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Feature Article of Monday, 12 November 2012

Columnist: Odei-Bosompem, Austin

Will The Outcome Of US Elections Show How Ghana's Elections Will Go?

With President Barack Obama winning a second term as US President, I foresee "some people" using it as a basis to predict the outcome of Ghana's election in December. Does Ghana follow the pace set by the US during elections? Well, the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 elections seem to suggest so “ elections in both countries since 1992 have gone the ˜same way".

In 1992 and 1996, President Clinton of the Democratic Party won the US elections. Ghanaians also elected President Rawlings of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in both instances. There was a change in administration in 2000 in the US with the Republicans coming to power. The Republicans retained power in 2004. This scenario also played out in Ghana with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) coming into power in 2000 and retaining power in 2004. The tables turned again in 2008 with both the Democrats (in US) and the NDC (in Ghana) coming back to power after eight years in the ˜wilderness".

But let those who would like to jump into conclusion be reminded that there is another ‘trend’ that could play out. The first US President to die in office was President William H. Harrison. He was succeeded by his Vice, President John Tyler. The first US president to succeed to the office of the President after the death of the incumbent lost the subsequent election. Will this also play out in Ghana? Besides being called ‘John’, President Tyler was the first US President to be born after the adoption of the Constitution. Have we had our first President born after our Independence and also called John? President John Mahama, who became President after the death in office of President Atta-Mills, fits the bill.

Furthermore, John Tyler, prior to becoming Vice President under President Harrison, had been a member of House of Representatives (Parliament) three times. Does that one too apply in our circumstance? Yes, President Mahama has been a three-term Member of Parliament for the Bole-Bamboi Constituency.

In recent American political history, any party that has had its sitting President challenged in a party primary has lost the general elections. In 1976, President Gerald Ford of the Republican Party was challenged in the Republican primaries by Ronald Reagan. Even though President Ford beat Reagan, the Republican Party lost the general elections. Then in 1980, President Jimmy Carter of the Democratic Party was challenged by Senator Edward Kennedy. Here again, though Jimmy Carter won the primaries, the Democrats lost the national elections.

Finally, in 1992, President George H. W. Bush (Sr.) was challenged by Pat Buchanan. Bush Sr. won the contest but lost the general elections to President Bill Clinton. For the first time in our political history, a ruling party had an internal contest to elect its candidate (though Prof Mills is no more, the outcome of that contest has been negative in terms of party cohesion). Can we then conclude that in our case the ruling party is going to lose the elections because there was an internal contest and because John Tyler was not re-elected after his 'boss' passed away? That would smack of arm-chair political analysis. Again, the incidence of the outcome of our elections mirroring that of the US since 1992 is a mere coincidence. This year’s election will be won by a party that has the policies and programmes to move our country forward; a party that Ghanaians can trust to deliver its manifesto; a party that has a candidate who is not tainted by corruption and abuse of office; and above all, a party that believes in the rule of law and committed to upholding our individual freedoms. Crucially, the party that is able to motivate its supporters to come out and vote.

Well, for those who still believe in the US- Ghana electoral similarities, I have this for you. The last three US Presidents have visited Ghana – President Clinton in March 1998, President Bush in February 2008 and then President Obama in July 2009. After President Clinton’s visit, the ruling party lost the next elections (i.e. NDC in 2000). After President Bush’s visit, the ruling party in Ghana lost the next election (i.e. NPP in 2008).

Now, with President Obama visiting in 2009, will the ruling party (NDC) lose the next elections?

Odei-Bosompem Austin 0244780589 austin_odei@yahoo.com

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