General News of Tuesday, 23 June 2015
The outgoing United States Ambassador to Ghana, Gene A. Cretz, has asked the country to reconsider the ‘Winner-Takes-All’ political system which he believes mars the West African country’s democratic credentials.
The system involves the capture of all levels of political power and the control of all public resources by the winner of a national election. It typically involves a complete marginalisation of opposition political forces from the governance process.
Many Ghanaians have expressed concerns about the winner-takes-all Politics. It has been identified as one of the main factors responsible for the growing polarisation of the Ghanaian society and the politicisation of issues of national importance that require consensus.
The Institute of Economic Affairs in 2014 led a campaign which sought to bring political players to restructure the system to the benefit of the maginalised.
Speaking to journalists at his last roundtable press engagement held at the United States Embassy in Accra on Tuesday June 23, 2015, Cretz said the system must be changed to the benefit of the country.
“I think that on the electoral side of political reforms, at some point, there would have to be some progress made in, not doing away with, but in modifying what is the winner takes all system. I think it really impacts on the compromise and the ability of give and take in a democracy”
He referred Ghana to the United States of America who have stabilised their winner-takes-all rules, a move he said has made the process of drafting and voting on legislation less complicated.
“At least in our country, the give and take really is the basis of policy”.
According to him, the system, if not modified will continue to create high stakes during elections, which may lead to heightened tensions risking national insecurity.
“ It’s made more difficult when the system is under the winner takes all because the only incentive the opposition has is to get back into power and then the power – that – is – in power, wants to stay in power and I’m not sure that is the healthiest combination for a stable and enduring democracy.
“So I think if Ghana is able to, in effect, get to the next stage of democratic evolution and find a way to modify that,” he remarked.
He also said he hopes Ghana is able to run safe elections in the future.
“Take a look at the electoral campaign mechanism itself; What was the problem last time, take a look at it and make sure that during this election that you don’t have this charge and counter charge which really kind of diminishes the incredible importance and prestige that Ghana shows to the world when it has an election”.
Gene A. Cretz was nominated by United States president, Barack Obama, on April 11, 2012 to be the Ambassador of the United States to Ghana.
His appointment was confirmed by the Senate on August 2, 2012 and sworn in by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on September 11, 2012.
He has served in Ghana for three years and has now been reassigned to other duties in the USA.