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Opinions of Sunday, 21 September 2014

Columnist: Amarh, Richard Nii

Any hope for a third force in Ghana?


For almost two decades, Ghana was under the PNDC/NDC regime which at its inception was embraced because of its promise to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich. Soon after its operation the reality dawn on Ghanaians that this regime was not going to be able to achieve the utopian promise of making the poor equal with the rich in the society. However, the military government had entrenched itself through intimidation and dictatorial tactics coupled with the Charismatic personality of their leader which appealed to the many masses who loved him. Gradually, the military junta agreed to a new constitution which became enforceable after January 3, 1993 after a general election in the previous year which was participated by various political parties at the time.

It is sad to say that although Ghana attained independence status in 1957, multiparty democracy started making gains in Ghana after a long period of political instability and military gymnastics. Even though many international observers criticised the first elections in 1992, the confidence in our multiparty democracy continued to rise after the 1996 elections and then to the 2000 elections which saw a smooth transition of one regime to another.

We have had this democracy for more than two decades now and we are still counting. The hope is that our democracy will advance and become a very formidable one like that of the USA, UK, France or Germany. The question now is; are we practicing a multiparty democracy where all political parties have a real chance of exercising governmental control or we are just exercising a two party system where only two political parties have a real chance to control government? It is the hope of this writer that the later is not the case since we have made so much noise about our multi party democracy. But it needs to be emphasized that any society that wishes to remain free needs to ensure that its citizens are well educated, not only in the theory, but also in the practice, of democracy.

Most political analysts and forecasters in Ghana today have said that Ghana is effectively a two party state and that no third party can have the chance of forming a government unless all the so-called smaller political parties come together. They quickly site examples of the UK and the USA and buttress their point with the fact that only the NPP and NDC have been able to win the presidency in this forth republic. Their assertions look real because, a plethora of political parties have been formed in this country and many of them have not performed too well in national elections. In fact parties like the National Reform Party, the Democratic People’s Party, Democratic Freedom Party, United Ghana Movement, Ghana Freedom Party, Reformed Patriotic Democrats and the likes have even collapsed and yet their names still remain in the electoral register of Ghana. These situations tend to support the fact that Ghana may not see a third political party that can rub shoulders with the NDC and NPP.

It is completely out of place for anyone to accept this kind of assertion. The evidence in the history of the USA and the UK does not show that they have always had the current political parties since the beginning of their democracy. In fact in the USA when they began their democracy, different parties other than the current Democratic Party and the Republic party dominated the political scene. Parties such as the Whig Party, the Federalist Party have all had the opportunity at some point to rule in the USA. It is even on record that both Presidents George Washington (1789-1797) and John Tylor (1841-1845) won the Presidency as independent candidates in the USA. Therefore one can easily demystify the reference often made by some political analysts to the USA democracy in an attempt to buttress their point that only the NDC and NPP are capable of winning political power in Ghana when the actual history is cited.
Indeed, many of the political parties that have been formed in our forth republic apart from the two have proved to be either unserious or not resilient enough to withstand the dynamics of the game. It is however very gratifying to note that a new political wind is blowing which is showing different signs and characteristics. Unlike the earlier parties, this new party has shown demonstrable ability and intentions to stay in the Ghanaian political scene for a long time to come.

Formed within ten months to the 2012 general elections in Ghana, the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), managed to secure a little above 64,000 of the entire votes cast for their presidential candidate and about 130,000 votes for all of its parliamentary candidates.
Although these figures are not too large in terms of the percentage of figures of the entire votes, it is rather evidential of a huge political force in waiting for the following reasons:
1. The PPP was the brand new party in 2012
2. It managed to beat 5 other political parties which were in existence before the formation of the PPP.
3. PPP presidential candidate and many of its parliamentary candidates placed third in the 2012 elections.
4. The PPP has not folded up after the 2012 General elections but has proffered a number of reforms for the country.

The observation of many Ghanaians is that, most political parties are active only during election but they extinct as soon as elections are over. They are often centred around an individual or a few national figures on whose command the party survives.
In the case of the PPP, the general view was that it was all about Dr. Nduom. Some critiques called the PPP names like Paa Kwesi’s Personal Property and others. Today, I do not see a Paa Kwesi property but the People’s Popular Party. A party with intelligent and exceptional personalities in the likes of Nana Owusu Ofori, Felix Willam Ograh Esq, Nii Allotey Brew Hammond, Mary Ankomah Boakye Boateng, Kofi Asamoah-Siaw, Charles Owusu, Divine Nkrumah, Alhaji Murtala Kwame, Murtala Mohammed, Paa Kow Ackon, Prince Kobina Okyere, Dennis Ofosuappea Esq, William Dowokpor, Dr. Theophilous Kwofie, Victoria Armah, Doreen Manieson, Ruth Quaye, Berlinda Bulley, Linda Sey, Rebecca Agbogah, Nana Boadi, Robert Anamolga, Frederick Anyan and many other faces who continually bring life to the PPP.

Again, unlike many other new parties which come into the scene without any clearly defined Objective, the PPP has been very consistent about its reformed agenda. The message of the PPP has not changed since it was formed. The PPP has been persistent on the separation of the office of the minister of justice from that of the Attorney General in order to enable effective prosecution of corrupt officials through the establishment of an independent prosecutor. The PPP has never failed in using every opportunity to ask for the direct election of MMDCE’s in order to promote grassroots participation in the development drive of the country. It has been consistent in asking for the clear separation of parliament from the executive to ensure strict separation of powers and checks and balances.

As our young democracy continues to thrive, we shall continue to make choices that will give us results whether desirable or not. It is very important that we examine the choices we make and assess its effect on us individually and collectively. This is a wakeup call to all Ghananains. Young people must not accept a two party state. There is a third credible option.

Richard Nii Amarh