Charting a new path  

The island of Barbados has a reputation among nations of being an excellent example for democratic governance. We have regular elections which are free and for the most part, fair. The Government changes smoothly, and the process is not marred by either physical violence or by desperate attempts of the defeated administration to hold unto power. Candidates win their seats in the House of Assembly by slender margins and can proceed without rancor from the defeated candidates.

Ostensibly our election process is well managed. Yet, the political climate is characterized by political tribalism, cronyism and nepotism that result in tremendous tension among Barbadians around election time. Immediately after elections, especially if there is a change in administration, there is always a certain level of anxiety, frustration, and sometimes fear as public sector employees wait to see how the new Government will view election activities.

Many business persons report that they have lost Government contracts, and have been ostracized because of their real or perceived political affiliation. Indeed, a number of companies were obliged to look beyond Barbados for their survival.

This uneasiness abounds in Barbados to such an extent that it extends to acts of sabotage at some of our key Government-run institutions by persons in non-managerial positions when their political party is not in office. Some have come to the conclusion that this behaviour perpetuates itself because of the Barbados political system, essentially a duopoly made up of the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party.

Persons grow up knowing the historical party allegiance of their families and tend to support that party uncritically, heedless of the effects of its polices or track record.  It is highly unlikely that this encourages sustainable development of our island. In recent times, the obvious failure of economic and societal policies has precipitated a crisis of confidence in the traditional patterns of party support. We already have noticed voter turnouts of less than 55% in Barbados. This disconnection from, and decline in civic engagement, is a direct result of the electorate’s disenchantment with the current two party system.

French political scientist, Pierre Rosanvallon, made an interesting observation in his book Democratic Legitimacy: “Citizens are increasingly conscious of the way in which they are governed. They want to be listened to and reckoned with. Around the world, survey after survey has shown that a central concern of people everywhere is that political leaders should share their experiences and consult them about what ought to be done.”

Barbadians are citizens of the world, so it comes as no surprise that they share in this universal sentiment. They too are frustrated with a political system that is devoid of transparency and accountability. They have grown weary of a system where corruption is endemic and tolerated as inevitable.

The decline in the ability and quality of members of the two aged political parties is an opportunity to deepen and widen our democracy with an infusion of fresh ideas and political actors. Unfortunately, however, because national politics has become a lifelong career, few members of civil society think of standing for election to parliament and changing that thinking is as much a part of the process as introducing innovative ideas about policy.

The United Progressive Party (UPP) has assembled a team of sincere and dedicated individuals with a shared vision to transform our moribund political landscape. A key factor in fashioning a new political atmosphere is the integration of civil society and the notion of the common good.

Civil society is strengthened when concerned citizens see a shortfall in social provision, and they organize themselves to do something about it. Their initiatives can be ad hoc and informal, or more permanent, such as charities, community organizations, professional associations, pressure groups and think tanks.

The UPP model is built on ensuring that a wider cross section of our community is involved in the decision making process, that our policies are progressive and tailored to suit our unique environment by addressing current and emerging issues rather than issues that we have been told are important by external agencies.

2 Responses to Charting a new path  

  1. Jus me August 18, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    As in all life, things evolve.
    We have long since evolved beyond
    “Corned beef and crackers”
    DLP and BLP are archaic remnants of that age.

    R I P
    To both.

    Barbados needs to attend to their funeral arrangements.

    We at our peril, to take on any quasi dictators as
    we have in Fruendel Stuart.

  2. jrsmith August 18, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Yes Barbados/ bajans definitely need to chart a new path, to add from ( paragraph 7) democratic legitimacy ) that boat have sailed in barbados long ago , our politicians have made sure of that , in barbados bajans is scared and frighten to publicly speak out…….
    Thats why we need to take back our country , we should not allow ever again no political party hold bajans to ransom and lock our people down … …..
    When you have a government who cannot tick any boxes for what they haven’t done in barbados in 9 years , swan around barbados as thought they are premadonnas , just a bunch of wankers…….

    We need a piece of legislation in barbados ASAP before the up coming elections ,namely so an act the ( Accountability Act 2017 )
    which gives the automatic right to the voters, to be able to remove from office , using the same votes any (MP) who is not doing his job by working for and in the interest of the people …
    What would be the outcome , if this present government is return to office after the up coming elections ….. We are done for……..


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