Issues Political Parties must consider when choosing their Candidates

In choosing our Presidential candidates,we must have in mind that we are choosing a leader who is going to be a representative of the country on all critical international occasions and must provide a leadership which, besides being of one political character, has a broader national aspect and must be a candidate who runs ahead of his party in all opinion polls in that a larger percentage of people approve of his conduct than say they would vote for his party at an immediate election. Our intra-party dynamics shouldn’t be the only factor to be considered when electing a candidate to represent the party in elections. We have enough stock of examples to guide us in our intra-party contests and must utilize fully these examples to ensure smooth running of our intra-party issues.

A candidates influence in the party and his capacity to add to the party’s electoral appeal.When a party is in acute internal difficulties,there is the tendency to place more emphasis on the capacity to comfort the party faithful,to epitomize the values or outlook of the party.When such matters are less important and electoral victory is a primary consideration, some executives and parties bigwigs think more of the external image that appeal, a factor which aided the current President. In opposition, the target must be having a candidate who appeals to the public,who either occupies more of the ground between the parties or who,in some sense, seems to rise above the purely party level in his appeal.

The behaviour pattern of the electorates must also be considered seriously when settling on who leads a party.The public takes stands on current issues, though whether this affects their voting depends on the depth of their feeling and the degree of which one party is regarded as for one solution and the other party as against and I pointed out this analogy in one of my earlier write-ups. Social media is gradually changing our intra-party communication dynamics, increase in awareness and activists coming closer to internal party issues also changing the general outlook of parties. The NPP in opposition benefited and at the same time suffered serious internal clashes because of social media proliferation and the NDC has started experiencing same. Social media political activism is strengthening parties communication dynamics but at the same time exposing the parties to certain dangers alien to our politics. The era where few political big hands will sit somewhere to decide the fate of our parties is dead and buried but if this open type of party activism is not regulated, parties will suffer serious hitches which could affect their image and electoral fortunes.

In our part of the world, it takes time for voters or the masses in general to become familiar with candidates and their ideals,selling a candidate to the electors takes time and demands a lot of sacrifice and strategies. This is because of how our politics is structured and the common dynamics we know such as, the tribal dynamics, religious considerations, etc. This notwithstanding, performance of the incumbent is another core issue worth considering. The persona of Candidate Kufour and the Rawlings fatigue contributed to the NPP’s success in the 2000 elections. His ability to pull some of the political forces into the middle line through his calm demeanor and convincing pronouncements contributed to his success. He had his huge political record supporting him and enjoyed the needed support from his party folks who were united solidly against the Rawlings factor.

Prof Mills enjoyed certain aspects of the factors enumerated above.Consistency contributed to his victory.His partnership with John Mahama also contributed significantly to his victory. John came in as a compromise candidate whose chief characteristics in the public eye was his embodiment of the traditional NDC outlook and virtues.

Candidate after losing his first attempt came back to take the mantle because of the image he carried. Others would argue that he wasn’t the incumbent and I expect those who may be arguing against the return of John Mahama but that analogy is debatable. It is debatable because the Npp after losing to 1992 Presidential election,boycotted the parliamentary elections and went on to write the Stolen verdict and insisted that Adu Boahene won that election meaning the went into the 1996 elections as “Shadow” incumbent. In the 1996 election Rawlings got 4,095,758 of the popular votes representing 57.45% against 2,834,878 representing 39.7% for Kufour so averagely it wrong for anyone to describe the recent defeat of the NDC as the worst of all defeats in our fourth republic presidential elections.

Nurturing a candidate is not as easy as others perceive,it takes time and needs huge resources,sacrifice and commitment. Ghanaians are still used to the traditional way of making choices when it comes to elections especially at the Presidential level hence the need to thread carefully when making such calculations. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo ventured the political arena with huge political and professional image and added spirit of endurance to his personal attributes and traits these attributes were too huge for his internal opponents to outwit.His party once again rallied around him to fight the Mahama factors and did that with dexterity.He strategically worked on the conscience of Ghanaians through the petition and how he accepted the ruling by the supreme Court. The usual sympathy game was cleverly played and usual of Ghanaians, the “let’s try him” phenomenon was applied fully.

There were other moderates and non partisan voters who wanted to see how the man who has been around for all these while, will perform when given the nod. Apart from the platitudes and the usual propaganda, these factors also contributed to the success of the NPP in the last elections.In a country where a voter will openly tell you I will surely vote against a particular party no matter how excellent it performs, where a whole family resolves to vote a particular direction, where a particular tribe settles on a particular party, where radio stations position themselves against a particular party,where chunk of the voters in the rural enclave survive on stipends sent them by city dwellers etc,you don’t base your election projections on sophisticated theories, you must always do your projections based on realities around.

INTERNATIONAL CONNECTIONS AND THEIR SUCCESSION PLANS

We turn to focus more on our local political enclave and many still operate using the utopian approach.The international connection used to be the East and West connection depending on the ideological dispositions of the parties but the dynamics are changing with time.It is no more about the UP enjoying perfect relationship with the Republicans or conservatives neither is it the centre-left enjoying cordial relationship with other Western Socialist organisations or the Soviet Union (Russia) the international link is now within West Africa and the truth is that all the political godfathers of our political leaders are in Nigeria.It began from Jerry Rawlings’s time but has taken different shape this time. Kufour at a point shifted allegiance from his Japanese friends to the Nigerians and has become the new convention.

The current  President also received same support from his Nigerian godfathers on and on.All the parties needs candidates who command huge image in the subregion and other international platforms. The issue about succession is another important one we must factor into all permutations.Some of the people we describe as potential candidates are not as potent as we assume they may appeal to hardliners in our parties but cannot make any meaningful impact when brought for trial at the public court.Some of them have the wherewithal but need to go through the mill to attract the needed attention and this what I see in the NDC now.The opportunity to groom a successor or,get into its pool some new potential leaders is now and must use the Vice Presidential candidate slot to execute this operation instead of the emerging struggle.

Per the dynamics enumerated, it is going to difficult for anybody to defeat John Mahama that is the reality the target must be on who partner him for the next election that is,if he decides to contest for the slot.Strategically some may use their attempt to push for recognition to partner him but the party must still look beyond such common tricks and look at the bigger picture. Its must consider increasing its votes at areas it considers its no go area and can do that easily because of its record in terms of infrastructure which is visible.

Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow

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