General News of Monday, 29 October 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Election 2012: 4 swing regions to decide

The voting pattern in four out of the country's 10 regions is expected to determine the verdict of the people in the December general election.

The voting trend in the Greater Accra, Brong Ahafo, Central and the Western regions indicate that voters in these regions hold the key to victory for any political party.

Since 2000, the fortunes of the two main political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), have changed in these four regions.

The NDC has, since democratic governance in 1992, always won the Volta Region, consider as its 'World Bank', and the three Northern regions. This situation is not likely to change in this year's elections.

For its part, the NPP has always won the Ashanti Region, regarded as its 'World Bank', and the Eastern region which may not alter this year.

Pundits think the campaign strategies of the four political parties with representation in Parliament-the NDC, the NPP, the People's National Convention (PNC) and the Convention People's Party (CPP)-in the Western Region this year are likely to determine how the people of that region will vote.

The Western region is considered a swing region and the strategic importance of the Western region in the upcoming elections is not far fetched.

Last week, the flag bearers of three of the parties, President John Mahama of the NDC, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the NPP and Dr. Abu Sakara of the CPP, stormed the region to canvass for votes.

The three candidates set the Western region agog with rallies, door-to-door campaigns, political party meetings and courtesy calls on some prominent chiefs in the region.

One way to predict the future is to look into the past, since, many a time, events move in cycles.

During the run off in the 2000 elections, the NDC obtained 229,978 votes from the Western region, representing 39.90 per cent, while the NPP garnered 358,138 or 60.90 per cent.

That same year, in the parliamentary elections, the NDC had 10 seats; the NPP eight and the CPP one.

In 2004, the NPP, which won the general election, had 463,990 votes or 56. 64 per cent of the presidential votes cast in the Western region; the NDC had 334. 992 or 40. 89 per cent and the CPP 13, 224 or 1.62 per cent.

For the parliamentary elections, the NPP won 12 seats, the NDC eight and the CPP two. In the 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections, the NDC had 414,44 of the presidential votes, representing 31. 89 per cent; the NPP fell to 384, 028 or 48.11 per cent and the CPP had 32,590 or 3.91 per cent.

In the parliamentary elections, the NDC had 11 seats, the NPP had 10 and the CPP one.

In the Central region, during the first round of the 2000 elections, the NDC got 237,227 or 43.7 per cent of the presidential votes, while the NPP got 314, 501 or 50.5 per cent.

In 2004, the NPP garnered 414, 399 votes (58.57 per cent), while the NDC got 277,433 (39.21 per cent).

Election 2008 saw the NDC wining the Central Region with 53. 80 per cent of the votes cast, while the NPP got 46. 20 per cent.

With Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom making a claim to the presidential diadem, it is difficult to determine the preference of voters in the Central region, the home of the candidate of the Progressive People's Party (PPP), in the December elections.

Whatever influence Dr. Nduom have in the Central region can be offset by the fact that the area is also the home region of the Vice President, Mr. Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, who appears to have focused more attention in the Central and Western regions, knowing their strategic importance for the outcome of the December elections.

In the Brong Ahafo region in the 2000 elections, the NDC had 270,465 votes, representing 44. 06 per cent, while the NPP won with 306, 512 votes or 50. 06 per cent.

In 2004, the NPP obtained 396 461 votes or 51. 96 per cent, while the NDC had 351, 384 votes or 46. 05 per cent.

In 2008, the NDC obtained 408, 029 votes or 51. 50 per cent, while the NPP got 384, 237 votes or 48. 50 per cent.

From the voting trend, the Greater Accra region continues to portray itself as a swing region.

In the 2000 elections, the NDC garnered 467,017 0r 42. 7 per cent, while the NPP got 574, 737 votes in the region.

In 2004, the NPP still won in the Greater Accra with 910,159 votes or 51. 99 per cent while the NDC got 811 votes or 46. 37 per cent.

In 2008, however, the NDC toppled the NPP from the number one spot in the region, bagging 953,086 0r 54. 41 per cent, while the NPP got 789, 556 0r 45. 59 per cent.

In the Eastern region, although the NPP has won there in the last two elections, its fortunes have dwindled in terms of actual numbers.

In 2004, the NPP won with 554, 933 votes, representing 60. 27 per cent of the votes, while the NDC had 353, 356 votes or 38.8 per cent.

In 2008, the NPP had 536,366 votes, which was 18, 567 votes less than what it obtained in 2004. In percentage terms, however, the 57. 51 per cent it gained represented an increase. The NDC had 353, 356 votes or 38. 38 per cent in 2004, but in 2008 it gained on the numbers with 396, 227 votes and in the percentage terms with 42. 49 per cent.

Realising the possibility of the Western region becoming the most decisive region in the 2012 elections, Dr. Sakara, last Monday, stormed the regional capital, Takoradi.

He began his activities with a courtesy call on the Omanhen of the Essikado Traditional Area, Nana Kobia Nketsia V.

He also granted live studio interviews to three radio stations and held closed-door-meetings with party executives to come up with strategies on how to ensure that residents of the region cast their ballots for the party on December 7.

President Mahama also addressed a rally at Sefwi-Wiaso, where he gave an assurance that he would not reply any insults directed at his person by his political opponents.

He said the elections were not about who could insult the most and that Ghanaians were only looking for people with integrity and ability to develop the country.

In all, President Mahama addressed five rallies in five different towns in the region.

Nana Akufo-Addo was also in the Western region and, as of last Thursday, he had visited eight different towns within the Tarkwa Nsuem Constituency with his message of free senior high school education and a reform of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) his first four year term in office.

Seven political parties have filed to contest this year's Presidential elections. They are the NDC, the NPP, the CPP, the PNC, the PPP, the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and the United Front Party (UFP).

While the PPP in particular seems to be quite active and visible on the campaign trail, the pundits believe that party, together with the GCPP, the UFP and the independent presidential candidate, Mr. Jacob Osei Yeboah, is not likely to cause any stir this year.

But in the event of a run off, these minor parties are likely to become the king makers.