Hung parliament raises high the expectations and optimism of many-Speaker of Parliament

The Speaker of bemoaned the dwindling image of the law-making body and lost of trust amongst the citizens.

Hung parliament raises high the expectations and optimism of many-Speaker of Parliament

The prospect of a hung parliament raises high the expectations and optimism of many, the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. HonorableAlban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has said.

The eighth Parliament, according to the Speaker holds rather than becoming an appendage of the ruling government, a platform to better serve the needs of the various constituencies.

A careful study of successive Parliaments revealed that incumbent governments usually wield either an overwhelming or a working majority in Parliament for strange reasons.

He added that successive governments over time deploy what he referred to as cooperation by exploiting constitutional shortcomings in Article 78 clause 1 of the 1992 constitution to largely curtail the power of the legislature and dominate it leaving its power to hold government accountable a mere wish.

According to him, such a situation accounted for the production of high levels of party loyalty through the political party and electoral systems providing successive governments with the constant support of the parliamentary majority in implementing policies without strict scrutiny.

Rt. Honorable Speaker who was delivering a lecture at The Third Eminent Guest Lecture at the UPSA, Accra on the theme:  "The Future of Parliament in Ghana's Democratic Governance" stated that democracy is a concept, an idea, a universal value pursued by all but achieved by none.

"It is an oxymoron, a paradox, and a contradiction in terms. Parliament is the face and centerpiece of democratic governance,  the conglomerate of diverse views, interests, aspirations, and hopes of people. Ghana's option is a unique one with great potential, but cries for an urgent fine-tuning", the Speaker intimated.

However, he assured of his optimism that with the unflinching commitment of Ghanaians to democracy, good governance, and hunger for development, the country will overcome the teething problems and challenges that the sudden change from a culture of majoritarianism has generated in Parliament.

Despite the myriads of challenges that have bedeviled the country's Parliament, Rt. Honorable Speaker is hopeful Parliament will remain the Saviour of the dampened reputation of democracy adding, "Democracy is at a crossroad globally, more so in West Africa and Ghana".

The Speaker disclosed however that, "I see the future of Parliament in Ghana's democratic governance as the driver of change to open, participatory, inclusive and accountable government, responsible to the needs and aspirations of the people and the catalyst to a democratic governance that we can trust".

The Rt. Honourable Speaker however forecasted the future of Ghana's Parliament in the next couple of decades on three observations of how the current dynamics have occasioned the shaping politics of the future. According to him, the first happened to be the low levels of trust in government that have been prevalent globally where citizens have turned their backs on politics and politicians.

The second, the Speaker noted is linked to the first which includes the formulation of public policy which seems disconnected from public expectations. Finally, however, the Speaker said Parliaments have the lowest level of trust compared to the other two arms of government-the executive and the judiciary and that calls for urgent mitigation.

The Speaker cited a Center for Democratic Development(CDD's) Afro Barometer survey conducted between 2002 and 2019 which revealed that trust in Parliament has declined by 12 percentage points.

Further, he noted that the perception of Ghanaians in terms of the most corrupt institutions in our country places Parliament in an unenviable third position-only behind the police and judges, the same survey said.

Without a doubt, he called for a concerted effort by Parliament, parliamentarians parliamentary service staff to urgently fashion out measures to mitigate and reset the image of Parliament and act responsibly to present it as one living the expectations of the citizens.

"When this is done, Parliament will emerge within the next couple of decades as the lever that rebuilds citizen's trust in government through the role of improving transparency and accountability, Parliament will be seen as the splinter that can rekindle the dying embers of citizen's trust in the democratic experiment but most importantly, their trust in Parliament.

This will help citizens to reconnect with their government", the Speaker suggested. The second forecast, the Speaker however noted was to recognize Parliament as a most powerful conduit for transforming efficiency and effectiveness in the provision for services, the expectations that citizens have of governments that have not been realized. Rt. Honorable Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin intimated that Parliament will famously be recognized as the most powerful platform for improving government policy responsiveness to citizens' needs.

"In this regard, Parliament will be a powerful watchdog that ensures that the expectations of the citizens are fully met. In short, Parliament will become the most powerful vehicle for transmitting transformational change in government and public policy responsiveness to citizens", the Speaker noted. The Speaker called for citizens to get involved in making the image of Parliament stand out.

Report by Prosper Kwaku Selassy Agbitor