Monday, February 19, 2018

No time for political ‘snakes and ladders’


Reform talk: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaks in Parliament at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, on Monday.

Mark Fraser

 It would appear the People’s Partnership Government, sensitive to the possibility of not being returned to power, must now contrive to place stumbling blocks to avoid outright failure of too many of its prospective candidates at the general election of 2015.

As an onlooker interested in the game of politics, the suggestion being put forward that a minister must receive at least 50 per cent of the popular votes cast in order to be recognised/accepted as an MP appears to be pure political stuff and nonsense. What if the lucky person gets 49 per cent or 45 per cent or even 35 per cent?

While we are still at the speculative stage, I find it difficult to believe it would be easy to convince supporters of the winning candidate to go back to the polls if their candidate secures less than 50 per cent. 

Let us attempt to be realistic. Will everyone insisting on exercising their franchise find it convenient to make time out to “re-vote”? If a few hundred people of the front runner cannot vote, then their very own “preferred” candidate loses out?

This idea of a 50 per cent clear vote may better suit a country of many more millions than our 1.3 million. We do not have sufficient voters to play at political “snakes and ladders”. This is Trinidad and Tobago. The gold medal/first prize/blue ribbon is for the winner. There is no silver or bronze medal up for grabs in small-island-state politics. Not anywhere in Caricom, and indeed the Caribbean Basin.

The true, blue Trini may be able to purchase caviar at our best supermarkets, but our minds are still clinging to and consumed by our “pig tail” politics. But we also appreciate it is right and democratic to try anything—anything at all—for your party to retain power. Playing gymnastics with the Constitution, varying standing orders, obfuscating or just being “difficult” will not cut it.

We understand win. We understand lose. We no longer understand coalitions/accommodations. There are allegations surfacing that the Partnership seeks extended political life via a change to proportional representation. This is an idea yet to be properly finessed.

And anyway, what is the big rush? Crime, poverty eradication, equality of treatment, good governance and the securing of the economy must remain at the top of the agenda. 

Lynette Joseph

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