Term divide

Minister Inniss and political scientist differ on following T&T’s constitutional changes

A senior government minister is saying no way to Barbados following in Trinidad and Tobago’s steps to set term limits for prime ministers, but a leading political scientist is suggesting it’s the direction this country needs to go.

General Secretary of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Donville Inniss strongly rejected the notion after the Parliament in Port-of-Spain passed a Constitutional Amendment Bill that sets a two-term limit for prime ministers among other constitutional changes.

The Bill also allows for the recall of legislators who don’t perform, and a run-off election if a successful candidate fails to secure 50 per cent of the votes cast in a poll – steps that Peter Wickham told Barbados TODAY are good for democracy and should be followed by the Freundel Stuart administration.

But Inniss, the Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development insisted that a country should not get rid of a leader who was making an excellent contribution to national development based on term limits.

Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss.

“You should not discard that individual like that. So because he may have served two terms, which is eight years . . . it doesn’t mean that you must be put out to pasture. Sometime we say ‘let us go with term limits’, oblivious to the fact that term limits may then impose upon society, political organisations, parties and governments, a very substandard system that either doesn’t allow the best to emerge or stay at the top,” he said.

Inniss insisted that the focus should be on limiting the powers of prime ministers within the Westminster system, although making it clear that he was not making any reference to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

He added that the issue of recalling a Member of Parliament who is not performing well is not high on the administration’s agenda.

“Those of us who offer ourselves to be parliamentary representatives have to go through a very difficult period. We have to get out there and offer ourselves to people. People must know who we are, what we stand for and I believe,  therefore, there must be constant dialogue between MPs and their constituents. I would not want a system where 100 people in a constituency that has a voting population of 10,000 decide that they don’t like you for whatever reason and they go out there on some witch hunt and a serious campaign to recall you,” Inniss added.

But Wickham described the decision by Trinidad and Tobago as one which is “very, very good for democracy”.

“ . . . I don’t see anything objectionable in those proposals. I think those proposals would really enhance democracy in Trinidad and Tobago and I find that it is substantially more significant than Eric Williams’ changes in 1970s to become a republic,” he said, commending Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for “the noble act” of surrendering significant power.

“There are very few prime ministers who are as brave as her. But I definitely think that it is a change that is needed in all Caribbean countries, bearing in mind that the only country that has term limits is Guyana. Trinidad would now become the second and I think it does indicate where all of the Caribbean countries need to be going . . . So all the proposals to me reflect the developments in democracy that we ought to look to.”

Meantime, Jamaican political scientist Professor Neville Duncan told Barbados TODAY that at least one aspect of the legislation should be avoided by Barbados.

He was far from happy with the proposal to have a run-off if a successful candidate does not secure half of the votes in an election.

“I think in more ethnically dominant countries a run-off election might bring some benefit. I think people made their first choices and now they are told to make a choice that is second best. I don’t see what good is served by that. I think you make your first choice and you win or lose by it,” he said.

“It’s difficult for me overall to feel that in countries like Barbados, or Jamaica or St Lucia, or St Vincent and the Grenadines or wherever could benefit from that development,” the political scientist added.



7 Responses to Term divide

  1. Tony Webster August 13, 2014 at 5:15 am

    I agree with “Hon. Minister of Ruling Forever”…provided he can just get Jesus to run here in Christ Church East. Becausin’ Jesus would do an “excellent Job”, and not be afficted by ills (moral, medical, and pyschological), that befall mere mortals. In any event, if Jesus (God Help Us), slip-up pon de job, we can in any event pray to God Almighty Himself and get Him recalled before he runneth dis blessed country into da ground.
    I cannot quote the Good Book like my brother; but dimly resonates something ’bout “giving…and tekking-away” And Blessed be those who have eyes, ears, brains, and does ‘nuse all of them!
    Maybe, we should just ask our dear democratic friend Robert, over-an-away there in Zimbabwe, how to make a few “adjustments” to our constitution!

  2. Edwards Swindley
    Edwards Swindley August 13, 2014 at 9:17 am


  3. Edwards Swindley
    Edwards Swindley August 13, 2014 at 9:30 am

    INNISS said, “”” a country should not get rid of leader who is doing a good job”””, he is better than JOE TUDOR as a COMEDIAN & just as current.

  4. Lindsay Farmer
    Lindsay Farmer August 13, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Inniss added that the issue of recalling a Member of Parliament who is not performing well is not high on the administration’s agenda.

    Of course it isn’t. It would mean that most, if not ALL of the present set would be up for recall.

  5. jr smith August 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    People dont worry, we soon will be TTB. I would agree with some of the statement, I always thought voters rights are always neglected , voters should have the rights ,if the person they voted for is not performing ,a vote of no confidence ,should be enough to replace the looser.
    Take heart we have a woman leader on her third term in office , of the only performing strong economy in europe.Germany.
    We need to shake up politics in barbados thats the real issue, people casts they vote sit back and expect the politicans to do the job of running the island and they lives.
    At the present time families are falling a part, because they dont know the economical way for they family survival. They are lost.

  6. Andrea Rollins August 13, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    As a Barbadian who has been living out of Barbados for 12 years but who still loves her country and her people, I grew up thinking that most politicians including Barrow, Adams & St. John cared about the growth, development & financial well-being of this country and its people. I no longer believe this after reading a couple months ago about how they all got into power and protected themselves from never losing any portion of they pensions, salary security and all subsequent benefits. They seem to care more about themselves 1st and enjoying the Power, Prestige an Financial benefits of there position.

    How many Barbadians are aware that you currently have no power to vote out or change any politician (except during general elections) as the system is constructed to protect them even when they do not do the job elected by the people to perform. Barbados is look at as a Leader in the Caribbean; Economically, Socially and I thought Politically but it cannot be so if we are being told by our elected officials clearly {NO we do not want to change the system that currently exist to protect only us the politician} but does nothing to encourage a truly strong democratic system. We are not leading the Caribbean anymore and it seems we are also not being giving any choice about if we want to follow (this outrages me).

    I for one would like the right to help decide on big policy changes in Barbados and I hope that sooner than later Barbados can have democracy of the people, ran by the people, for the benefit of all its peoples.

    One Suggestion is Maybe a high number of signatures collected from Voting Barbadian would help our ministers to make decisions about what we prefer not just what they want. Better systems exist so why should we not research them, make it usable for our country and put them into place. We have got more than enough intelligent Barbadians to help make this possible (at least that’s what our educational system lead me to believe).

  7. Rickie Nurse August 15, 2014 at 12:17 am

    I am not one bit surprise at Donville Inniss’s rejection of the stance that Trinidad has taken in respect to limiting the terms of a Prime Minister.
    Persons like him who claim to have the peoples interest at heart, when in fact the only interest that they are going to look out for is their own. Knowing fully well that they won’t be able to achieve their personal objectives if a time limit is placed on their ministerial life.
    As it stands right now they are all hoping for some miracle to happen that would see them regain office come the next election. I may dare to say, May God have mercy on our souls if that should happen.


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