Senior Lecturer of the University of Cape Coast Department of Finance, Seyram Kawor has indicated that vote buying has some negative effects in a democratic society.
According to him the allegations of vote buying going on at Assin North Constituency is a case in reference.
He outlines some of the effects of vote buying as it undermines democracy, impedes good governance, reinforces corruption,
diminishes civic engagement and participation and widens socioeconomic disparities.
Speaking Yoel Prah on GBC Radio Central’s sociopolitical show dubbed ‘Centre Stage’, Saturday 24th June, 2023, he explained that, “Vote buying is a practice that undermines the integrity of elections and has significant implications for the democratic process in Ghana”.
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Expatiating on his points, with regards to vote buying undermining democracy, he indicated that “Vote buying erodes the democratic principles of free and fair elections. It distorts the will of the voters and compromises the ability of citizens to make informed choices based on their genuine preferences.”
He adds “when votes are bought, the electoral process loses its credibility and undermines the trust and confidence of the public in the democratic system”, he averred.
Secondly, the Senior Lecturer shared that vote buying impedes Good Governance. “Vote buying can result in the election of candidates who may not necessarily possess the qualifications, competence or commitment required for effective governance”.
Mr. Kawor argues when candidates can buy votes, the election becomes less about their capabilities and more about their financial resources. “This can lead to the election of individuals who are not genuinely dedicated to serving the interests of the people or upholding good governance principles”, he stated.
Thirdly, vote buying reinforces corruption. According to the Senior Lecturer “Vote buying perpetuates a culture of corruption in politics. It normalizes the idea that political power can be obtained through financial means rather than through merit or public service”, he underscored.
It was his contention that vote buying was not good for any country because “when politicians engage in vote buying, it sets a dangerous precedent that fosters a cycle of corruption, where elected officials may prioritize personal gain and the recouping of their investments rather than working in the best interests of the public”.
Fourthly, he adds such an activity widens socioeconomic disparities within any country. “Vote buying tends to favour wealthy or financially powerful individuals, as they are more likely to have the resources to engage in such practices. This further exacerbates existing socioeconomic disparities in society, as candidates who can afford to buy votes may gain an unfair advantage over those who lack the financial means”, he claimed.
As a result, it contributes to marginalization and underrepresentation within communities which may be disproportionately affected by the consequences of vote buying.
Fifthly, vote buying diminishes civic engagement and participation. “Vote buying can discourage genuine civic engagement and participation in the electoral process. When citizens perceive that their votes are inconsequential and that the outcome is predetermined by financial influence, they may become disillusioned and apathetic towards participating in elections”, he stated.
This according to the finance scholar can weaken the overall democratic culture and citizen engagement in shaping the country’s future.
In his view, Ghana deploy these in combating the scourge of vote buying: 1. public awareness campaigns, 2. strengthened enforcement of electoral laws, and 3. education on the importance of free and fair elections.
In his concluding remarks, Seyram Kawor said “by addressing the root causes and implementing measures to prevent and penalize vote buying, Ghana can safeguard the integrity of its electoral system and promote a more robust democracy”.
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