As part of efforts to consolidate multiparty democracy and promote issues based elections in the country, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a policy think tank, is preparing to organise the 2016 Presidential Debate for political parties with representation in Parliament.
As part of new initiatives, the institute is also considering organising a presidential debate for all candidates who do not have any presence in Parliament.
Sharing some insights, Mrs Jean Mensa, Executive Director of the IEA, disclosed that the series of activities outlined for this year’s elections would be unveiled at the end of this month.
Other exciting programmes lined up by the IEA include the “Evening Encounters with Presidential Candidates,” and “Town Hall Meetings with Members of Parliament”.
According to Mrs Mensa, the institute had identified 37 hot spots and was focusing its attention there.
“The whole idea is to get the candidates to focus on issues and bring these issues to the doorstep of the electorate. We believe that if we have an informed electorate, we will also have informed choices rather than personalities,” she argued.
As part of IEA’s flagship programmes, the debate affords the presidential candidates the platform to square off in a contest of ideas which takes the form of a policy dialogue engagement in which the candidates will not only present their viewpoints, plans and programmes but also point out the weaknesses in the policies of other contestants and present alternatives to those policies and programmes.
The political parties with representation in Parliament are the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), New Patriotic Party (NPP), Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the People’s National Convention (PNC).
Already, the four political parties have elected their standard bearers for this year’s elections.
The candidates elected are President John Dramani Mahama for the NDC, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, NPP, Dr Edward Nasigre Mahama PNC and Mr Kobina Ivor Greenstreet, the CPP.
Relatedly, President Mahama, in an interview with TV3 last Monday, threw a challenge that he was ready to debate Nana Akufo-Addo in a one-on-one encounter about certain “contentious issues” the latter had raised about how he (Mahama) had been managing the affairs of state, particularly the rising debt profile of the country.
Meanwhile Nana Akufo-Addo has discounted some media reports and social media posts that he has also expressed his readiness to debate Mr Mahama. Rather he says he would react to the president’s comments at the appropriate time.
Although political parties have over the years accorded the debates top priority, except in 2004 when the sitting President declined to participate in it. The IEA is yet to devise scientific means of scoring the performance of the candidates.
Mrs Mensa disclosed that as usual, the debate would be based on questions received from thematic areas, including the Economy — National Development Plan, Job Creation/Employment, Economic Growth and National Debt; the Social Sector — Socio-economic Infrastructure (including ICT), Education, Health, Water/ Sanitation, Food Security, Housing, Electricity and Power; Private Sector Development/ Industrialisation and Foreign Policy, among other issues.
She said the Institute was in the final stages of extensive discussions with political stakeholders and the electorate in particular to make the programme a success.
The IEA has organised the programme for the past 12 years.
Policy think tank
The IEA was set up as an independent, non-government institution dedicated to the establishment and strengthening of a market economy and a democratic, free and open society.
It supports research and promotes and publishes studies on economic, socio-political and legal issues in order to enhance understanding of public policy.