The Super Delegates get the first say
Super delegates of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) are convening across 17 voting centres nationwide to prune the number of candidates vying to be flag bearer from 10 to five.
The top five will then compete in the main primary (November 4, 2023) by which time the larger electoral college will elect the party’s flag bearer for the 2024 elections. In the lead up to the 2016 election, the first step in this two-step process sent the clearest singnal that the party still preferred President Akufo-Addo as their candidate. What signal will the super delegates send this time? Before I answer let me first share a few thoughts on this system for selecting party a flag bearer.
The Super Delegate system
Political parties have the prerogative to decide the rules that govern how they conduct the business of the party. I, therefore, have no qualms with the party deciding to use a two-step process in choosing a flag bearer.
However, I am a big advocate of an open primary system where all registered members of the party vote to select both parliamentary and presidential candidates for an upcoming election. The hue and cry over the influence of delegates, allegations of inducements, and the narrative that primary season is “cocoa season” for delegates I believe can be solved by using an open primary system.
Open primaries also limit the undue influence of delegates and increases the cost of the inducements often alleged. It is my contention that it is easier to induce a few than it is an entire constituency or all registered members of the party. I also strongly believe that an open primary strengthens intra-party democracy by allowing members to have a greater voice in the affairs of their political party. It is something I hope our two main parties will embrace someday.
Which 5 get the nod?
But the rules are the rules and super delegates will get the first say today. As a political observer, I will be watching keenly for a few signals – a) who emerges the winner and the margin of victory; b) who emerges in the top five and the margins between them; c) the margins between the top three candidates; d) the total vote share of those who do not emerge in top five; and e) the performance of the top five candidates from each of the 17 polling centres nationwide.
I am no soothsayer and cannot predict with certainty which five will get the nod of super delegates. I also do not have the benefit of the results of a scientific poll of super delegates that allows me to gauge the mood of super delegates and what they are likely to do.
All I am left with is my knowledge of the candidates as active participants in the politics of the party, observations from the campaign trail, and the rhetoric of various party voices in public spaces. Based on that, and in no particular order, I believe the following four will emerge in the top five at the end of super delegates conference.
Ken Agyapong. I affectionally call him “the establishment’s anti-establishment candidate”. Although very much an establishment politician his history of lashing out at the establishment including his own party makes his candidacy interesting. The super delegates I am sure appreciate his vociferous defence of the party and treatment of their political opponents.
Alan Kyerematen. I sometimes feel like he is the heir apparent who “chance may still not crown king” when the party primary is finally settled. As I wrote in the past, the “it is my turn” argument would have worked brilliantly but for the entry of Dr Bawumia into the party. Also, his share of votes in party primaries has been on a downward trajectory since 2007. Let’s wait and see what the super delegates think.
Kwabena Agyei Agyepong. An intriguing campaign to follow, especially his willingness to highlight where the party has fallen short over the last seven years. I am still curious whether the events that led to his ouster as general secretary will have a residual effect on the thinking of super delegates.
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the current vice-president, will emerge in the top five and probably emerge the winner of the super delegates conference. In my opinion he is the party establishment’s preference. To his credit, he has worked hard to build roots and endeared himself to many in the party. I will be surprised if the super delegates do not respond positively.
Whoever wins the super delegate conference will surely have momentum on his side going into the main primary in November. Those who get to vote in November may be waiting for signals from the super delegates.
Best of luck to all the candidates.