Last Friday morning I crawled out of bed after less than five hours of sleep. Like most of the nation, I was up watching the fate of the political parties, and therefore the nation, being decided by the voters. The first thing I noticed when I got up was a kind of hush over the country and I don’t mean the early morning kind of quiet; there was a hush in the atmosphere.
Later that morning I was talking to a friend about the elections and he said that one of his employees remarked that when she was coming to work on the minibus no-one was talking, there was a strange quiet. Then the following day I was speaking to another friend and he told me he felt as if the country was in mourning. Now I don’t know if this hush/silence/mourning was the result of the thought of another five years under a DLP government or if it was the dashed hope of economic salvation from the BLP.
To tell the truth I was hoping for the seats to be split evenly because I naively thought it might force the two sides to work together to get the country through this crisis. However any thought of that occurring was quickly dismissed when I watched the interview with Miss Mottley at party headquarters, where she said that she hoped it would not be a hung parliament because that would mean going back to the polls in a few months.
Now I am not an expert on the Constitution and the provisions for forming a coalition government, but she made it sound as if there were no other options, so it would seem that the constitution does not speak to two parties coming together to help run the nation. The alternative is that Miss Mottley was saying that the two parties working together was outside the realm of possibility in her mind. There seemed to be no latitude to forget the partisan politics for the overall good of the nation. That is of concern to me.
We tend to throw around the term “opposition” quite loosely and on Thursday night in particular I can’t count the number of times I heard it. Well that made me really look at the meaning of the words ‘opposition’ and ‘oppose’. Opposition means resistance, antagonism, being hostile or in conflict or disagreement. So the Opposition, as we know, is the party that is opposed to the one in office where the word ‘oppose’ means to set oneself against, resist, argue or compete against.
Therefore if we are operating under a system of government in which we have a ruling party and an opposing party whose role, by the nature of its definition, is to oppose, set themselves against, or argue against the ruling party, how can they ever operate as one and work together to take the country forward?
The same friend that I was speaking to the morning after the elections said he did not have much hope that things will change in his lifetime. I however not only hope to see change in my lifetime but I believe that change must come because more and more people are recognizing that this system of government is not working and, as we can see from the voter turnout, seem to have lost confidence in both parties.
I was amazed to hear the same thoughts coming from him that I’ve been sharing with my husband for over a year. He said that he would like to see us voting for candidates for the ministerial positions rather than for constituencies. So we would be voting for a Minister of Education, a Minister of Finance etc. and the candidates would therefore have to be people who have proven themselves in these areas and can offer solutions to improve the ministries they have responsibility for and therefore the whole country. They would also not be associated with a particular party because we would have no parties.
I would even go so far as to say we should be voting for a Prime Minister as well rather than the leader of the party with the most seats becoming the Prime Minister. That does not necessarily guarantee us the best prime minster, not that I’m saying the current one is not the best.
For years we have boasted of having one of the oldest parliaments in the western hemisphere and we have lived under the Westminster systems for centuries, but surely now, people are beginning to see that a kingdom divided really cannot stand. If we have come this far under this deficient and divisive system, can you imagine where we could reach by working together?
*Donna Every is a Chartered Accountant and an MBA who worked with Ernst & Young for ten years before starting her own Business Advisory practice, Arise Consulting Inc. She has written four books including What Do You Have in Your House? Surviving in Times of Financial Crisis and the newly released novel The Merger Mogul.
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