We want to identify the key factors that contributed to the electoral success of the Progress Party (PP) in the 1969 second republic elections in Ghana.
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The Progress Party, popularly known as PP, was founded and led by Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia.
It won the 1969 General elections with a landslide victory.
Below were the factors that contributed to the electoral success of the Progress Party.
1. Military government support
The party had the support of the military government at the time.
The National Liberation Council (N.L.C.) which overthrew Kwame Nkrumah’s administration did everything possible to replace him and his Convention People’s Party (C.P.P) with the old opposition United Party (U.P).
The military junta thus appointed Dr K.A. Busia to become the chairman of the Centre for Civic Education.
K.A. Busia led the opposition United Party when Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention People’s party was in government.
Busia, as the chairman, therefore had the opportunity to travel the length and breath of the country spreading the message of his own party under the guise of educating the people on their rights and responsibilities.
In fact, Busia’s chairmanship of the Centre for Civic Education gave him and his party an added advantage over his opponents.
Apart from marketing himself extensively during his travels (as noted above), K.A. Busia also prepared the grounds for his acceptance by the electorate as the next civilian leader.
2. Absence of a strong opponent
The banning of the C.P.P through a military decree reduced the election contest to an all- Progress Party affair. Additionally, most of the leading members of the C.P.P were disqualified from contesting the elections.
3. Decline in Kwame Nkrumah’s popularity
The widespread anti-C.P.P and anti-Nkrumah sentiments following the 24th February 1966 coup d’etat helped the Progress Party to win the elections.
This was because Komla Agbeli Gbedema (K.A. Gbedema) of the National Alliance of Liberals, arguably Busia and the Progress Party’s strongest opponent, had strong ties with Nkrumah’s discredited C.P.P.
The electorate regarded the ousted Convention People’s Party together with anyone associated with it as the party which had oppressed Ghanaians and brought them hardship.
For that matter, the majority of voters would not allow someone like Gbedema and his new party, National Alliance of Liberals (NAL), to come to power.
4. Thirst for freedom
The electorate believed that the leaders of the N.L.C. and the Progress Party combined were the true champions of freedom and human rights.
Their criticisms of the Nkrumah regime made this possible.
It was, therefore, a matter of course that many Ghanaians would look up to them for leadership with regard to the country’s future political direction.
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5. The ethnic factor
The ethnic factor also weighed heavily in favour the Progress Party.
K.A. Busia was an Akan, the dominant ethnic group in Ghana. And being the most popular Akan politician at the time, he was bound to win an election which was, in several ways, reduced to an Akan-Ewe contest. Gbedema was an Ewe, a relatively small minority ethnic group.
6. Massive support from workers
Dr K.A. Busia and his party enjoyed considerable support from workers groups.
Notable ones were the railway workers and coca farmers in coca growing areas.
The Progress Party also had the support of the Ghana Bar Association and students unions.
7. Unpopularity of the National Alliance of Liberals
The National Alliance of Liberals (NAL) which was the strongest rival of the Progress Party in the 1969 election in Ghana was very unpopular. The main reason was that it was considered to be too closely related to the now-disgraced erstwhile C.P.P. administration.
8. Attractive party manifesto
For instance, the Progress Party leadership promised to create jobs and to reduce youth unemployment. This obviously convinced the electorate to vote for them.
9. Efficient organization
Finally, Busia’s P.P. built an effective party machinery that reached the grassroots.
For example, party offices and other structures spread within local and constituency levels throughout the country.
Under the prevailing social, political and economic conditions in Ghana at the time, therefore, K.A. Busia and the Progress Party had no difficulty sweeping the polls in the 1969 elections.
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