Strengthening Developmental Political Parties in Africa
Political parties in Ghana, and indeed in Africa, have played an important role in maintaining the stability and legitimacy of Ghana’s multi-party system. They have become institutional mechanisms for the transition to democracy. They have supported the electoral process and have accepted defeat where they should. Despite the risks, the Fourth Republic is the most stable political regime in Ghana’s political history. Political parties have also championed citizens’ participation by mobilizing, recruiting and creating opportunities for participation in governance. While political parties in Africa have succeeded in performing their political functions, they have lagged behind in carrying out their developmental functions. They have not been able to articulate, aggregate social interest to significantly influence policies by way of devising programmes and supervising policy implementation. Their weak capacity to formulate policies for development can be attributed to the lack of functional policy and research departments. Political Parties in Africa mobilize heavily around election campaigns and winning elections, neglecting equally important functions such as public education, aggregating interests etc. As a result of the excessive focus on elections, political parties in Africa, far from serving as vibrant centers of alternative policies, have become powerful election machines. They come to life when there is election which therefore has become their primary pre-occupation. This has resulted in an overriding focus on campaigning and winning elections and has reduced the capacity of political parties to function as agents of development.
Within the context of multiparty democracy, political parties are the frontline agents of Africa’s journey towards sustainable development. In view of this, the IDEG as part of its strategic direction will focus on strengthening political parties to enable them perform both their electoral and public policy and development functions in a more balanced and effective mode. This would require the setting up of a multi-party democracy fund to support political parties to develop their manifestoes, policy programmes and annual conferences. The IDEG will institute policy-oriented annual conferences for the development of political parties while advocating for the regulatory framework for political party and elections financing to be tightened and effectively enforced.