Election manifestos are important documents, but very little is known about the way parties create their manifestos and how they use them. Parties draft election manifestos for several reasons. First, by summarizing their position on and emphasis of various policy issues parties provide serve them to base their voting decision.
Electoral manifestos also play a crucial role in visions of party democracy and political science analyses of party competition. Parties fight elections rallying behind a manifesto, laying down policy priorities and positions, and a team of leaders committed to them. The victorious party takes government office and implements its policy program. I am happy the former President (His Excellency former president John Mahama) has started engaging professional bodies, experts and the business community. In the subsequent election, voters including members of the professional bodies will not only judge parties according to their policy programs for the next term in office, but also retrospectively, focusing on government’s performance and scrutinising if parties have kept their promises.
I have always asking myself when party candidates will consider manifestos relevant with regard to the function widely attributed to these documents. I expect that individual characteristics of candidates, manifesto properties, and party characteristics impact how party candidates attribute functions to the manifesto.
Election manifestos are often taken lightly but it seems the John Mahama’s team are determined to restore sanctity. What kind of country people want and what is their suggestion. The former President’s approach will help in reaching out to them to seek their views.
Manifestos are unlikely to disappear from party’s campaign, but there should be more independent scrutiny of manifestos: arm length bodies that are formally independent of government such as the Ghana Medical Association, Ghana Bar Association, Ghana Journalists Association should be tasked with producing detailed assessments of each party’s manifesto to assist public debate. This is what the former President has initiated. That might help voters and professional bodies digest the information they need before voting and help voters in particular make informed choices.
Rev Emmanuel Atuahene