Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is proposing changes to the electoral system here, moving from a strictly first-past-the-post system to one that includes proportional representation.
Addressing a meeting Monday night of her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in St John the Baptist Church, St James, Mottley said the current system left a lot to be desired in terms of oversight of the executive branch because of the large ratio of ministers to ordinary members.
At present, 13 of Government’s 16 parliamentarians hold Cabinet posts, while there are two backbenchers and the Speaker.
Mottley said reducing the size of the Cabinet was not an option, therefore in order to have effective checks and balances it was necessary to increase the number of parliamentarians.
This should be done, she said, not by reducing the size of the constituencies, but by having voters choose constituency, as well as national representatives.
“Because the complexity of Government does require the numbers [of ministers] that we have . . . in this modern democratic world with international, regional and domestic obligations, it means that we may have to consider increasing the numbers [of MPs].
“Reducing the size of constituencies is to make them more vulnerable to vote-buying, because the smaller the unit the easier it is to buy votes . . . we need a category of member of parliament called national members of parliament. We need to do it in a way where you, the voter, retains the right to choose, not the political party, to appoint on the basis of proportional representation,” Mottley said during the BLP’s voter education campaign.
The Opposition Leader said the country was at risk of having a prime ministerial dictatorship because the Prime Minister was the only one with the power to hire and fire members of Cabinet.
And in order to “protect this country from a prime ministerial dictatorship, which is effectively what it has had for 51 years”, there was a need to also strengthen, deepen and broaden the function of Parliament, she stressed.
Furthermore, the BLP leader said the current system was vulnerable to abuse by Cabinet, “especially an Executive that has gone AWOL like this one that we now have in Barbados”.