Discussants at a Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) forum to discuss a research report dubbed: “How voters select their Members of Parliaments (MPs)” have called for the need for the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to come up with strategies in educating the public about the roles and the functions of MPs.
According to them, the move would go a long way to help shape the understanding of voters regarding the functions and role of MPs and also aid them to properly choose their MPs.
The discussants, MP for North Tongu, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, a senior Political Science lecturer at the University of Ghana (UG), Dr Isaac Owusu Mensah and an Associate of the CDD-Ghana, Dr George Kwaku Ofosu, made the call after research findings revealed the criteria voters used to decide who they voted for in elections.
The research revealed that Ghanaian voters were twice as much likely to vote for parliamentary candidates who provided infrastructural development than those who promised financial support to individuals.
According to the research conducted by Dr Ofosu, another key indicator that determined which candidate the citizens would vote for was a candidate who was ready to organise regular community meetings to listen to the concerns of the people and also debrief them on parliamentary issues.
The research also showed that candidates who offered to attend or financially support social events, including funerals, religious events and traditional festivals or help deal with government bureaucracy or secure state employment for their people were more likely to be voted for than those who did not.
Conducted between November and December 2018, the research provides a systematic analysis of which of the different types of constituency services influenced voters’ choice and whether the effects differed by partisanship and electoral setting.
The results of the research showed that some constituency services were more important to voters than others.
Expressing his viewpoint on the findings, Mr Ablakwa said the research had revealed the need for the NCCE and political parties to take it as one of its major goals in educating the public about the activities of MPs.
He said many at times, the voting people placed so much responsibilities on the shoulders of MPs when it was not entirely up to them to determine certain key development projects in the community.
Mr Ablakwa mentioned that the MPs Common Fund, which is woefully inadequate, had been one of the reasons most MPs lost their seat because the people expected them to use the GH¢160,000 assigned to fund for numerous development projects.
Dr Mensah, who also called for special attention on voter education, however, stressed the need for parliamentary candidates to check the level of promises they gave during elections.
He said one of the ways MPs incurred the wrath of citizens during election “is their failure to honour the promises given prior to voting”.
In his earlier presentation, Dr Ofosu said legislators devoted a significant share of their time to provide various services to constituents in their districts, including engaging in casework and holding meetings.
Dr Ofosu said the results indicated that some constituency services were more important to voters than others, adding that voters also needed to be properly educated on the functions of MPs.