It has emerged that more than half of Ghanaians seem to have no idea about the upcoming referendum scheduled for December 17 2019. The referendum is to amend Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution, to allow political parties’ participation in local government elections. The Constitution requires a minimum of 40 per cent voter turnout for the referendum to be valid, with 75 per cent voting ‘Yes’ to ensure the amendment is successful.
A survey conducted by Afrobarometer indicates that fewer than half (42 per cent) of Ghanaians are aware of the December 17 referendum.
The survey also found that, contrary to popular opinion that more members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) are interested in the referendum, members of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) rather expressed keener interest to vote in the referendum than NPP members.
The survey, which was led by the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), interviewed 2,400 adult Ghanaians between September 16 and October 3 2019.
According to the report, which was released yesterday, with the few Ghanaians who have some level of knowledge about the referendum, men, the highly educated, elderly citizens and people in rural communities were found to be more aware of the referendum than women, citizens with less schooling, young adults and people in urban centres.
A slim majority of those who are aware of the referendum find the Electoral Commission’s preparations for the referendum to be satisfactory. However, majority of Ghanaians said there has not been a lot of education about the voting exercise.
This according to Afrobarometer survey, the situation is likely to result in low voter turnout for the referendum, especially since it will be conducted together with the local government elections, which historically attract less than 40 per cent of registered voters.
Commenting on the findings at a short programme held at Alisa Hotel yesterday to unveil the report, Dr Kwesi Jona, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), expressed worry about the lack of awareness on the referendum.
He called on civil society organisations, the Electoral Commission, the Information Services Department (ISD), the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), among others, to up their game in the creation of awareness on the exercise. He stated that education should be intensified, targeting, especially, women and the youth.
The head of Department of Peace Studies, Dr Patrick Osei-Kufuor, expressed worry about the limited concentration given to the core issue of the referendum by Afrobarometer.
He indicated that it would have been equally relevant for Afrobaromter to have researched into whether Ghanaians are interested in the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) on partisan basis.