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Saturday, August 9, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
limits for the Office of the Prime Minister,
there are no known Commonwealth prece-
dents for this as parliamentary systems can
have a term of office for the Prime Minister
that could last as long as one day or five
years and three months.
18. In the circumstances, regardless of
whether or not there are fixed dates for the
election of the Parliament, the issue ought
not to be viewed in the context of terms of
office, but rather as time elapsed.
19. Upon reflection, it may be safer in
either case to place limitations upon the
office of Prime Minister by placing a pro-
hibition upon the length of time served as
a bar to future service beyond a particular
period of time.
20 Many Prime Ministers may go into a
fifth year of the existence of a Parliament
before seeking a dissolution. If a Prime Min-
ister were to go into the fifth year of two
successive Parliaments, it is possible that
the aggregate would not attain ten years,
but rather would exceed nine years.
21. In such a situation, it would be better
to define the term limit by virtue of time
served as Prime Minister using nine years
as the period of prohibition against future
22. This would allow stability in the
processes of government and would require
political parties to engage in reasonable suc-
cession planning for their continued sus-
tenance and operation.
23. Recommendation: Introduce the rel-
evant amendments to the right of recall
for MPs and the term limits for the office
of Prime Minister as soon as possible as
separate Bills requiring simple majorities
in both Houses of Parliament.
24. The proposal for fixed dates for general
elections ought to be considered within the
parameters of the discussion in the Report
of the Commission at paragraphs 108 to 111
notwithstanding the special majorities
required and should be in a separate Bill.
25. The Commission holds firm to its
view that fixed dates for general elections
ought to be given priority and pursued in
a separate Bill given the fact that it will
allow the political culture of the country to
become less election-oriented and more
26. The fact that five general elections
were held over a period of ten years between
2000 and 2010 was not a healthy devel-
opment for the political culture of the coun-
try.27. The Commission did consider the
provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments
Act 2011 in the United Kingdom and it rec-
ommends that a suitably modified amend-
ment to the Constitution be made to give
effect to this reform.
28. Recommendation: Introduce a sepa-
rate Bill requiring special majority to give
effect to fixed election dates for general
29. The recommendation for proportional
representation for the Senate was based on
a desire to seek a fairer system of election
than the first past-the-post system.
30. The Commission remains convinced
in its recommendation that proportional
representation for the Senate ought to be
pursued as a replacement for the current
system of nomination of Senators.
31. The principle of allowing the voters
of the country to decide who the parlia-
mentarians in both Houses ought to be is
an important one.
32. The first past-the-post system has
not allowed a truly fair representation of
the wishes of the electorate to be translated
into the fairest possible means of represen-
tation in the House of Representatives on
a mathematical basis.
33. The Commission will advance a fairer
method of electing MPs in subsequent para-
graphs of this addendum, but it prefers the
introduction of the system of proportional
representation into the Senate as a means
of ensuring a transfer of the political mem-
bership in that House from the choices of
the Prime Minister and the Leader of the
Opposition over to the will of the electorate
by computing the votes cast for all parties
at a general election in such a way as to
have an accurate reflection of their wishes
in the membership of the Senate.
34. There has been some concern
expressed about the link between the Com-
mission s recommendation of proportional
representation for the Senate and its related
recommendation for all Ministers, including
the Prime Minister, to be appointed from
the Senate because of the recommendation
to change that House into an elected one.
35. The philosophy of the Commission
in making such a recommendation was to
separate the function of the representation
of people in constituencies from the task
of serving the population through the Exec-
utive branch of government.
36. The Commission is not altering its
general philosophy that these two important
functions of State service to the population
ought to be separated, but rather recognizes
the challenge that some may feel in making
such an alteration to the political culture of
37. While there are powerful trends of
thought that wish to retain the Westmin-
ster-Whitehall model of government where-
by Ministers may be drawn from either
House of Parliament, the Commission is
not prepared to alter its general philosophy
on this point.
38. If, however, it is felt that Ministers
should continue to be drawn from both
Houses of Parliament as is currently done,
then the Commission will insist on its posi-
tion that proportional representation be
introduced into the Senate above all else.
39. The Commission recognizes that the
separation of constituency service from pol-
icy service in the Executive may have to be
accomplished at a future date after propor-
tional representation is introduced for the
Senate and both Houses are made equal to
each other as a consequence of such a
40. Having Ministers who will service
constituencies while also having their min-
isterial duties to perform does not provide
a level playing field for constituency service
across the country when compared to those
MPs who are not Ministers.
41. As a developing country that is a twin-
island state separated by water with various
geographical challenges, constituency service
and policy delivery have not had an equal
treatment as the response time of the State
to the plight of constituents has often been
mired in delays associated with the bureau-
cracy of the State and very little parliamen-
tary attention is given to these matters.
42. The Commission would like the con-
stitution reform process to arrive at a place
whereby the infrastructure for these reforms
is put in place, namely the introduction of
proportional representation in the Senate,
as a precursor to the introduction of the
reform of the Executive that will provide
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Recommendation seeks fairer system of election
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for Ministers to be drawn exclusively from an elected
43. The priority should be to introduce proportional
representation in the Senate first. If that succeeds,
given the fact that it requires a special majority in
both Houses of Parliament, then further consideration
ought to be given afterwards to the appointment of
Ministers from the Senate alone which would require
a simple majority in both Houses of Parliament.
44. Recommendation: Introduce a Bill seeking to
alter the method of acquiring political, as opposed
to independent, membership of the Senate from
nomination by the Prime Minister or the Leader of
the Opposition to a method of proportional repre-
sentation and only introduce the limitation on min-
isterial appointments to Senators alone if the pro-
portional representation method of election to the
Senate is accomplished.
45. The Commission stands by its recommendation
for the retention of the first past-the-post system
for the House of Representatives; however, any oppor-
tunity to make the first past-the-post system for
election to the House of Representatives a fairer one
will be welcomed by the Commission.
46. The proposal for the refinement of the first
past-the-post system is designed to ensure that all
MPs are elected on a majority basis. This is consistent
with the proposals advanced by the Commission for
proportional representation for the Senate.
47. Seeking a threshold of greater than 50% for
the election of all MPs so that the will of the electorate
is expressed on a majority basis and not on a plurality
basis. Given the emergence of a political culture that
is seeking representation on the basis of majority or
proportionality, any shift in the political culture of
voting and elections ought to consider either majority
or proportionality as philosophies to be embraced.
Plurality (or minority) outcomes in
constituencies ought not to be preferred over majority
outcomes where representation of the people is con-
48. This process of fairer representation will provide
a superior democratic foundation for election to the
House of Representatives and general effect can be
given to this by the use of a runoff system of elections
in those constituencies where no candidate has been
elected by a margin greater than 50% of the votes
cast for all candidates in such constituencies.
49. Most constituencies are usually determined
on the basis of a candidate winning more than 50%
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar unveils her
Government's plans for constitutional reform during
the opening of the fifth and final session of the tenth
parliament on Monday. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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