

ADVERTISEMENT

Peter Ala Adjetey Withdrew

FIGURE 2:

1996 Congress

Number of Delegates: 1,996

Candidate No. Of Votes Percentage J.A Kufuor 1,034 51.99

Albert Adu-Boahen 710 35.70

J.H Mensah 110 5.53

Dr. Jones Ofori-Atta 69 3.47

Dr. Kwame Safo Adu 42 2.11

Dr. Dsane Selby 24 1.21

FIGURE 3:

1998 Congress

Number of delegates: 1,993

ADVERTISEMENT

Candidate No. Of Votes Percentage

John Agyekum Kufuor 1,286 64.6

Nana Akufo-Addo 628 31.64

Kofi Apraku 52 2.82

Mr Kwame Kodua 8 0.44

Malik Alhassan Yakubu 7 0.35

Joseph Henry Mensah 3 0.15

FIGURE 4:

2008 congress Number of Delegates: 2,293 Candidate No. of Votes Percentage Nana Akufo-Addo 1,096 47.97

Mr Alan Kyerematen 738 32.30

Alhaji Aliu Mahama 146 6.39

Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo 63 2.76

Mr Daniel Kweku Botwe 52 2.28

Papa Owusu Ankomah 34 1.49

Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyeman 28 1.23

Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor 22 0.96

Professor Mike Oquaye 20 0.88

Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey 20 0.88

Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku 19 0.83

Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng 12 0.53

Mr Boakye Kyeremanteng Agyarko 10 0.44

Mr Felix Kwesi Owusu-Adjapong 9 0.39

Mr Kwabena Agyepong 9 0.39

Dr Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah 6 0.26

Dr Kobina Arthur Kennedy 1 0.04

Source: --