‘Skirt and blouse’ voting in Ghana. The trend, winners and losers(Dec 20, 2016)
None of the 26 constituencies that voted ‘skirt and blouse’ in the 2012 election repeated their action in 2016, but President John Dramani Mahama fared better with ‘skirt and blouse’ voting this year.
In the 2012 election, out of the 26 constituencies that voted skirt and blouse, President Mahama won 19, while the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate won seven.
However, only 12 out of the 19 constituencies that voted ‘skirt and blouse’ for President Mahama in 2012 endorsed him again in 2016. The remaining 14 constituencies shifted to Nana Akufo-Addo.
Notable constituencies that are NPP strongholds but voted for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) presidential candidate in 2012 and chose the NPP parliamentarians include Ayawaso West Wuogon and Tema East in the Greater Accra Region; Nkoranza North and Wenchi, the home constituency of Dr Kofi A. Busia in the Brong Ahafo Region and Offinso North in the Ashanti Region.
The trend showed that the Agona East Constituency is the only constituency in Ghana that has consistently voted ‘skirt and blouse’ for the presidential candidate of the main opposition every eight years and in all instances, the opposition party won the election. It did for ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor in 2000; late President John Evans Atta Mills in 2008 and Nana Akufo-Addo in 2016.
What is skirt and blouse?
‘Skirt and blouse’ voting is a voting pattern where the electorate choose to vote for different candidates in the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Skirt and blouse favours NDC more than NPP
There is no data for the 1992 election to compare the performance of the two parties in 1992 since the NPP boycotted the 1992 parliamentary election over allegations of rigged presidential election—a reason that compelled the Electoral Commission (EC) to introduce reforms that mandated both presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on the same day.
From available data, since 1996, ‘skirt & blouse’ voting pattern favours the NDC more than the NPP in the Presidential race but vice-versa for the NPP in the parliamentary contest.
According to the statistics, in 1996, only 11 constituencies in five regions—Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Greater Accra, Northern and Western regions, voted skirt and blouse.
That year, eight constituencies—Offinso North, Tano North, Ablekuma South, Bimbilla, Wulensi, Ellembelle, Wenchi East and Tano North, voted for the NDC candidate—former President J.J. Rawlings, who was seeking a second term in office, leaving the remaining three—Evalue Ajomoro Gwira, Prestea Huni Valley and Mion for the NPP candidate who later won the 2000 election—former President J.A. Kufuor.
In 2000, there was no skirt and blouse voting in the Ashanti and Upper West regions. However, 17 constituencies did and the NDC Presidential Candidate, Prof. J.E.A Mills, and the NPP Candidate, Mr J.A. Kufuor, who eventually became President after a run-off, had eight constituencies each voting for them in skirt and blouse with the People’s National Convention (PNC) picking the remaining slot in Bawku Central where interestingly, an Independent Candidate who later became an NPP stalwart, Hawa Yakubu (now late) won the parliamentary.
In 2004, the Ashanti Region was the only region that did not vote skirt and blouse but 22 constituencies went skirt and blouse. The NDC had 15 as against seven for the NPP.
However, only four constituencies repeated their voting pattern in 2000 and in 2004. While Salaga South voted for the NDC, Bawku Central dropped the PNC for the NDC in the presidential race but sent PNC’s David Apasara to Parliament. Ellembelle and Evalue Ajomoro Gwira kept faith with two CPP parliamentary candidates — Freddy Blay and Kojo Armah, as well as the NPP Presidential candidate, former President J.A. Kufuor.
In 2008, 19 constituencies thumbed skirt and blouse. 11 went in favour of the NDC as against eight for the NPP.
Five constituencies decided to keep to their skirt and blouse pattern in the previous election in 2004 in 2008. Sisala East went with the NPP in the presidential race and the NDC for Parliament. Sisala West voted the NDC in the presidential contest but sent Mr Haruna Bayirga of the PNC to Parliament.
The Volta Region kept to its trend with Nkwanta North and voted for Prof. Mills of the NDC and the NPP’s Mr Joseph Nayan as Member of Parliament (MP).
However, for the first time in the skirt and blouse trend, Jomoro voted NDC in the presidential contest and the CPP’s Samia Nkrumah as MP.
Consistent skirt & blouse constituencies since 19962012
In 2012, three regions--Brong Ahafo, Central and Northern, each voted skirt and blouse in four constituencies followed by the Ashanti and the Upper East regions, with each of them having three constituencies voting skirt and blouse.
Out of the 26 constituencies that voted ‘skirt and blouse’, only Builsa South did the same thing in 2008—NDC for the presidency and the PNC for Parliament.
Strong parliamentary candidates
Interestingly, in constituencies where any of the major parties won the presidential race, it took stalwarts of the NPP, the NDC, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the PNC to contest the parliamentary seat as was the case of Ms Theresa Ameley Tagoe of the NPP (1996 & 2000) in Ablekuma South; Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku of the NPP, Offinso North (1996); Madam Edith Haizel of Evalue Ajomoro Gwira of the NDC (2000); Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo of the NDC, Fanteakwa North (2000); NDC’s Lee Ocran in Jomoro; Freddy Blay, then with the CPP (2000 and 2004), Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom (2004) who was then with the CPP, Hajia Alima Mahama (2004) in Nalerigu Gambaga; Mr Boniface Abubakar Saddique of the NPP (2004) in Salaga South; Lee Ocran of the NDC (2008) in Jomoro; NPP’s Agnes Chigabatia (2004) in Builsa North; Mr Ambrose Dery of the NPP (2008) in Lawra; Mr Fritz Baffour of the NDC (2008) in Ablekuma South; and Madam Hannah Bissiw of the NDC in Tano South (2012).
Mr Blay, Dr Nduom and Mr Kojo Armah, all candidates of the CPP in the past, benefitted from an alliance with the NPP which did not allow the NPP to file candidates in constituencies that were CPP strongholds.
Only one constituency voted skirt and blouse in favour of a PNC presidential candidate—Bawku Central (2000 and 2004). The Mion Constituency in the Northern Region also voted the NPP and the CPP skirt and blouse in 1996, electing CPP’s Mr Alabira Ibrahim as MP.
Volta Region skirt and blouse
The trend also showed that apart from 2000 when the Anlo Constituency voted an NDC member who went independent, Ambassador Victor Gbeho, as MP and another Independent Candidate, Mr Rashid Bawa, in the Akan Constituency, the Volta Region records only one constituency voting skirt and blouse every election year since 2000. This switches among Akan (2008), Nkwanta North (2004 and 2008) and Krachi East (2016).
Skirt and blouse voting
Experts, including Dr Bossman Asare, the Head of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, attributed the skirt and blouse voting to the increasing political consciousness among Ghanaians.
Different people give different reasons for voting skirt and blouse. For Mr Ibrahim Ahmed General who voted skirt and blouse in the Ningo/Prampram Constituency in 2012, he voted for President Mahama but endorsed the NPP Parliamentary candidate, Mr Sylvester Tetteh, because Mr E.T. Mensah, who was the NDC Candidate, had earlier made several promises but failed to deliver, only to point the electorate to the 1992 Constitution that MPs did not construct roads.
In the case of Mr Wumtea Abdul-Razak Machigani, in 2012, he chose the CPP Presidential Candidate, Dr Foster Abu Sakara, and voted for the NPP’s Parliamentary Candidate for Ablekuma Central, Mr Ebenezer Nii Narh Nartey, because he stood a better chance of snatching the seat from the incumbent who happened to be an NDC candidate—Mr Theophilus Tetteh Chaie.