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Opinions of Monday, 1 May 2017

Columnist: Andrews Krow

Is one term presidency becoming the new phenomenon?

Goodluck Jonathan lost his second term attempt to the current President Gen Buhari,Joyce Banda lost her attempt in Malawi and John Dramani Mahama lost to Nana Akufo-Addo in his second term attempt.

Two parties the NPP and NDC have dominated the political space since 1992 it will therefore not be out of place describing the Ghanaian system as two party system and is product of two factors,the electoral system,and the fact that tribal based parties each have a body of seats where their position ranges from very secure to just winnable in a good year.

Political pundits, pedestrians, party faithfuls, executives,activists are still discussing the results of the last elections to find out why the NDC lost or what contributed to the victory of the NDC.

Apart from the common reasons activists continue to enumerate,we must also consider other factors the traditional politician fail to factor in his survey work which is general behaviour of the voter,the reasons for changes in voting behaviour. Using the Ghanaian as my yardstick in doing this political mathematics, I can confidently say the average African voter is becoming sophisticated and discerning.

We are still facing the "tribal" challenge but recent results on the continent of Africa suggest that change in social status of the people as described by income,environment and even religion affect decisions of most voters.

Gradually the voting trend in our cities and towns appears to becoming a function of social status. It is becoming more about the individual's own desires and beliefs than sticking and adhering to established party lines.The rural-urban drift is also affecting our voting pattern,people's political consciousness increase everyday because of common access to information through the various media platforms including social media and other sources.

In Ghana the two dominant parties continue to enjoy massive support from their strongholds because of the strong ethic attachment and historical backgrounds but results recorded in these strongholds in the just ended elections should always remind the parties that the dynamics are changing.People mention the results to support their arguments without taking time to critically analyse the trend using past results.

Using the result as one's core reasons in determining who wins or losses the 2020 elections is unscientific,and dangerous. How many votes did the parties add to their old stock, where did they drop,why the drop,are there possibilities of them surging up their votes in 2020,etc etc.We shall go deeply into that but for now, let's stay on the selected topic.

I see the one term presidency becoming part of our global politics.

Aftermath reaction by citizens in countries where changes were effected recently,confirms this assertion. Donald Trump,addressing Americans on his 100 days in office courageously told them he didn't know the job is a difficult one and comments and reactions by the America public suggest lost of hope in the new administration despite the efforts by Trump and his administration to impress the America people.

Nigerians have started calling for the exit of the man they claimed was coming to perform magic.Some have started pushing for the return of Goodluck and reacting desperately to the emerging sentiments, some bigwigs in Buhari's party have started pushing for Vice President Osinbajo to replace his boss.

One of my friends in the academia said John Mahama who is seen as a potential threat to the incumbent President cannot win the 2020 election if elected by the NDC because of the defeat he suffered and the fact that he was the incumbent.

I quickly referred him to the case of Grover Cleveland who was the 22nd and 24th President of the United States.He served as President from 1885 to 1889 he lost his bid for reelection after his first term to Benjamin Harrison but returned to win the next attempt to serve from 1893 to 1897.Apart from the few technical issues and malpractices recorded,John Mahama lost the elections due to factors recorded as reasons for Cleveland's failure to win his second straight attempt and he is remembered for making this profound statement "what is the use of being elected or reelected unless you stand for something".

The case of Matthieu Kerekou is another example I asked him to consider.Kerekou also lost because of the austerity measures he was forced to introduced as a result of the negotiations he entered into with some Breton wood institutions.

Our needs are changing ,our wants becoming more insatiable,our middle income lifestyle has changed our attitude towards nature and technology and introduction of more middle income products give us variety of options to choose from,our youth want to experiment with everything around them, dynamics in global trade keep on changing everyday all these factors contribute to the emerging voting trend and changes in our voting behaviour.

This the reason why technocrats always advise politicians to desist from playing political chess game with certain strategic issues such as electricity, oil,galamsey etc.Looking at the growing demand for electricity, fuel, gas, etc,if will forever be unwise to play political political games with these issues for political advantage. Governance has become a very difficult task because of the masses current mental chemistry, insatiable demand for certain amenities and other effects on the economy emanating from the globe.

America has had many one term Presidents such as George Bush Snr,Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford,Herbert Hoover,William Howard Taft, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, Martin Van Buren,John Adams and if you analyse factors contributing to their inability to win their second term bid,you will notice one common reason which is,economic recession and in the case of Jimmy Carter,the Iran versus America issue added to his woes.Cleveland recaptured power after losing his second bid because of how his party quickly recovered from the defeat to expose certain reckless decisions Benjamin and his Republican government took.

Our leaders are beginning to feel the realities.The period when politicians could daze the masses with sweet platitudes only to do different things upon assumption into office is past and buried and that is the reason why John Mahama will defy all odds to state his sincerest position on the trainees allowance,Nana Addo will shift from his campaign promise about galamsey, will shift from his earlier plan for his free SHS,will disappoint the spare parts dealers, will not recklessly reduce utility tariffs etc.Unprecedented in the annals of our 4th Republican politics, the new administration is losing public confidence in the administration, the goodwill it enjoyed has dropped sharply,demonstrations have began,ministers have started making reckless statement because of pressure being exerted on them these are sign of the changing times and will continue to haunt all regimes.

I foresee changes in Ghana and Nigeria in their next elections and I foresee the trend repeat itself subsequently if politicians do not device effective strategy to meet the changing dynamics. The Npp will however win the 2020 election if NDC fails to present a formidable team, good campaign message and well organised and tested candidate. The NDC will find it difficult ousting the Npp if it allows the NPP to infiltrate its camp.Elections is about strategic calculations and effective monitoring the incumbent may fail,may lose public confidence but if the opposition also fail to organise itself properly, apathy acting as the third force, can change the envisaged result.