SET THE DATE

anguillian
By anguillian January 30, 2015 10:24

 

 

The best kept secret in Anguilla seems to be the date of the next general election. Wherever you go, people keep asking the same question: “When is election?” No one has been able to give an answer. As vocal as our Chief Minister is, when it comes to the date of elections, he is very tight lipped. This, of course, has led to a lot of speculation. Many are of the view that elections must be called before Lent as there ought not to be campaigning during the Lenten season. However, no one has been able to confirm whether the season will be given the reverence that it deserves – or whether the onslaught of political meetings, social media postings, cartoons, “he say/ she say”, tape recordings and the like will continue as usual. One thing is for sure: the House of Assembly must be dissolved by the end of February. It may therefore be another month before we hear of an election date.

I often wonder about the prudence of not announcing well in advance the date of the next general election? This delaying strategy has not served many politicians across the region well. Over the past year or two, we have heard of several incumbent Governments which waited until a few weeks before elections to announce the date – and were unsuccessful at the polls. This demonstrates that the majority of voters have already made up their minds on how they will cast their vote, so such tactics are really unnecessary. My worry about the possibility of a few more weeks of campaigning is that the political temperature will reach boiling point. In my view, we have already reached the point where the general populace has had its fill of political warfare – and it is very likely that it will get worse. Anything that could minimize the acrimony and the sensationalism associated with political campaigns would therefore be welcome.

Over the coming weeks, we are likely to hear ongoing debates about various issues surrounding the electoral process such as who is eligible to run for political office, who is eligible to vote, should there be a minimum period of actual residence in Anguilla before an Anguillian residing overseas is allowed to vote, and the like. There will be discussion about revisiting electoral boundaries to ensure parity in the voting process, increasing the number of seats and at large voting. These discussions, though meaningful, are really moot at this stage because there will be no such fundamental changes to the electoral process before the next general election. Such changes can only be effected by amending the Constitution and the electoral legislation. Further, while successive Governments have, to one extent or another, recognized the need for changes to be made, none has had the will or guts to effect those changes. This is probably because the process, as is, has resulted in the election of the particular Government to office. There is therefore no impetus to change a system which is beneficial to them.
The time has come, however, for the electoral legislation and process to become more robust and to be more reflective of modern times. While our legislators may talk about it, I am not convinced that any political leader will actually be quick to advance the changes needed. It will therefore be our responsibility, as citizens, to advocate for such changes to be made. We should do this as soon as a government is elected to serve for the period 2015 to 2020. Unless such potentially controversial issues are addressed in the first two years of office, they are unlikely to be addressed ever again during the term. Which Government will have the courage to tackle this issue head on? This will indeed be a test of the genuineness of our leaders. Are they for self or are they for country? Do they want a system that gets them elected at all costs, or a system that best serves the interests of the Anguillian people?

When all the dust has settled we will be sure to see the type of leaders we have elected. Set the date, Honourable Chief Minister. Let us see what our leaders are made of.

anguillian
By anguillian January 30, 2015 10:24

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