Friday, February 23, 2018

Run-off no part of CRC public sessions

 After 17 meetings of the Constitution Reform Commission (CRC) and a final presentation report review with citizens in San Fernando, the public was able to comment on the contents of the ten chapters, the executive summary and introduction.

I had the opportunity to attend most sessions on the East-West corridor and south, for a total of six sessions. The sessions were always organised, engaging, and had a high attendance rate.

Of all the four proposals presented in Parliament on August 4 and referenced to by the Prime Minister, by a showing of the consultation final report to the Parliament the second ballot run-off was never, repeat, never discussed at any of the sittings, not even in the three sessions in Tobago that I did not get a chance to attend but followed via media reports. 

The only time it was mentioned was in the singular context of  the creation of a post of president using a clone of the American system. 

It is clearly stated in the executive summary of the report at page two, sub head general elections that “the House of Representatives should continue to be elected as it has been since Independence—voters in each geographical constituency electing a representative by the first-past-the-post method...” Further support of the intent at the consultation is referenced at the following recommendations in the report: #27, 96, 100, 107, 135,and 149 and page number 24, that encapsulates the only three recommendations, term limits, power of recall and fixed dates of election.

In the Afghanistan presidential election of 2014 the initial result showed the winner received three million-plus votes more than the second man.

Demands for a second run-off election produced a quarrel between the two contenders for the presidency which is yet to be resolved. As a result, after February 2014 there has been no president of Afghanistan. In the meantime the people of Afghanistan are in turmoil as a result of a request for a run-off election.  Fortunately that problem was resolved a few days ago. Can we afford a similar situation in at least 20 marginal constituencies in T&T based on the last election of 2007?

Patrick Bynoe

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