Ghanaians rational in decision making — IEA survey

General News of Friday, 13 March 2015

Source: Graphic Online

Dr Ransford Gyampoh

A nationwide survey by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has established that Ghanaians were being rational in their choice and decision as to who to vote for in elections.

The IEA, in its recommendations said “there is an emerging tendency, from the survey, for Ghanaians to vote on the basis of programmes, calibre of candidates and less on ethnicity, religion and region of candidates, which is a good development.”

Generally, the IEA said, the factors that influenced voting could be broadly categorised into four, which are the rational factors, the sociological factors, the dominant ideology factor and the party identification factor.

The survey result indicated that 79.1 per cent of Ghanaians said the relevance of political party programmes of action and ideology were determinants of their preferences in an election, saying those two variables shaped their voting preferences.

The socio-economic and governance survey was undertaken by the IEA between June and July, 2014. It sampled the views of 1,200 households across the 10 regions of the country.

At a press conference to disseminate the results of the findings of the survey, a Senior Fellow at the IEA, Dr Ransford Gyampo, said for qualification and competence of presidential candidates, 77 percent indicated that they would consider them as important determinants of voting.

“Again, experience and past records of presidential candidates also mattered to a good number of respondents (67.2 percent), while almost 60 per cent highlighted the importance of personal qualities of presidential candidates as determinants of their voter preferences,” Dr Gyampo said.

The survey showed that political party identification seemed to also play a major role in determining voting in Ghana as 59.1 percent of respondents indicated that their voting was shaped by the party of the candidates and not necessarily the core issues they stood for.

Sociological factors such as gender (28 percent), ethnicity (25.5 percent), religion (24.8 percent) and region (21 percent) played a less significant role in determining voting in Ghana compared to the other factors that influenced voting.

Another component of the survey established that generally, most Ghanaians felt they were free to say what they thought, associate freely and participate in the democratic processes.

Dr Gyampo said, “about 80 percent of the respondents feel they are free to say what they think. Differences in this perception between rural and urban areas and males and females are statistically insignificant.”

He said there was a very high sense of freedom of association, registration as a voter and also voting, adding that “virtually everyone (95 per cent of respondents) feel they are free to join any political party” and that an equal number felt they were free to vote.

“Approximately 92 percent of the respondents voted in the 2012 presidential elections. Unsurprisingly, more rural residents (94.3 percent) voted as against 89.3 per cent in the urban areas. Generally, Ghanaians are politically alive and free,” Mr Gyampo said.

Public safety

On public safety, the survey said Ghanaians felt reasonably safe within their neighbourhoods with levels of feeling safe higher in more rural areas.

“Our results indicate that more than seven out of every 10 persons (74.3 percent) reported that they felt safe walking in the neighbourhood during the day or during the night. More persons in the Upper West Region (88.4 percent), Brong Ahafo Region (80.4 percent) and Northern Region (80.2 percent) felt safe walking in the neighbourhood during the day or the night,” the survey reported.

Dr Gyampo said it was not surprising that more males (79.6 percent) than females (71.1 percent) felt safe walking in the neighbourhood during the day or night.

On the rural and urban front, 81.4 percent of the rural persons felt safe walking in the neighbourhood during the day or night as compared to their urban counterparts (69.8 percent).