Sunday, December 01, 2002

Kirk Meighoo takes up the subject of constitution reform in his column in today's Express. He deals mainly with the effects of constitutional evolution on local government over the last 50 years, then approaches an important point:

"In looking at constitutional reform, it is too easy to get lost in details and alternative proposals. Many have a favourite reform: a Macco Senate, proportional representation, the right of recall, an Executive President, the strengthening of Local Government, the American system, etc.

"To make sense of it all, a fundamental question needs to be asked: to what end are these reforms being proposed? Racial equality? Non-racialism? Strong government? Effective representation?

"At each moment, there will always be a number of competing concerns. However, if we understand the history of West Indian government, we find a theme common to all the islands over 400 years.

"This recurring subject is the antagonistic relationship between the Assemblies (the representatives, who now form Parliament, the Legislature) and the Governor (now the Prime Minister, head of the Executive), from the 17th century up to the 21st."

In other words, the real issue (as Lloyd Best has tirelessly pointed out these last few months) is representation. T&T's present constitutional arrangement subordinates parliament to the prime minister, reducing democracy to a least-of-evils dilemma every five years at election time. In order to have meaningful value, any proposal for reform must start from the principle of increasing political participation.

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