No room for honeymoon
Most governments in Barbados and elsewhere have traditionally been allowed to enjoy a honeymoon in the immediate aftermath of their election to office.
It is typically a period when newly-sworn leaders and members of their cabinets are allowed to settle into the job and national goodwill is at its highest. The professional analysts and ordinary citizens allow them to govern free from major criticism and contention. It is also not unusual for opposition leaders and their parties to take it easy on their political foes early on in their tenure.
With today marking one week since the Freundel Stuart Administration was re-elected to office with a two seat parliamentary majority, several questions related to political honeymoons come to mind. Does Stuart and his team deserve the traditional grace period given new governments?
Having campaign and won on a continuation of their previous manifesto and mandate would it be unreasonable to expect them to — as the familiar cliché goes — hit the ground running?
Given the almost immediate Estimates debate and the need to approve Government’s budget in both Houses of Parliament before the end of next month does the Democratic Labour Party Administration really need a honeymoon?
Should Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley and her 13 other members in the House of Assembly immediately put pressure on the Government?
There are no easy answers to any of these questions, except for the fact that Stuart’s Government has no choice but to immediately show it was deserving of a second term in charge of Barbados’ affairs. The numerous pressing matters, none more important than the economy, have not vanished because there was a general election on February 21.
In fact, issues such as the cost of living, resolving the CLICO debacle and high energy prices have become even more critical following the poll. The Prime Minister and his team should know that having given the DLP another chance to govern, Barbadians will be very unforgiving if they do not see promised improvements, honeymoon or not. Allocation of Cabinet portfolios and the individuals assigned to them will be the first clear indication of the Stuart’s intentions in the coming weeks and months.
Once the seats around the Cabinet table are filled and Parliament convened, citizens will get another signal of how the next year will go. The world economy is still in a perilous position, there will be no sudden influx of tourists from Britain, foreign exchange will not be anymore available than it was before the election.
Fuel prices will not be subsidised, there will be no cheaper electricity, taxes will not be removed from entertainment and travel allowances, value added tax will not be reduced.
These are realities an expectant public will have to face. Stuart will also have to realise that given the proximity of the election to one of the most important dates on government’s calendar, the Estimates, his honeymoon will likely be short-lived and possibly non-existent.