The Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya, Sarah Adwoa Safo, has said that the quiet danger lurking in democratic countries lies within the halls of power, where political parties that are intended to echo the diverse voices of citizens are instead, eroding the democracy they aim to uphold.

She made this assertion at the World Political Leaders Summit 2024 held from 19 – 21st March in Athens, Greece.

This relentless pursuit of power, she said, turns politics into a ruthless game where winning is paramount.

Driven by this, the political parties, according to her, then resort to unethical tactics like smear campaigns and spreading misinformation, thereby, poisoning public discourse and eroding trust in democratic institutions.

“This erosion of trust deepens the gap between political entities and citizens, fostering cynicism towards democracy itself”, she bemoaned.

Speaking on the topic ‘The Perilous Grip: How Political Parties Threaten Democracy’ in a main-stage panel conversation with two other women political leaders, Gabriela Crețu, Member of the Senate of Romania and Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Member of the European Parliament, Safo said the actions of political parties have greatly contributed to polarizing the Ghanaian society, a situation she added, comes with dire consequences if not addressed.

The twelfth edition of the three-day Summit was held under the theme, ‘Democracy in the 21st Century’. It was co-hosted by WPL and the Government of Greece under the patronage of H. E. the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

The Summit was meant to address the multifaceted challenges and opportunities in democracy in 2024 and to also serve as a powerful reminder of the indispensable role of women’s equal participation and leadership in preserving effective and resilient democracies.

Issues of meritocracy, political funding, and the processes leading to, during, and after the conduct of elections were also discussed by the former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection.

For instance, on the issue of elections, she said such must be free, fair and transparent, putting the burden of responsibility on the Electoral Commission of Ghana and also charging the political parties to be civil in their utterances so electorates could have confidence and trust in the processes to enable them participate fully in the exercise.

Speaking on the issue of political party funding, Safo, who made history in the Parliament of Ghana by rising to the position of First female and youngest Deputy Majority Leader said the West African nation has no laws on political funding, making financiers of political parties take advantage of that lacuna to shape the interest of political parties to the detriment of the majority of the people that voted them into power.

The curtal the above highlighted issues, Safo called for reforms to strengthen democratic institutions and reiterated a quote by President Obama when he visited Ghana’s Parliament in 2009 to wit ‘Africa do not need strong men, what Africa needs is strong institutions’

The reforms, she added, must be swift to foster inclusive, sustainable growth and social cohesion.

She further underscored the need to invest in civic education and political literacy to empower citizens to actively participate in the democratic process, calling on civil society organizations to play a role in this regard.

“We have to make sure that as the youth are coming out they see politics not as a tool for ethnic violence; they shouldn’t see politics as a tool of enriching themselves; they don’t see politics as a tool for polarization and sometimes as a tool leading to civil war. They need to see politics in a different dimension, which is that of serving humanity; serving my nation; serving my people; and providing the basic social amenities for my people”, she noted.