Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 27th 2014 Contents A28
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The Government says it wants to
achieve a higher level of participato-
ry democracy but seeks to do so
through a runoff electoral measure con-
cocted in secret by its backroom boys
and without public knowledge or partici-
pation. "Irony of ironies!"
Further, it is beyond comprehension
that the Government would seek to
achieve this greater level of democracy by
passing legislation to require MPs to be
elected by a majority but is seeking to do
so through a simple majority with blatant
disregard for the representative voice of
Democratic participation goes beyond
what the law allows and must have cur-
rency in the political culture. In this
regard it has been established that the
runoff proposal was not discussed in the
immediate consultation or in the long
history of constitutional reform discus-
sions going back in the modern era to
the 1987 Hyatali Commission.
It is patently absurd and contradictory
for a government to claim that its inten-
tion is to promote democratic change and
enhance peoples participation but seeks
to do so by stealth and deception.
I continue to counter the claims
(whether or not the Bill was passed)
raised by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar and her spokespersons to sub-
stantiate the Bill, particularly the runoff
measure, to demonstrate that in addition
to the fundamental failure to allow peo-
ple to have their say on the runoff pro-
posals before they were brought to the
Parliament, the supporting arguments of
the government are at best weak, at
worst dishonestly contrived.
Here is another of the false con-
tentions: the runoff poll gives additional
choices to the voter and is therefore
Such a contention measures democracy
only on how many times an elector is
allowed to vote.
Electoral and political choices must be
measured in far more fundamental terms:
the recognition of the ideological prefer-
ences of the individual; the programmatic
choices of an individual preferring one
party s outline for human, economic and
social development over the other; the
human connection to the individuals in a
party, even tribal allegiances of a voter
feeling far more comfortable being
amongst his/her own---and this must be
distinguished from voting race because of
hate of another race.
By forcing an individual to narrow his
political party choices between one of
two parties he did not originally vote for
is to channel democratic choice along a
narrow a corridor.
Ultimately the elimination of third and
fourth parties from the runoff poll seeks
to force the elector to vote for a party
that he/she is fundamentally opposed to;
it ignores the fact that for decades 30
per cent of the electorate has stood on
the sidelines and refused to be persuaded
by either the Afro or Indo party.
Moreover, eliminating parties originally
chosen by electors diminishes the possi-
bility of new parties arising with new
ideologies, philosophies, and their per-
ception of human development.
Voting for the Movement for Social
Justice and or the Independent Liberal
Party is a clearly defined statement
against the UNC and the PNM. Why
should such an elector be forced in a
runoff to vote for one of the PNM or the
UNC parties which he/she may consider
anathema to national development?
The off-handed suggestion that such
electors could simply abstain ignores the
noble struggle of our ancestors to win
the right to vote despite colonial racism
and human domination.
Subliminally, the runoff system fosters
opportunism over idealism: "I will sleep
with the devil to ensure I share in office."
Desperate to counter the emerging
majority view (the MFO polls is more
relevant because of its methodology) that
the runoff poll is the UNC s attempt to
have its ethnic base cling together, the
Prime Minister laid a bogus statistical
argument on the nation.
Use of the raw statistical data (Indo
35.5 per cent, Afro 34.5 per cent) to
counter the view that the runoff favours
the UNC ignores the demographics of
constituencies in which voting takes
First off, the Indo and Afro populations
are not spread evenly across constituen-
cies; it ignores the possibility that voting
patterns could show that one group votes
in larger percentages than the other, thus
negating the crude figures; it also does
not say whether one of the ethnic groups
is more likely to vote for the other party
than the other; and the use of the raw
population data does not consider the
demographics of the marginal seats, the
ones which will determine the poll.
The Prime Minister has also conve-
niently ignored the fact that in last year s
local government poll she beseeched the
UNC electorate not to split the vote and
to come back home to the party.
The take-away issue here is: when the
arguments used to defend this runoff
proposal and elements of the two other
well debated recall vote and fixed dates
for elections do not make sense, then the
rationale for the measure has to be found
in other motivating factors.
As this column has suggested the
motive is entrenched in the view, perhaps
backed by data, that in a one-on-one
runoff in the marginals, the UNC will
come out ahead of the PNM.
Iam no IT expert like the vast majority of our citi-
zens, however, I do possess common sense like
they do. Common sense is not goat sense, which I
think the AG apparently feels we possess. If you
are pursuing the conspiracy theory in the e-mails
allegedly sent but where the e-mails were copied
by a third party, one cannot look for carbon copies
of these e-mails. That is, word for word, capital let-
ter for capital letter, common letter for common
letter, full-stop for full-stop. To pursue that line of
investigation is to deliberately have put failure as
your ultimate goal, and setting free the guilty.
The alleged e-mails must be identified by key
operative words and signal phrases. All e-mails
which trigger such a mechanism will then be col-
lected for investigation. Furthermore, the period of
such an inquiry must cover a reasonable time span
before and after the time-stamps in the alleged
The usage of this method forces our local au-
thorities to accept and rely on the integrity of for-
eign investigators. However, the safest way is for
all e-mails from those addresses over the afore-
mentioned time span, be sent here for inspection.
Since there is nothing to hide, as stated by
those involved and who have already declared
their innocence, other e-mail accounts held by
them must also be proffered for scrutiny.
Both the police and the Integrity Commission
are bound by oath of office to disregard and keep
confidential e-mails not related to the specific in-
The matter is not even in court as yet.
Over the years the quality of politics and politi-
cians has continued to descend to levels that
can only be described as rum shop politics.
The winner of any debate, if one can call it that,
goes to the entity that can shout loudest and ac-
cuse the other of whatever comes to mind, hoping
that something will stick, knowing fully well that
the ignorant masses will believe the garbage they
Gordon Dalla Costa
It's Your Write
CONSTITUTION CHANGE BY
STEALTH AND DECEPTION
All e-mails must be
proffered for scrutiny
It's all rum shop politics now
Links Archive August 26th 2014 August 28th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page