This would appear strange and arcane to non-Ghanaians and others who take bits of the democratic process for granted. It would not matter much where a candidate was placed on the ballot paper; after all every party has a symbol and every candidate has a name, but apparently where a candidate or party is placed on the ballot is deemed to be imbued with mystical meaning and foreboding.
There was drama galore as representatives of all seven political parties in the presidential and parliamentary race gathered for the ballot on Tuesday morning. The idea was for the political parties to ballot for places on the ballot paper and for the presidential candidates, including the lone independent candidate to ballot for places on their ballot sheet.
Ordinarily this should be a very simple ABC activity, even if it was necessary in the first place. But nothing is as it appears in Ghanaian politics. The assembly of important politicians and party representatives squabbled about whether a clear or opaque container had to be used: they settled on opaque and then solemnly, as if performing the most important political act of the campaign, proceeded to pick a number.
That was the easy part. The real excitement was how the various parties would spin their place on the presidential ballot. The placing went as follows:
- New Patriotic Party (NPP)
- Peoples National Convention
- National Democratic Congress (NDC)
- Democratic Freedom Party
- Democratic Peoples Party
- Convention Peoples Party (CPP)
- Reformed Patriotic Democrats
- Independent candidate
Then, on cue, numerology came into its own as each of the parties tried to convince its members and the public that its placing was propitious. The obvious winners were the NPP which got the number one position. Its spin doctors explained that getting the top spot was divine affirmation of its slogan of "moving forward". Its main rival, the NDC countered that its own third place was even more divine as this indicated the support of the "Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Ghost".