The Role of Political Parties in
A GNA Feature by Clemence Okumah
Accra, 29 June, GNA– Political parties have made invaluable
contributions to Ghana’s struggle for independence and the
promotion of democracy and good governance.
However, military interventions in party politics in the
country have intermittently stalled the activities of
Parliament, the Executive and Judiciary as well as political
But any time there is a programme to return to the country
to civilian rule, political parties are always the first to
resurrect to give the process a moving spirit as was
witnessed by activities leading to the establishment of the
Currently, the country is blessed with political parties of
varied ideologies whose leaders have acquired political
experiences spanning several decades.
Some of these political parties have drawn their inspiration
and philosophies from tested political traditions, some of
which have existed since pre-independence era.
For example, the Progress Party (PP) that ruled Ghana from
1969 to 1972 and the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) both
trace their roots to the United Gold Cost Convention (UGCC),
which was formed in 1946. The National Democratic Congress (NDC),
which can be considered as a hybrid party, claims to be of
the social democracy stock.
The Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the People’s
National Congress (PNC) trace their roots to the Convention
People’s Party (Nkrumaism), which was formed in 1949 and
governed the country since its independence in 1957 to 1966.
This rich background of political parties probably explains
why Ghana, unlike some other African countries, is finding
it easy in coping with the wave of democracy blowing across
Essentially, political parties are providing a fertile
ground for the advancement of the new political experiment
and giving impetus to the promotion of rule of law, good
governance and national development.
Undeniably, the political parties are serving as an
umbilical cord between society and the state, ordinary
citizens and social groups on the one hand, and organs of
government on the other hand.
The political parties provide psychological anchorage to
some Ghanaians as political rallies that are often
characterized by music and carnival throw supporters into
state of ecstasy and give them a sense of belonging.
So crucial is the contribution of political parties to the
country’s multiparty democracy that it would not be out of
place to describe them as the heart beat of the political
Even though the main function of Parliament is law making,
political parties operating inside and outside the House are
effectively serving as a check on the Executive, thereby
providing the political balance needed in a multi-party
Walter Bagehot, a prominent British political scientist,
gave credence to parties by saying: “Party organization is
the vital principle of a responsible government. There has
never been an election without party.”
Ghanaians rely very much on political parties for shaping
public opinion and gauging information and education on
government policies and programmes.
But despite the contributions of political parties to
national development, there is the need for them to
intensify efforts to improve the political system towards
The parties would be required to collaborate in their
efforts to sustain peace, unity and stability through
diversity of opinions to enable them to fulfil their
Political parties must always have recourse to the 1992
Constitution Article 55 (4), which enjoins them to foster
unity from diversity. Thus, they must ensure that they have
a national character and membership devoid of ethnic,
religious, regional or other sectional considerations.
Both the ruling political party and the minority parties are
obliged to collectively push the national development agenda
Managing the affairs of a country is not a technical issue
that can be handled by the wisest and best qualified people
in society alone.
No political party can claim to have an exclusive antidote
to the country’s socio-economic and political problems. The
ruling party must, therefore, accept suggestions from the
minority parties to promote good governance and national
On the other hand, minority parties are obliged to
constructively keep the ruling party on its toes, scrutinize
and criticize its policies and programme to help solve the
myriad socio-economic and political problems facing the
Political parties are expected to support vital state
institutions such as the Commission on Human Rights and
Administrative Justice, Electoral Commission, National
Commission for Civic Education, the police, and government
departments and agencies to carry out their functions
The role of political parties in ensuring probity,
accountability, transparency and preventing corruption,
especially among government officials, is a regular feature
of every democracy.
The fight against corruption, in particular, is difficult
and multifaceted and would require the collective efforts of
all political parties.
Political parties would be expected to demonstrate their
commitment to such a crusade by abiding by all laws
regarding their financial operations. Political parties are
reminded that they are required by the 1992 Constitution
article 55 (14) (a) to declare to the public their revenues
and assets and the sources of those revenues and assets.
Parties are also, according to article 55 (14) (b), “to
declare to the public annually their audited accounts and
only a citizen of Ghana may make a contribution or donation
to a political party registered in Ghana”.
Political parties should complement the efforts of the
National Commission for Civic Education in educating the
public on the rights and responsibilities of the citizenry
and the provisions of the 1992 Constitution.
This would help guide the people in all their activities to
ensure law and order and stability for a law-abiding and
hard-working population is a vital resource for peace and
It behoves political parties to ensure that their members
are disciplined, accountable and transparent in all their
activities since the parties are avenues for the training of
This is very essential because, in a democracy, political
parties have been a major vehicle for the recruitment of
political leadership, providing electoral choice and
peaceful political competition and framing of alternative
Despite the differences in ideology, policies and programmes,
political parties have the common goal of winning power to
govern the country. The 2008 Election will provide them with
such an opportunity.
As the campaign leading to polls intensifies, leaders,
members and supporters of political parties must demonstrate
to the whole world that multi-party system has come to stay.
They should avoid character assassination, insults,
inflammatory statements and violence that could undermine
the country’s democracy.
Political parties, despite the differences in policies,
ideologies and manifestoes, have the common objective of
ensuring peace, stability and unity for national
No single party has a magic wand to the country’s problems
and all parties would be expected to work as a team to
sustain and consolidate the country’s fledgling democracy
towards national development