Saturday, October 19, 2002

Anand Ramlogan, in his column in today's Guardian, tackles the same issue of representation, but with less clarity of vision than Lloyd Best.

"One of the flaws in our parliamentary democracy is that there is no system to audit the performance or non-performance of elected officials. Ours is a one-day democracy, where people happily place their “X” once every five years (or three years in the case of local government elections) and then disconnect from the political process of democracy.

"It is as if their democratic right and responsibility are encapsulated in this one day of voting and it comes to an unceremonious end at 6 pm.

"This lackadaisical political culture breeds irresponsibility and neglect. It explains why, quite recently, one MP was able to hold onto his seat in Parliament for five years even though he was working in Africa full-time."

The simple fact is that T&T is a "parliamentary democracy" in name only. Our legislature is literally a parliament, a talk-shop, & one with a particularly low level of conversation. A "system to audit the performance or non-performance of elected officials" would be built in to the legislature itself if only it were a truly representative & truly powerful institution, capable of saying No to the government & hence requiring the emergence of true politics (another thing we all say we need)—negotiation & compromise in the interest of as many citizens as possible.

20-16 is not a solution, it's a delusion. We're in a Manning dictatorship for the next five years or so (unless a couple of truly responsible, intelligent MPs decide to behave like real MPs, i.e. locate & exercise their consciences from time to time). Maybe if we stop calling T&T a "parliamentary democracy" & start saying "elected dictatorship" the truth will gradually sink into our brains & we'll be ready next time around to act like free & free-thinking men & women.

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