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Opinions of Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Columnist: Sammy Poku

Who should partner Mahama for 2020?

With John Mahama yet to settle on a running mate for 2020, the big question still remains who? With John Mahama yet to settle on a running mate for 2020, the big question still remains who?

Speculations for the choice of a vice presidential candidate in the NDC is rampant especially after their parliamentary primaries. Media reports have detailed a wide array of options available to John Mahama as he decides who will be his number two for his campaign and perhaps for the next four years to come. The selection of the running mate will become one of the most covered stories of any presidential cycle. It will send the clearest message of the campaign about the presidential candidate as a decision maker.

Although voters appear unlikely to determine their presidential votes on whom they would rather see as vice president, vice presidential selection may play a meaningful role in shaping how voters think about the presidential candidates.

The running mate has an influence on presidential vote choice. Ghanaian voters choose between presidential tickets, and not just presidential candidates. That’s why presidential running mate has some level of influence on voters, albeit small relative to the presidential candidates. This means a vice presidential candidate may strengthen or weaken overall evaluations of the ticket to the extent that he or she is very appealing or very unappealing to voters.

It is impossible to find one person in the NDC who combines within his or heritage, personality, and experience all the virtues cherished by the Ghanaian voters, the NDC must console themselves by attempting to confect themselves out of the several potential running mates a composite image of forward-looking social democrat, energetic-wise leadership that evokes regional, ethnic and party loyalty among the maximum number of voters.

Who will John Mahama pick as his running mate depends on the ability of that person to serve as a president in the event of unforeseen circumstances such the president’s incapacitation,

But in choosing the running mate, the party king makers must consider whether the running mate will help or hurt the presidential ticket with votes in general or key interest groups especially regional and ethnic groupings. The NDC is at a competitive disadvantage because it is in opposition. NDC must therefore look for a running mate who will be a game changer.

From the balancing perspective, there is no single set of desiderata. The ideal choice depends on the characteristics of John Mahama. It follows that for the NDC to ensure a balancing ticket, it must not just concentrate on the characteristics of the potential running mate, but on how these relate to the presidential candidate.

One of the characteristics must be the region from where the running mate comes from. The electoral advantage most commonly associated with vice presidential candidates is region or geographic. They are expected to deliver their home regions. Running mates are also used to reinforce party cohesion.

Since the John Mahama is from the North, his running mate must not come from the north. By convention, his running mate must come from the South and the South is not only Akans. In the search for a candidate from the North, the late professor Mills first chose Mr Martin Amidu, Northerner as his running mate in the 2000 elections and lost. Mr. Amidu is a Builsa from the Upper East region. In 2004 GE, the same Professor Mills chose Mr. Mohammed Mumuni, a Dagomba from the Northern region and lost. And in 2008 GE, John Mahma, Gonja from Northern region (now Savannah Region) was chosen to partner Professor Mills, and this time the NDC won.

Analysts believe that the low turnout in the Volta region and parts of the greater Accra region contributed the defeat of the NDC in the 2016 general election (GE16). In the event the NDC fails to get a strong running mate from either the Greater Accra or Volta region, the results of GE20 may not be different from GE16.

Currently, the leadership of the NDC is dominated by the Akans. The National Chairman, the General Secretary, the Organiser, the Women’s organiser are all Akans. Choosing an Akan running mate would reinforce the speculations that the Gas and Ewes are being taken for granted by the NDC.

Such a choice must be a grassroots person who should capable of attracting votes from all the ethnic groups in the south. The northern voters in the south must be comfortable with such a choice.

The choice of a running mate for the NDC must be strategic and must not necessarily choose their running mate to be in the same line with that of the NPP (Akan/Northerner). The NDC must look beyond the Northern/Akan ticket and broaden the search to Northerner/Southerner ticket. Preferably, the southerner must come from either Greater Accra or the Volta region.