General News of Saturday, 17 March 2018
Laws on political party financing in Ghana must be enforced rigorously as a way of helping improve on citizens’ understandings of electoral politics in the country, the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), has said.
A report co-produced by CDD-Ghana and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) dubbed: ‘The Cost of Politics in Ghana’, noted that: “What is clear is that to enter into public office requires significant capital relative to the average income of most Ghanaians. Another 59% rise between 2016 and 2020 would see average campaign expenditure rise to GH?618,000 providing a significant obstacle to entry and entrenching the idea that politics is a domain for the elite in society.
“Measures are needed to strengthen and better enforce existing party financing regulation as set out in Article 55 (14-25) of the 1992 Constitution and to continuously improve citizen understandings of electoral politics.”
The report further indicated that: “A growing disillusionment with politics in Ghana, even from those active in it, is a key theme that emerged from the WFD/CDD report. Heightened cynicism around the idea that political processes can deliver citizen led change is increasingly making political campaigns an ‘auction of votes to the highest bidder’ and less about competing visions for the future of the country. This phenomenon is not isolated to Ghanaian politics, but it does raise concerns about the long-term prospects of its democratic system.
“To address these negative trends WFD and CDD Ghana recommends the following measures: Initiation of a national dialogue among political parties, electoral institutions, and civil society to deliberate on the impact of money on politics and the expectations citizens and politicians have in terms of its regulation; More rigorous enforcement of existing political party finance legislation; Further efforts, through both formal and informal channels, to increase the transparency of election spending, including requiring candidates and parties to be more open about the costs they incur.
“A return to the discussion about state funding for political parties; Greater engagement with citizens about the negative implications of making direct financial demands on their MP; Further research to explore whether there is a collective action problem regarding change to the system and to look at ways in which candidates develop credibility beyond money, i.e. social capital; Further research into the intersection of political finance and the gender political representation gap in Ghanaian politics; Create greater clarity and differentiation between the party’s limitations, role and responsibilities and the individual candidate’s limitation, roles and responsibilities in campaign spend.
“Introduce practices and incentives that support parties to build loyal memberships and long term financial planning for elections (possibly linked to state funding); Provide guidance and protection for Ghanaian private sector to transparently support political parties with the Electoral Commission (EC); Support engagement between the EC, media and political parties to address the cost of media during elections.”