Forum Advocates Coalition Government System

Naa Dr Ernest songsore

Naa Dr. Ernest Songsor Tulong I, making a contribution at the forum.

A regional forum to discuss ways of addressing the negative effects of the “Winner-Takes-All” political system, has called for the adoption of a coalition government system to ensure all-inclusive governance in the country.

According to the forum, adoption of a coalition governance system in the Constitution, would ensure that human resources from all political parties were harnessed for national development, adding that a coalition could be established instead of wasting resources for a second round of elections where there happens to be no outright winner.

The present winner takes all system, the forum agreed, has been retrogressive and the main cause of the high level of partisanship and disunity in the country.

The participants at the forum, which was organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) at Tamale yesterday as part of its anti Winner-Takes-All (WTA) campaign to solicit views for inputs on the WTA into the constitution review process, included representatives of political parties, civil society, women, teachers and business groups, traditional leaders and regional security chiefs from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.

It had the theme, “Rethinking Ghana’s Winner-Takes-All system,” and it is the first in the series of consultative fora being organised by the IEA.

The participants were of the view that through a coalition government, members of parties that loose elections would have the opportunity in be considered to serve, since appointment would then be based on merit, and not necessarily on party affiliation.

In addition, the forum noted that because opposition parties tend to offer more ideas, it would be better to add them to the governance structure to galvanise all ideas for nation building.

The forum noted that the current situation where the winner of an election, neglected other parties who may also have garnered large number of votes, was not the best.

Although there was consensus on the call for a coalition government, some of the participants also suggested that proportional representation system, where parties would be allocated positions depending on the percentage of votes they gain at the elections, could also be considered.

According to the proponents, institutional leadership and ambassadorial positions among others, could be allocated to other parties, indicating that there was a need to  review the appointing powers of the President to enjoin him or her to appoint people outside the ruling party to positions that are deemed not to be sensitive.

In addition, some of the participants believed that a coalition government would not work without a concise national development plan.

According to them, with the availability of such a development plan, parties would build their manifestos towards implementing the plan, and not to pursue their separate ideologies.

Naa Dr. Ernest Songsor Tulong I, Vice President of the Nandom Traditional Council, contributing, lauded the objective of the forum, indicating that the WTA menace needed to be urgently addressed to prevent it from eroding the gains made by the country’s democracy.

He also suggested that the governance system should be modeled after the chieftaincy system which promotes peace, unity and all-inclusiveness.

“A government has the duty to promote peace and unity, and these can be learnt from the chieftaincy system,” he stressed.

However, a few of the participants  feared the coalition system would not work for Ghana, indicating that it has its shortfalls.

For instance, Mr. Bede Ziedeng, Upper West Regional Minister, noted that although the WTA has its negatives, there were positives which needed to be consolidated.

He traced the genesis of WTA to post revolution era when Ghanaians craved for it with the coming into force of the 1992 Constitution, adding that it had worked for 22 years.

“We have to diagnose the system properly to know what the challenges are and how to address them. Let us do more dialoguing,” he said.

But Dr. William Ahiadze, a member of the WTA Advisory Committee, indicated that there was a need to address difficulties that had been identified with the Constitution of which the majority of Ghanaian agree.

“The way forward is find ways of establishing a stable political system devoid of the tensions and acrimony we are currently experiencing in the country,” he said.

Justice Francis Emile Short, a former Chairman of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice and member of the Advisory Committee, in  a presentation to open the discussions, was optimistic that the outcome of the discussions would feed into the proposals of the constitutional amendment.

He said the Advisory Committee was of the view that Ghana could develop a customised variant of the coalition government system to address the nation’s democratic challenges.

That way, he said, the problems associated with power sharing could be avoided should Ghanaians decide to adopt that system.

Dr. Ransford Gyampo, Research Fellow of the IEA, giving the welcome address, said although there was general consensus on the negative effects and dangers of the WTA system, some politicians, both in government and opposition, “seem indifferent and are not too keen on changing the status quo because of the advantages it gives to those who hold political power.”

In view of the need to consult and mobilise views for solutions, he said the IEA set up the nine member Advisory Committee to undertake broad consultations to develop proposals for the constitution review, since the current proposals for constitutional amendment did not touch on the WTA issue.  From Edmund Mingle, Tamale

 

 

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