2020 GENERAL ELECTION: THE MESSENGER AND THE MESSAGE

Published on 16 Aug, 2020.


Ghana would be going to the polls in a few days and as elections draw closer, tensions heighten. The main contenders from the two leading political parties are not new to the political landscape as this will be the third time they are going head-to-head. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) would field H.E Nana Akufo-Addo for the 4th time and the National Democratic Congress’ flagbearer, John Mahama would carry their torch for the 3rd time. All candidates have been to every region to campaign and share their respective messages after the launch of their manifestos. There are a number of factors that would influence a voter’s choice but in this article we would examine the two main candidates and their messages (manifesto).

Scholars have not unanimously agreed on the impact of manifesto on election outcome. Whilst some studies have posited that manifestos have little influence on the electorate in Ghana (Frempong 2001; Asante 2006; Gyimah-Boadi & Debrah 2008), others acknowledge the importance of manifestos on the Ghanaian electorate (Ayee 2002, 2008; Boafo-Arthur 2006). Ethnicity, political party, personality of the candidates and track records have been the reason certain electorates vote a certain way. Nevertheless, manifestos remain the work plan of the winning party. It gives the electorates the chance to have a fair idea of what to expect. The 2020 election is unique because the electorates would not only consider what the candidates intend to do but will pay attention to their trustworthiness on fulfilling campaign promises vis-à-vis what they have both done when they occupied the office.

With the 2020 election, electorates are much more focused on the ability of candidates to fulfil promises than the promise in its self. A number of polls have sought to examine both feasibility of manifestos and the trust the electorates have in the candidates to fulfill them. In the UG Political Science Poll, 37.3% believe the NDC manifesto is realistic while 32.84% are of the view their manifesto is only meant to get votes. On the other hand, 55% of respondents were confident in the NPP’s ability to deliver on campaign promises. For CDD report, 50% of respondent are confident that the NDC candidate is capable of fulfilling his promises against 47% who think otherwise. Again, 58% believe the NDC manifesto is feasible. For the NPP, 69% of respondents trust the feasibility of their manifesto while 65% believe in their ability to deliver.

The average Ghanaian voter is very well informed and like the UG Poll posited,35.8% will vote based on policies and 23.8% will vote based on the content of campaign messages. Though we admit other factors influence the Ghanaian voters, both political parties have come to the realization that a considerable number of voters will examine what they intend to do and hence the effort they put into coming up with a manifesto. The NPP had a 10-member manifesto committee and the NDC, 19.

Analysts have agreed that this year’s polls unlike earlier ones in the Fourth Republic would be determined more by the people’s assessment of issues surrounding ability to deliver on what the candidates are saying which has pushed the NPP to tout their achievements in the last four years vis a vis their manifesto while the NDC has also gone on a promising spree after consulting the people in drafting their “people’s manifesto”. The final decision is however five days away and the eyes of the world are on Ghana.

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