Notes from the Ghanaman File: Managing post-election defeat trauma


Victory or success has many cousins whilst failure and defeat is an orphan indeed. All the happenings within NPP and NDC in the post election week point to this truism of life.
In politics, three scenarios present after each national elections. Some supporters from the losing side may switch camp to the winning side. They are the fair-weather supporters or political turn-coats. Some loyalists will scream, cry, brood, whine or charge on their leaders but remain in the party. The other ones so shocked may assume that their party cannot bounce back so they quit politics completely. I know some NDC supporters, including some in leadership who quit when they lost in 2000 and didn’t have the courage to re-join them when they returned to power in 2008 and are still out.
Suddenly, following the December 7 shock defeat, some NDC functionaries have found their voices to scream out against their leaders and everyone blaming everybody regarding what caused them the stunning heavy losses at the polls with some of them bothering on absurdity.
On the other hand, NPP supporters now find everything right with their party with some of them already prophesying that NDC will not resurrect from their shock defeat which will let NPP remain in power ad infinitum!
What is happening currently in the NDC is ‘normal’ in life. It happens in all human endeavours when we fail. As humans, we programme our minds to only the best in life so sometimes, we are not able to understand why we face disappointments. In 2008, when the NPP had to exit office under similar circumstances, some of their supporters held some key personalities accountable.
Dr Arthur Kennedy wrote his book, ‘Chasing the Elephant to the Bush’ in which he chronicled several secrets from their campaign board room and stepped on several toes including those of the Flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo.
President Kufuor, whose tenure ended the NPP’s reign in office after eight years was also at the receiving end by most of the disappointed supporters with rumours that His Excellency did not wish Nana Akufo-Addo well and worked against his ascendency to the throne.
Political leadership, like that of sports or Football management is indeed a very tough one because the follower do not want to taste defeat-In local parlance, ‘Ye nko nkoaaa’. Therefore, in defeat, these leaders have to manage their own disappointments as well as the followers’ to avoid aggravating their pains through physical and verbal attacks. It is worse when an incumbent leader and his/her party lose than when in opposition.
In opposition, they can blame incumbency advantage which comes with abuse of office in using air planes for campaigns in remote parts of the country as well as vote buying. Supporters of a ruling party do not only bemoan their defeat for the sake of it but they cry over the loss of power with its concomitant pecks of power like jobs, contracts, free use of vehicles, bungalows etc. A politician friend of mine told me that the worst thing that happens to any politician is to suddenly start paying for fuel, car maintenance, foreign travels etc.
People with external locus of control blame outside forces than themselves for everything. Often, what the politicians do in assuaging the pains and disappointments of their followers is not to own up like Kofi Adams has done as the NDC’s Campaign Manager but to push their defeat to external forces. They are quick to blame rigging and malpractices by electoral agencies and threaten or truly go to court to try and use legal means to get what they don’t get at the polls.
What politicians and their supporters must understand is that, no one remains in power forever. No condition is permanent. They need to appreciate that like in sports, there can only be one winner and there will always be a loser.
I am sure that in our part of the world, the personality cults built by politicians around themselves and the dependency syndromes which make most of their followers depend on them than on working systems and opportunities is what makes these supporters turn against them in defeat.
With or without NDC or NPP, life must go on. That’s how societies are built.
kojo-ackaah-kwartengBy Kojo Ackaah-Kwarteng
Head of Station,Onua 95.1

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