Politics of Thursday, 22 January 2015
The Centre for Local Governance Advocacy (CLGA), a non-profit, non-sectarian organisation, which offers a platform for research, training, agenda setting, and advocacy; has advocated for the declaration of the local government election day, as a public holiday.
A statement issued by Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, CLGA Executive Director and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday, said the organization had followed with keen interest the dwindling nature of citizens’ participation in all six local level elections in Ghana since 1988/89 compared to other national level elections.
It said CLGA agrees with the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) on the need to whip up public enthusiasm and increased participation in the upcoming local level elections.
“It is the position of the CLGA that in order to give true meaning to Article 35(6)(d) of the 1992 constitution which states that ‘the State shall take appropriate measures to make democracy a reality by decentralizing the administrative and financial machinery of government to the regions and districts by affording all possible opportunities to the people to participate in decision-making at every level of national life and in government’ efforts must be made to promote voter participation in all local level elections.’
It observed that by this, popular participation in decision making and participatory democracy would be enhanced.
The statement said current efforts by the NCCE to use jingles and songs as well as that of the MLGRD to set up an inter-agency committee to whip up enthusiasm in the upcoming local level elections were commendable.
It said however, all the above efforts would not yield the needed results unless the current voter turnout gap in Ghana’s local level elections which stands at less than 30 per cent was increased.
It said: “To increase voter turnout for local elections to the level of other national elections that is Presidential and Parliamentary elections, the CLGA proposes that Government should declare the upcoming local government election day, a Public holiday to show national commitment to deepening local democracy.”
“By the above , CLGA strongly believe that voter turnout for the elections will increase in addition to creating opportunity for every qualified voter to exercise their franchise in choosing local leaders.”
It added that “CLGA is of the view that once the day is declared a holiday, voter turnout will increase, thereby deepening local democracy along the same lines as national democracy which the nation prides itself so much with”.
It said declaring March 3rd as public holiday for Ghana’s upcoming local level elections was one obvious way of showing national commitment to deepening decentralization, local democracy and popular participation in governance.