Nation e-Edition

Experts: PM’s timing curious

Left, GEORGE BELLE maintains that the election was “unnecessarily delayed”. While, right, PETER WICKHAM: The selection of the date was not the “wisest decision”.

By MARIA BRADSHAW | Wed, January 30, 2013 - 12:09 AM

POLITICAL SCIENTISTS Dr George Belle and Peter Wickham yesterday weighed in on the announcement by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart that the general election will be on February 21.

Dr Belle maintained that the election was “unnecessarily delayed”.

“We knew that the Constitution and the law allowed him to call it after the five years had passed since the last election but it was the practice in Barbados and most of the Commonwealth that you would call the elections before the anniversary of the last election date.

“I would have thought it would be better to call it before the five years was up . . . but the Constitution is quite clear and specific that it is from when the legislature sits; so he has called it before the 12th of February, which is the five years that the legislature sat first after the last election. So in that sense he is within the law but he is outside of custom.”

Please read the full story in today’s MIDWEEK NATION, or in the eNATION edition.

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Posted by Kevin St. Hill 1 year, 8 months ago
Pretty much everything so far has been curious. Why should this be any different?

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Posted by Tony Waterman 1 year, 8 months ago
HE did not call the Election and he was Castigated for that, He Called the Election and he is still being castigated for being not as CUSTOM,he is not the Greatest PM we have had, but PLEASE let Sleeping Dogs Lie and get on with the Voting now that there is a vote to be made. as for CUSTOM ""Times Change and Persons and Stratages Change with it also, if the BEES win they can do the same next time . I am actually Glad to see someone getting away from that RIGID White Hall (London) System that does not really suit us anyway

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Posted by Payel Garcia 1 year, 8 months ago
The BLP's boycott of Parliament and their propaganda about a constitutional crisis is what force PM Stuart's hand. Rosemary Alleyne's pathetic attempt on CBC Presents last Friday did not convince the public that the DLP was entitled to continue in government after the anniversary date of the last general elections. This date was definitely not planned but forced on the DLP.

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Posted by Kenneth King 1 year, 8 months ago
What difference does it make if the Prime minister is within the Law......

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Posted by Carl Harper 1 year, 8 months ago
I am surprised that PM Stuart, who spoke at the recent Bonnke service at the Gymnasium invoking the name of God - Him and He - in each sentence, would disrespect the same church leaders and our "Christian society" by holding elections in the heart of the Lenten season.

It will be interesting to hear those same church leaders condemn Stuart from acting "unchristian" and taking voters to the polls during that sacred period. I have often heard preachers rebuke event organizers and promoters for hosting calypso and dub fetes during Lent. Let's see if fire and brimstone rain on Stuart's head from the men and women of the cloth in the pulpit this weekend.

It is well-known that political campaigns are associated with much entertainment, noise, mudslinging, slander and all types of unwholesome activities, and for Stuart to have elections during this time of reverence is nothing short of sacrilegious and hypocritical. It is said that he was also a lay preacher in his earlier life, and should have therefore known better.

Just as there is no good reason - other than to hang on to power for as long as possible - for Stuart and the DLP to enter the Lenten season with elections, it is equally unnecessary for him to exploit loopholes in the Constitution to go into the sixth year of rule.

If Stuart argues that the law allows the DLP to serve five years in Office from the date of the first sitting of Parliament, then a new Government should be sworn in by February 13. This means that, even with the dissolution of Parliament, Stuart and his Ministers will still be conducting the affairs of this country until Elections Day - way past five years.... (cont'd)...

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Posted by Carl Harper 1 year, 8 months ago
(cont'd)...The Constitution may need amending to allow for elections to be held (not called) no later than five years after the date of the last elections, with the proviso of the 90-day option in case of extenuating circumstances. This clause should remove any ambiguity or the need for interpretation where a prime minister can prolong the first sitting of Parliament to extend his/her time in Office.

What we saw unfolding over the past month, almost brought us to the brink of a Constitutional crisis, for a country with a rich history of democracy that has traditionally allowed its people go to the polls in a timely manner within five years.

It is indeed clear, as Stuart has admitted, he must have planned the date of elections since the St John by-election which was so rigidly fixed that there could have been no departure from it. How else could one explain the thinking behind a strategy, if any, that would make a prime minister set the date of elections two days after the Grenada elections, where the polls are predicting a defeat for the Tillman Thomas government?

Stuart's actions to unwisely go beyond February 12 and into the 90-day period, reserved for extenuating circumstances - civil unrest, natural disaster, a state of emergency etc - in the country, is a show of defiance, arrogance, and gross indifference to the will of the people that elections are overdue.

Unless Stuart considers the deep division within the DLP and outright challenge for the leadership of the Party by the Eager 11 a "state of emergency," then one can understand why he would use the safety of the Constitution for protection....(cont'd)

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Posted by Carl Harper 1 year, 8 months ago
(cont'd)...At least two Ministers have said repeatedly that Stuart is "no fool," and I concur. Hence, there must be a greater reason for him to defy the will of the people and members of his Party to spring the element of surprise on the Opposition as far back as October 2012. One plausible reason could be the long-awaited "consequences" he promised against the Eager 11 for their uprising.

Now is has become clear why Stuart took no strong disciplinary action back then or effected a Cabinet reshuffle. The only visible casualty of the fallout was Ronald Jones never being allowed to act as prime minister, again. Instead, Denis Kellman was rewarded with a Ministry for his undying support and Richard Sealy given the acting picks in Stuart's absence.

So while it may be said that Stuart is slow to act, not communicative with the public, a man known for dithering and calling himself a "sleeping giant," he does things in his own sweet time to even the score with those who openly express dissent to his leadership.

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Posted by daneale o'neale 1 year, 8 months ago
Mr. Wickham this gov isn't do nothing right for you since 2008,maybe their should ask your advice on a date,then they would have done something right.

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Posted by Orson Arthur 1 year, 8 months ago
Can you use the internet to vote.
If you live in the USA .

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Posted by Leonard B 1 year, 8 months ago
Many, many years ago, in my first of a few economics classes that were required to complete my studies I remember the prof stating that "just as there is nothing scientific about political science there is little science in economics". He went on to say that half of the science was that of making and being able to defend very informed and educated assumptions based on the available facts and on calculations. This trivial memory came to mind as I read that these so-called scientists feel that they have the skills to determine the precise date at which the elections should be called. In my opinion, there are two things to consider. Firstly, the PM acted within constitutional limits and therefore no laws were broken. Secondly, using whatever science and calculations the PM and his team felt appropriate, they called the date they felt would be advantageous to them. In a few weeks all of this will be immaterial. The winning party will be declared and will form the Government. The date that the election was called will be a distant blur in our memories or, at least, in my aging memory. And so, my learned friends, do not worry about this date. I prefer to see you using your skills to help with selecting the best choice to lead our beautiful Barbados at this very economically difficult time. The entire world is in trouble but let us try to hold our little rock together. LB.

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Posted by june skeete 1 year, 8 months ago
"So in that sense he is within the law but he is outside of custom.” what's the problem, Dr. Belle? When he didn't call wunnah complain, not he calls wunnah criticize. Sheesh!!

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