Saturday, February 17, 2018

‘Crossing floor’ act flawed

I have listened to the arguments which have been advanced by the Honourable Speaker in declaring the seat of the Member for St Joseph vacant.

1. When a voter places his or her “X” on the ballot paper, is he or she voting for the individual candidate, or is he or she voting for the political party, if any, alongside the name of such candidate?

Answer: It could be either one or the other or both. Conclusion: One cannot be entirely certain. It should be noted that the appearance of names of  political parties on ballot papers is intended to assist the voter in making his or her selection. 

2. When a declaration of a winner of the voting is made by the returning officer, who does he or she  declare as the winner—the individual candidate, or the political party against the name of the winner?

Answer: The individual candidate.

3. Even more fundamental to the issue at hand is the following: once elected, is the winner of the voting a representative of the constituency, or is he or she a delegate of a political party (any political party)?

Answer: He or she is, first and foremost, a representative of the constituency, and certainly not a delegate of a political party and thus being required to follow blindly the dictates of such political party and its “whip”. Conclusion: Notwithstanding the absence of standing orders, etc, as required by “Section 49”, I am of the view the entire “Crossing The Floor Act” is (a) flawed fundamentally, (b) misconceived, (c) undemocratic, (d) not in keeping with the generally accepted best principles of representative government, and (e) in general, not properly thought out.

The fact that this provision of the Constitution was never enforced, even by its “founders”, should dictate caution in attempting its implementation.

Errol OC Cupid