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NOPOOR Policy Brief No. 8: An Empirical Study into the Expectations, Preferences and Behaviour of Ghanaian Voters towards their MPs in Constituencies with High Incidence of Poverty

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This policy brief examines expectations, preferences and behaviour of Ghanaian voters towards their Members of Parliament (MPs) during elections. Informed by a study conducted in constituencies with high incidence of poverty, ahead of the 7th December, 2012 elections, the study revealed that Ghanaian voters (44%) are very much interested in public affairs. Further, the study showed that Ghanaians (59%) actively participate in community meetings. In spite of the active nature of adult Ghanaians, in terms of interest and participation in public affairs, Ghanaians appear to have very limited knowledge and understanding of the core functions and responsibilities of MPs. For instance, majority of respondents considered the ability of their MPs to draw attention to the developmental needs of the constituents, provision socio-economic development of constituents, and lobbying of developmental projects as the core functions and responsibilities as against the constitutional assigned functions, which are lawmaking, representation and oversight of the executive. Another significant revelation from the study, which is a determinant of voting decisions, is that 84% of respondents indicated that they are „to a large extent‟ influenced by the extent to which a candidate can directly provide personal resource, provision of development projects in the constituencies and the ability of the candidate to help many people. These findings show that voters‟ voting intent is not based on the competence of the candidates to perform their core mandate of MPs, but the ability of MPs to provide developmental projects to the constituents. We recommend in this study the need for intense and continuous civic and voter education by Ghana‟s constitutional body, the National Commission for Civic Education (NNCE), and other Civil Society Organizations for citizens to appreciate the role of MPs, issues on elections and accountability, and above all, on the civic and political rights of citizens.

Image: Cape coast, Ghana ©IRD - Daina Rechner