Mon, Oct

Democracy is not only about numbers; rules too matter

Democracy is not only about numbers; it is also about rules, and events leading up to the 2016 elections have reinforced that principle.

That notwithstanding, at the onset when the Electoral Commission (EC), led by Mrs Charlotte Osei, sought to apply the rules for the operation of political parties, especially the provision that states that political parties must have representation in at least two-thirds of the districts, there was so much hullabaloo.

When it relaxed on that provision, some said it was treating the political parties with kid gloves. 

But Article 7 of the 1992 Constitution states: “For purposes of registration, a prospective political party shall furnish the Electoral Commission with a copy of its constitution and the names and addresses of its national officers: and (b) shall satisfy the commission that the party has branches in all the regions of Ghana and is, in addition, organised in not less than two-thirds of the districts of each region.”

However, after the EC decided to apply the rules that ensure qualification as presidential candidates after 17 political party and individual candidates had filed their nominations, there has been a backlash.

While some of the disqualified aspirants have indicated that they will be going to court over their disqualification, others have raised questions about the legitimacy of their disqualification.

Some have also accused the EC of double standards and not playing by the rules, but the political umpire insists that it has played by the rules.

With only 56 days to Election Day, most people fear that the matter of disqualification will drag on in court and result in a constitutional crisis.

But we do not expect the matter to create a constitutional crisis. Matters like this are sometimes not won at the law courts but through dialogue and negotiations. 

That is why we believe that although the issues appear to be emotive, the aspirants can still dialogue to reach an understanding with the EC.

If the rules had been applied to the letter in the past, the contest for the highest office of the land would not look like a free-for-all in which a group of people who come together as a political party show no physical evidence of their activities but quickly parade their presidential aspirants.

Now some of these people think they are a force to reckon with and so how dare the EC to disqualify them! There are useful lessons for all the stakeholders in the political game to learn from the mass disqualification. 

Going forward, the EC should apply the law to the letter and the political parties must also play by the rules. When that happens, there will be no looming constitutional crisis.

Be that as it may, the Daily Graphic thinks that something must be done to ensure harmony on the political landscape, so that the dark clouds will be cleared for us to march on without hindrance towards December 7 and beyond.