Different forms of consultation
Constitution Reform Commission member Dr Merle Hodge has sought to clarify an article by reporter Michelle Loubon published on Page 9 of yesterday’s Express with regard to consultations on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill and the run-off proposal.
Following is her statement on these two areas:
My comments to the journalist addressed the curious fact that in the debate and in the media, Government speakers were saying 1. consultation had taken place on the measures proposed in the current bill; and 2. the run-off had come up in a meeting and had been discussed by commissioners.
The Constitution Reform Commission (CRC) held consultations all over the country. The great majority of them were well attended, and there was vibrant participation.
There are different forms of consultation. These were consultations to gather people’s views on what should go into the Constitution—an entirely valid approach. These consultations were not discussion events. No proposals were discussed. Ideas were contributed and recorded, and nobody contributed the idea of election run-offs.
Another way of consulting is to place proposals before people and have them discuss these proposals.
In the second round of consultations, people were invited to discuss the report which contained the recommendations of the CRC. The run-off was not in this report, so the run-off was never subjected to discussion by the public.
Secondly, the run-off was not discussed by all commissioners. The meeting which introduced this proposal was held in July, 2014, and half the commission was absent, ie, Mr Carlos Dillon and myself.
The whole process of pushing through run-off elections as a reform is taking place in the period July-August, when people are the most likely to be away, including CRC commissioners, MPs and senators. That does not smell right.