Multiparty democracy, 12 candidates for Election 2020, and voting machines

Multiparty democracy is expensive, but it provides for a depth of electoral competition that must be offered only to political parties worth their salt

A multiparty democracy connotes the existence of more than two political parties, with more or less equal political strength, such that in any major electoral contestation it becomes difficult for only one party to win a clear majority of votes without the support of other political parties.

This is the true definition of a multiparty democracy. Until political parties in Ghana strive to achieve this, the clearance by the Electoral Commission of as many as 12 candidates to be on the national ballot paper will not only create confusion in voter selection during voting, but will also amount to a waste of space on the ballot paper.

Multiparty democracy is expensive, I agree. But the space it provides for electoral contestation must be given only to political parties worth their salt, not election machines.

If only one party can win an election without the support of any other political party, then we are not a true multiparty democracy. The space for electoral contestation in a true multiparty democracy can only be given to political parties that also function in the inter-election period, as agents of interest aggregation, agents of interest articulation, agents of political socialisation, agents of leadership grooming, agents for shaping the political destinies and socio-economic well-being of Ghana, as well as agents that offer constructive criticism that keeps regimes on their toes to do the right thing.

A political group that surfaces only during elections and goes to sleep afterwards, only to be heard when there is another election, is not a political party, but an election machine.

Beyond the machine

Until political parties accept this blunt truth, and be strategic in what they crave for; and until the Electoral Commission rigidly enforces our electoral laws as they apply to political parties in the inter-election period, or in between election seasons, Ghana may remain duopolistic.

This may endure for a long time, particularly when partisan realignment is rare in transitional democracies such as Ghana.

It is only a true multiparty democracy that can have as many as 12 candidates on a ballot paper in an electoral contest.

As we grow our democracy, our Electoral Commission must move beyond its narrow focus on elections, and activate its other regulatory functions of ensuring that only political parties exist and operate in the body politic, and not election machines.

Professor Yaw Gyampo
A31, Prabiw, P A V Ansah Street

Suro Nipa House
Kubease, Larteh-Akuapim

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