Sunday, February 18, 2018

Half-baked Constitution amendment

 There is ample precedent globally for the proposed bill which will require a member of Parliament to receive more than 50 per cent of the votes cast. I am unhappy, however, with the haste with which this amendment is being rushed through in the final year of this Partnership Government—a Government which has distinguished itself for weekly blunders, allegations of widespread corruption, very transient ministerial appointments and frequent dismissals of ministers.

Citizens should be given more time to study and digest the implications.

The corollary to majority members of Parliament is majority government. The same rationale requiring an MP to get 51 per cent of the electorate’s support, should require a political party to get 51 per cent of the electorate’s support; yet a member of the House with just 51 per cent of votes cast—eg, St Joseph—will have the same weight in the House of Representatives as a member with 90 per cent—eg, Chaguanas West.I speculate this bill, if passed, will allow an unscrupulous political entity, of which there are a few, to field bogus candidates to split the votes. 

But the greatest oversight in the amendment is the disregard of 49 per cent of the electorate who had no voice in 2007. The substantial electorate who supported the unsuccessful candidate after a recount reveals a difference of a single vote remain voiceless under the first-past-the-post system. Proportional representation is the sine qua non for democracy in T&Ts multicultural society.

Michael J Williams

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