Ghana before the beginning of the 4th Republic had experienced varying military interventions which were somewhat welcomed but lost popularity when they acted like the people they overthrew. The return to civilian rule was a laudable one and was largely brought about by the wind of democratization that hit in the late 20th century.
Pressure politics generally refers to any political action which relies heavily on the use of mass media and mass communication to persuade politicians that the public wants or demands a particular action. Political pressures, therefore, include agencies that employ advocacy, public awareness, policy research, lobbying, public opinion polls, and organized protests to affect the political process. Political pressure can be exercised by both political parties and pressure groups but looking at their mode of operation, pressure groups rely more heavily on the media to make their demands.
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Political Tension In Ghana
Political pressures are very vital sources of specialist information. When decisions are being made by the government, groups that are specialists of the sector it affects make useful contributions. A classic example is the Ghana Bar Association. It advises both the government and the public on legal matters.
During the 2012 election petition, the association educated the public on the legality of the action taken by the New Patriotic Party (NPP). They offer a very significant access point for seeking amends of grievances. The government is formed out of a political party and during the campaign period, several promises are made to the general public.
Pressure groups provide the avenue for citizens to keep reminding the government of their promises. Also, governments tend to make outrageous promises when natural disasters occur. The survivors or survivors of the unfortunately deceased are kept in anxious expectation of the government’s promises that never come or delays and not even sufficient.
The Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) is committed to ensuring national administrations are accountable to the people. Representation of minority interests. The minority usually refers to the vulnerable in society but currently, environmental interests have also sprung up to champion the need for the protection of the environment.
Green Advocacy Ghana is an environmental interest group concerned with the protection of the environment. Disability groups also advocate for greater representation in government policies and for their needs to be met.
The Union of Blind People, for example, advocates for the recognition of the rights of the visually impaired. They demand accountability and transparency from the government. Groups make demands and expectations and actively contribute to the political institutions. Pressure groups demand the government makes its procedures clear to the public and explain any ambiguous action, here they act as the mouthpiece of society.
The Social, Expenditure and Financial Accountability (SPEFA) group is a pressure group in the Adentan Municipal Assembly. It closely follows the activities of the assembly and checks its actions, makes demands, and ensures that the assembly has the support of the municipality in carrying out its functions.
They also seek transparency when they inspire the spread of power so that the right authority or arm of government is performing its required function. They uphold democratic principles. The conduction of a periodic, free and fair election is a key feature of the democratic process.
The formation of ‘The Let My Vote Count Alliance,’ a group committed to preserving the integrity of the election process and democracy in Ghana, reinforced this principle during the 2016 elections. They demanded clean voters register to ensure that the outcome of the election was indeed the choice of the people and not influenced by a party’s ambition.
They influence public policy. Pressure groups are agenda setters. Agenda setting is the ability to prevent a policy option from appearing on the agenda and being considered by the government. They make useful legislative submissions.
Occupy Ghana is a group that seeks to promote economic development in Ghana. They sometimes share their research findings with the government and contribute significantly when economic decisions are being made through criticisms, thereby executing changes to public policy. They also provide avenues for people with shared interests to channel their collective resources into political action.
The Ghana Center for Democratic Development also promotes discussion and dialogue and mobilizes public opinion on crucial matters. They serve as principal links between citizens and their governments. The National Association of Students (NUGS) and The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) are direct representations of their constituent members and they interact directly with the government to secure the needs of their members.
Political pressures have contributed in diverse ways to deepen Ghana’s budding democracy. Pressure groups can only exist in a democratic dispensation and their continued existence and presence can be said to be a sign of a deepened democracy. Ghanaians are well known for “speaking their minds” on any issue without fear of suppression this is also a sign of deepening democracy.
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Written by: Phoebe Addo, Tue, Mar 23, 2022.