• Paco Smith | Chairman | BPP

It's The System, Stupid: Proportional Representation (Barbados)

By: Paco Smith | Chairman | Belize Progressive Party

This past Thursday (May 24th, 2018) Barbados held its General Elections and all indications suggest it went relatively "smooth".


Being an ardent student of Governance, a particular outcome of the exercise peaked my interest. Much to the surprise of many, it has nothing to do with gender or individual personalities.

My focus is on the electoral system that is employed by Barbados which is the same as is used in Belize. Fundamentally, the outcome, being that one political party completely swept all the constituencies, is perplexing. I say this not because I had a preference as to who I foresaw "winning". The reality is that I feel disconcerted because albeit the overwhelming "win" by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), (30 out of 30), there is a deeper and more ominant significance.

Essentially, the outcome is indicative of the failure and antiquated reality regarding the first-past-the-post system, in that although it is a "win" for the victorious political party, it is an overall "loss" for the people of Barbados. In order for the element of representation to be maximised and for good governance to be manifest, it is essential that government can be checked, particularly in the House of Representative.

Bearing these elements in mind and in keeping with the governance viewpoint of the Belize Progressive Party - BPP, I submit that the employ of the electoral system known as Proportional Representation (PR) is the most viable alternative. This model, by virtue of its construct, would not allow for an outcome like that which befell Barbados.

Much like Barbados, Belize must sincerely give due consideration to this matter and the BPP's well-thought-out prescription. Heaven forbid at the next General Election, the incumbent UDP administration is swept out of office much like Barbados' outgoing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and subsequently replace them with the PUP. What a distressing thought, particularly for those who are attuned to the PUP's track record, much like that of the UDP's,, involving unbridled graft and corruption!

Therefore, my appeal is for Belizeans to look beyond the "obvious", by applying a greater level of analysis concerning the dire need for a change to our electoral system, because to have one political party enjoy complete control in the House of Representatives, can by no means be beneficial toward ensuring the diversity of concerns across the socio-economic spectrum are duly represented and tabled, accordingly.

After all, an ideal of public service is to ensure a wide cross-section of the people are duly represented in the nation's legislature. As a result, I implore one and all to take stock of Belize's political and governance realities and earnestly assess whether Belize can afford such an untenable dynamic.

Of note, I would be remiss not to mention that my observation and subsequent resolve is buttressed by the fact that Barbados' recent General Election featured a plurality of political choices beyond that of the traditional two political parties, to the tune of six non-traditional parties/entities that contested the polls. That is encouraging, for it demonstrates the evolution of the Barbadian political dynamic.

This is yet another fundamental tenet of the BPP, being manifest regionally, in which the inclusion of multiple parties in the political fray, is essentially good for the "democratic" process. Hence, signaling hope that not only across the region, but more importantly in Belize, a keen process of recognition concerning this vital Good Governance concept is gaining incremental traction.

This is simply some food for thought and consumption!


#ChangeTheSystem #Barbados2018Election

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