A survey conducted by the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) has revealed that 75% of the electorate will vote ‘Yes’ in the upcoming referendum.
Director of ILGS, Dr Nicholas Awortwi, in the presentation of the results, noted that this was encouraging since the referendum requires not less than 75% ‘Yes’ votes in order for government to proceed with the amendment process.
“The results show a lot of hope for the ‘Yes’ campaigners with about four weeks to go,” he emphasised.
He added that “Ghanaians want to elect their own Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), however, they are in split if they want to elect based on party colours.”
A nationwide referendum will be conducted on December 17, 2019, to enable citizens to decide if an entrenched clause in the 1992 Constitution Article 55(3) needs to be amended to permit political parties in Ghana to participate in local government election.
A voter turnout of at least 40% and 75% ‘Yes’ votes are required to affirm the government’s desire to amend the Article 55(3) in the Constitution.
The poll focused on whether registered voters are aware of the referendum, understand the reason for the referendum, will participate and will vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
The Director of ILGS further indicated that the results could change since it was conducted before the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and House of Chiefs declared their position for a ‘No’ vote.
“The ILGS will conduct another survey to know the influence of NDC and the House of Chiefs’ declaration on voters,” he assured.
Dr Awotwi announced that although the awareness rate of voters was 66%, 54% understood the purpose of it.
He, therefore, suggested “there should be more campaigns on the rationale for the upcoming referendum since only 54% out of the 66% could explain it.”
The Director of ILGS expressed shock at the level of voter participation in the referendum in the Greater Accra region since it had the least percentage of 50% with Savanna region leading with 96% in the 16 regions and advised more focus on the nation’s capital.
According to him, the referendum plays a key role in Article 55(3) amendment process to allow political participation and power decentralisation in local governance.
He also commended the ILGS staff and sponsors for their unerring support.
The survey was conducted from November 6 to 11, 2019, among 6,550 out of the 16,845,364 electorate in the six metropolises, 18 municipalities and 20 districts (summing 44 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies) across the 16 regions in Ghana.
In an interview with Joy News, Principal Policy Analyst, Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Decentralisation, Gameli Hoedoafia, noted the level of awareness among women was not encouraging and media campaign must focus in that area.
“We need to do a lot more in terms of sensitisation because as you know, women are a key bloc in the country’s body politics. So it is very important that from this point forward, we are able to engage them better,” he suggested.
He further noted that a ‘Yes’ vote will be good for the country and will break the ‘winner-takes-all’ system in the country and promote local governance, independence and accountability to the people.
Citing an example, he said “imagine Convention People’s Party rules at the local government and New Patriotic Party at the central government, that means there has to be a give-and-take between the central and local government. One has to give power to the local government, so there will be better, stronger and forceful demands from the local level to the national level.”
He, however, advised the electorate to weigh the merits and demerits of the initiative to take their decision and not to vote based on what others are saying.