IEA Begins Nationwide Consultation On Winner-Takes-All System

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Winner Takes All (WTA) Advisory Committee has begun its nationwide public consultation on the winner-takes-all system of government in Tamale. The forum, which was on the theme ‘Rethinking Ghana’s Winner-Takes-All System,’ was attended by civil society organisations, security personnel, leaders of the various political parties, and other members of the public drawn from the three northern regions. Dr Ransford Gyampo, a research fellow at IEA, in his welcome address, said even though the winner-takes-all system has been practised in Ghana since the beginning of the Fourth Republican Constitution, it has come with some challenges. He mentioned some of the challenges as the polarisation of Ghana’s body politic, including the politicisation of critical issues of national importance that require consensus. He said even though there seemed to be some consensus about the divisive effects and dangers of the winner-takes-all system, several politicians, both in power and opposition, appeared indifferent and were not too keen on changing the status quo, because of the advantages political power holders enjoy. Dr Gyampo said the constitutional review process was also coming to an end with no serious attention given to the practice of the system and how its hydra-headed manifestations and divisive effects could be tackled to the full. “The IEA, as part of its commitment to consolidating Ghana’s democracy, has therefore established an 11-member Advisory Committee under the Chairmanship of Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle to re-examine the practice of the winner-takes-all politics, oversee the conduct of a nationwide public consultation, and propose recommendations for reform with the hope that these may be fed into the nation’s ongoing constitution review process,” he said. Justice Emile Short, a member of the IEA-WTA Advisory Committee, said factors such as the power of the executive president, initiation of bills in Parliament, governance at the district level, powers of Parliament and the electoral formula all contribute to promote the winners-takes-all system. He, therefore, proposed a proportional representation in Parliament and adoption of a power-sharing system, with respect to appointments, among others. Mr Bede Ziedeng, the out-going Upper West Regional Minister, commended IEA for the initiative and called for further dialogue on the matter. The participants generally agreed that the winner-takes-all system needed to be abolished after practising it for over 20 years, as it has become a mechanism for political discrimination, marginalisation and sabotage. The participants, therefore, called on the Constitutional Review Commission to accept the opinion of the public, by abolishing the winner-takes-all system, especially as it is going through a review process.