ndc and npp

One of the issues many people, especially party communicators are failing to bring to the perspectives shaping the debates and the discussion on the issues around the EC and its actions is the concept of  DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION and ENTRENCHMENT.

Democratic consolidation refers to the stability and  persistence of democracy and democratic principles. Consolidation and entrenchment means increased ‘instrumentalisation’ to the democratic framework.

Democratic consolidation is most understood as the act of achieving broad and deep legitimation, to the extent  that all significant political actors, at both the ‘government’ and ‘governed’ levels believe that  democracy and its rules, norms and conventions are the most appropriate and legitimate for the society.

So many of our contemporaries discuss the issues around the EC without really paying attention to the factors that ensures consolidation. We seem to think that an electoral body given discretionary power in the constitution can act without limitations placed on it in the same constitution. That discretionary power must be exercised within ‘software’ that forms the anatomy of the state.

We forget the power of administrative discretion given the EC is supposed to be guided by actions that would in the the long term ensure our peace and democratic consolidation, respect the sanctity of CHOICE, guarantee our liberty and contribute to democratic  entrenchment.

I would attempt to discuss these ‘software’ factors around democratic consolidation to add a more broadened understanding as to why there is agitation from many social actors and why the EC must be seen to be ensuring consolidation.

1. Norms, Certitudes and Conventions.

Every political system sustains itself through traditions, norms and conventions. These norms and conventions are what gives a democracy its spirit, breathing space, currency and its ‘vade mecum’. It is those norms and conventions that guarantee stability, predictability and dependency. Its those norms that subject political and social actors to due process and forge established proclivities for participants to act according to the dictates of law.

Under our 4th republic, we have tried to build conventions around policy formulation for example where almost all governments have used the time tested TRIPARTITE route to policy formulation involving government, minority in parliament and civil society organisations. This process to our policy making process is not a dictate of law, it’s a convention and norm we have collectively developed to ensure our policy making process is more involving and gives currency to the social contract of the government of the day. 

Another convention is the use of the Interparty Advisory Committee( IPAC) framework. The 4th republic has enjoyed this relative stability because of the smart convention of using the IPAC to listen to all political and social actors involved in our electoral process. IPAC as a  ‘filter’ has guaranteed that, each party to the process of an election is given a voice and their ideas are taken into account in designing the relevant processes, procedures and roadmaps for an election.

All the legitimacy given to the outcomes of all the elections in the 4th republic can be traced to that convention of openness, honesty, collaboration, accountability and transparency between all the actors in the electoral process through IPAC. Any electoral  commissioner who refuses to use that convention and fails to design another more appropriate method of building legitimacy is virtually throwing the electoral system into an abyss and putting it into a cockpit for violence and unnecessary legal pandemonium.

Unfortunately, the Jean Mensah led administration is not showing candor and acting in ways that seem to be disrespecting the ‘IPAC convention’ that has always served as the right and proper forum for giving the discretionary power of the EC its credence. The description of the NDC as a ‘threat to the democracy of Ghana’ by Dr. Bossman Asare, an important referee in the elections unfortunately has sent the wrong signals about their unwillingness to engage properly using IPAC and to forge a spirit of camaraderie, collaboration and transparency.

The drafting of the Constitutional instrument( CI) to guide the election was done without the convention or norm where all party representatives as well as civil society come together to draft it. These and many examples is what is creating the current tension in the country. The hard and unfortunate ‘pig-headed’ refusal of the EC chairperson to build on the established norms, conventions and certitudes only serves to derail rather than develop further the time tested processes that have always preceded our elections. Its incumbent on her to entrench our democracy using some of this conventions. 

2. Consensus and policy validation.

Another key feature of our elections is the idea of garnering consensus among all social actors and political actors.. It requires that, actors such as our chiefs, civil society organizations, citizens, labour, religious leaders, political parties, academia all in PRINCIPLE agree to the processes guiding our elections. Consensus is not only necessary, it is a dictate of common sense and accountability. Consensus is what brings about legitimacy and support for the EC. It is on the back of consensus that peace is guaranteed.

It is consensus that helps all actors to believe in the letter and spirit of what the EC is doing.  It is consensus that lays the groundwork for all to vouch for the credibility of the EC, the electoral outcome,  the country and its citizens.

Unfortunately, on this matter,  CSOs, National House of Chiefs, opposition parties, religious leaders and a large section of Ghanaians are not in support of the EC. This lack of absolute consensus for the EC for its actions is a wake up call for the commission to begin to reflect on its approach and to follow consensus in validating its actions. Consensus building is an inherent feature of democratic entrenchment. The EC chairperson must be seen to be forging consensus.

Democracy is a process. Election is an event. Stability, unity and peace is built on the back of accountable and transparent processes of election and those processes must be delivered on the back of consensus. Consensus delivers outcomes that cannot be disputed and those undisputed outcomes go a long way to facilitate the process of democratic consolidation and institutional growth.

The idea of ‘strong institutions’ is an idea built on the principle of consensus and the rule of law. Discretionary powers do not mean and must not mean the vitiation of common sense, preposterous intransigence and the abandonment of a dialogue of ‘quid pro quo’ with all actors.

She is an excellent legal brain. I love her work at the IEA. Her instrumental role in drafting the presidential transition act and her role in the presidential debates. I support her to succeed but she must be guided by the need for peace and stability.

Calogerus Ebenezer Tackie Teflondon

Founder of Conservative Policy Research Centre(CPRC)