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PEP COLUMN: The need for direct democracy in Barbados

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

PEP COLUMN: The need for direct democracy in Barbados

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If Barbados is to survive with dignity and to move ahead in the very unstable environment that envelopes the world today then we simply have to find a way to harness leadership talent that exists outside of the narrow DLP/BLP two-party structure!
The reality is that Barbados is a small country with extremely limited natural resources, and as a result will always be faced with the onerous task of seeking to accomplish a lot with very little.
This therefore puts a premium on leadership – on putting in place leaders who are blessed with truly outstanding ability, vision, commitment and initiative.
The Peoples Empowerment Party (PEP) would like to advise the Barbadian people to make use of the traditional political system where it proves itself to be effective, but that whenever it becomes dysfunctional and fails the national community, to utilize their native intelligence to devise novel initiatives that permit them to “get around” its failings.
We would like to remind Barbadians that our British colonial masters bestowed upon us a political system that was designed for their large, impersonal nation. But Barbados is a small, intimate country that possesses a potential for experiments in people-centred “direct democracy” that we have not even begun to explore!
Let us therefore be willing to think and act outside of the box when the traditional two-party system fails us!
Take the case of selecting general election candidates. Sometimes, the two-party system serves the people well by selecting candidates who have truly been vetted and approved by the people of the constituency that they propose to represent. But far too often, the system fails and throws up candidates with little or no legitimacy.
A good case in point is the constituency of Christ Church West! The Democratic Labour Party has decreed that their candidate for this constituency is to be a lawyer with no real connection to the constituency, and who was voted for by a mere two members of the DLP constituency branch!
The Barbados Labor Party hierarchy, on the other hand, has hand-picked a dentist who is not known for having ever made a contribution to, or an intervention in, any issue of national significance.
Clearly, in this case, the traditional system has failed the people of Christ Church West!
But the people of Christ Church West do not simply have to accept this failure of the system! In Switzerland, groups of citizens routinely meet and select election candidates. There is no reason why the people of Christ Church West cannot do a similar thing!
A casual perusal of the electoral list for Christ Church West would reveal the names of dozens of residents who are qualified to represent Christ Church West in the House of Assembly.
A small sample of the names of outstanding citizens who reside in Christ Church West is as follows: Merle Niles, Diana Sealy, Jerry Emtage, Trevor Hassell, Craig Cozier, Alvin Cummins, Trevor Chase, Stephen Emtage, Sean Marquez, Timothy Slinger, Troy Arthur, Ebonnie Rowe, Anthony Hoyos, Betty Holford, Kean Springer, Cecilia Elliott Alleyne, Harold Oxley and the list goes on and on – all of them more qualified to represent their community than the selectees of the two major parties!
• The PEP column represents the views of the People’s Empowerment Party.