In 1992, the National Democratic Congress, NDC, was established. The NDC was transformed from a revolutionary government of The Provisional National Defence Council, PNDC, to continue its political and development agenda for Ghana. As stated in Article 6 of the NDC Constitution, the Party was established on “the vision and leadership of His Excellency, Jerry John Rawlings” with its foundational values and principles as probity, accountability, equity, solidarity and social justice. Though these are universal social democratic and good governance principles and practices, the NDC had to transit from its military and socialist revolutionary character of development organisation to an ideological political party and identity in 2002 and the political ideology adopted by the NDC is Social Democracy.
However, since the adoption of Social Democratic values in 2002, it took NDC fifteen years to birth an ideological institute on August 10, 2017. The ideological institute intends to shape and provide a clearly defined direction to NDC’s political activities and governance.
Social Democracy is a considerable modification of the exploitative capitalist free market system. The primary intent of Social Democracy is to direct policy into ensuring social and economic equilibrium. It focuses on egalitarian principles, such as equality of opportunity, social security and participation in decision making. Social Democracy thrives on a dynamic and responsive principle that is constant at preventing disruption to the balance of policy and government.
Social Democracy system is nexus of eight principle-threads.
1. It believes and promotes disadvantaged majority to acquire power through democratic means and use power to progressively reform capitalism. It resists a governance construction that leads to totalitarianism.
2. It promotes free enterprise that encourages private initiative and achievement with the State retaining the prerogative to define policy context of economic activities that creates channels for socially desirable outcomes. Maintenance of order, macroeconomic stability, equitable education and training for all, facilitation of employment creation and investment in infrastructure assume State responsibility.
3. Social Democracy abhors and prevents dictatorship of the market. It promotes private ownership as the means of production with State moderation to prevent and reduce concentration of monopolistic conglomerates in order to encourage competition.
4. Social Democracy acknowledges the central role of the market to regulate the allocation of resources and distribution of goods and services. However, it has a protective mechanism for workers to intervene to set minimum wage for certain category of workers and in some cases, fix the prices of essential commodities and cut out price fluctuation.
5. Equality of Opportunities in the spirit of “all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.” Social Democracy seeks to reduce income inequality to the level that will not undermine returns on investment by the private sector. It infuses regulatory measures to determine the extent to which economic power can be exercised by using instruments of taxation to redistribute undue accruals by the rich. It also institutes other equity measures such as regional equalization policies, subsidies, equal education for all, consumer protection and credit facilities.
6. In order to prevent the less-gifted and under privileged from descending into destitution due to State encouraged competition and achievement, social democratic systems ensure social security interventions for the aged among others. Some of such policies reflect in social interventions like unemployment insurance, compulsory pension schemes, health insurance schemes, social housing and institutional care.
7. Industrial harmony principle guides operations of Social Democratic systems. It holds in check excessive exercise of employer power by encouraging the formation of trade unions, formulating laws to protect workers by providing acceptable working conditions and from arbitrary dismissals.
8. Social Democratic systems are ardent in encouraging technological innovation. Social Democratic system recognized that deployment of technology innovation makes national economies more efficient and competitive in international markets. Social Democracy is conscious of technology induced redundancies and therefore adopts policies mainly to retrain and provide jobs so as to maintain social and economic balance.
Reference Basics On Social Democracy, 2 edition. William Ahadzie (PhD)
Why Ghana Institute of Social Democracy, GISD?
A political Party serves as a carrier for modern day society’s principles, values, history and culture. Education is therefore critical in shaping, directing, and reinforcing the structure, leadership, government, the workings of the political community and society at large.
The primary aim of GISD is to provide Social Democratic ideological education, training and equipping the political workforce with abilities and capacities to become active partners in the development of their community, nation, and the continent. The institute will serve as a nucleus of ideological education and research centre for the NDC and its leadership at all levels will be mandated to attend. In future, it will become one of the criteria for membership and office. Its sole purpose is to achieve unification of NDC leadership and the support of the masses in achieving mutually beneficial and collective objectives.
GISD is necessitated as a result of the shortcomings of members, activists, executives and appointees understanding of Social Democratic values and principles and therefore, find it extremely difficult to promote and defend NDC’s policy decisions cogently from an ideological perspective. This denies the electorates the understanding and acceptance that is required in order to support and defend NDC government policies and implementation.
The drawback of ideological grounding over the years has also resulted, in some cases, into manifesto promises and policy implementations that were at variance and in conflict with the social democratic values the NDC subscribes to and has led to a disconnect between Party/government and the masses.
The absence of the ideological institute has, in addition, denied the NDC the ideological pool of identifiable members from which a structured and consistent appointment and election of ideologically astute office holders within the party could have been made. This, in turn, led to capricious appointment of office holders which further gave birth to personality cults, factions and divisions within the ranks of NDC.
GISD has developed a timeline that is intended to reverse these deficiencies by drawing on well developed programmes that will not only inculcate social democratic knowledge but also, an ideological habit and character. It shall do this by drawing on the large pool of intellectuals within the NDC and international resource persons from sister political parties across the globe.
This, among others, will set an exciting future for NDC and secure the future growth of Ghana.
In subsequent submissions, I shall discuss the social democratic policy-programmes that the PNDC and NDC have implemented over the years which have become the foundational pillars upon which Ghana’s political and economic governance thrives. Nevertheless, policy-programmes that were at conflict with social democratic systems shall also be elucidated.
Source: Kofi B. KUKUBOR
The writer is a Governance and Policy Analyst and a member of the Administration Subcommittee of the GISD