A study conducted by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has indicated that Ghanaians are twice as much likely to vote for parliamentary candidates who provide infrastructural development than those who promise financial support to individuals.
In a release detailing its findings, CDD-Ghana said it emerged that in competitive constituencies, such infrastructural promises work whether or not a candidate and the voter belong to the same political party, whereas in non-competitive constituencies, this pledge only influences voters who belong to the candidate’s party.
Conducted in November-December, 2018, the study provides a systematic analysis of which of the different types of constituency service influence voters’ choice and whether the effects differ by partisanship and electoral setting.
Equally important to voters is the commitment of candidates to regularly organize community meetings to listen to their concerns and debrief them on parliamentary debates.
The research also shows that candidates who offer to attend or financially support social events (funerals, religious events, and traditional festivals), or help deal with government bureaucracy or secure state employment are more likely to be voted for than those who do not.
“The candidates’ profession has no effect on their chances of being selected. Hailing and living in the constituency is more preferable and both female and male candidates are equally preferred.”
Key findings from CDD’s report
Generally, citizens prefer candidates who will provide local public goods (infrastructure) almost twice as much as they like compared to those who promise to give financial support to individuals.
Citizens were about more likely to choose a candidate who pledged to spend the majority of the MPs Common Fund on public infrastructure compared to one who plans to use only a little (or none) of the fund for this purpose.
In contrast, voters were only 7 percentage points more likely to pick a politician who committed to spending the majority of their funds to provide private benefits compared to one who plans to use.
Other priorities of electorates
While some citizens are more likely to vote for candidates who say they will organize regular community meetings every month, others were more likely to vote for those who promise to organize meetings every three or six months.
The probability that citizens select a candidate as MP, decreases to about 6 percentage points when the aspirant promises only yearly meetings.
Candidates who promise to sometimes (half of the time) or always help constituents in dealing with the government bureaucracy or finding state employment are 7.2 and 10.2 percentage points more likely to be preferred compared to those who will hardly do so, on average, respectively.
Attending or financially supporting social events such as funerals, religious services, traditional festivals and naming ceremonies influences vote choice; compared to those who promise to hardly attend social events, those who offer to attend half of the time or always are 4.2 and 7.8 percentage points more likely to be selected, respectively.
The study, conducted by George K. Ofosu, PhD. CDD-Ghana Associate, in November – December, 2018 uses a forced choice conjoint survey experiment, with a sample of over 2000 citizens located in 12 nationally representative constituencies.
The respondents are asked to choose between two hypothetical candidates contesting for parliamentary elections in their constituencies with a set of attributes.
The values of each attribute that a respondent see is random, which helps to estimate causal effects.