Myths about ‘third parties’

Barbados is currently experiencing a political renaissance. Our electorate has become more educated and politically sophisticated. As a result, they have been sensitized to the level of corruption and the lack of transparency and accountability in our political system.

This has generated a renewed interest in politics and governance; this year alone has seen the emergence of at least three new political entities. In 1956, W.E.B Du Bois (one of the most staunch advocates of voting rights early in his life) penned, Why I Won’t Vote. In that article, he argued that continued disregard for the most vulnerable persons in society should lead to a concerted effort to resist limited choices, and inspire building spaces for new candidates and systems. Choosing to advocate for a new political possibility isn’t a waste; it’s a right, and a duty of members of a democratic society.

It is now time to address the misconceptions surrounding the new political options.

Myth 1: We have only had two political options as an electorate in Barbados.

The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) contested the 1956 General Elections in Barbados as a new political party winning four seats; the Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM), also new, didn’t win any seats. The other parties in that election were the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), which won fifteen seats; and the Progressive Conservative Party (PCP) which won three. Two Independents also won their seats.

Myth 2: You need 30 candidates in order to be considered to be a serious political party.

No party in that 1956 election presented the 24 candidates which would have represented a full slate at that time. The BLP had 19 candidates, the DLP 16,  the PCP 13, and the PPM four. Additionally, there were 11 Independents. The BLP won the elections and formed the Government.

Myth 3: Political parties only winning a few seats cannot make an impact.

One only has to look at the experience of political parties across the region and the world to debunk this myth. There are 650 seats in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. In the last UK elections held a few months ago, the Conservative Party (Tories) were left with 317 seats; making them a minority Government. This forced Mrs. May, the Tory leader, to negotiate with the Democratic Unionist Party who only won 10 seats in order to form a government. The Tory Government is now having to depend on this comparatively small party of 10 representatives vs 317 to agree on government policy before the other checks and balances through Parliament.

In St. Christopher and Nevis,  the prime minister is the only member of his People’s Labour Party (PLP) with a seat in the House of Assembly. There are three other parties and 11 constituencies, but none of the other parties won six seats.

If a political party can win a small amount of seats in a country as big as the United Kingdom, and as small as St. Christopher, and still make an impact; then surely it can be done in Barbados.

Myth 4: New parties need to immediately release a manifesto.

A manifesto is that document that is published during a General Election campaign which seeks to align party ideology with immediate objectives during the upcoming political term. A manifesto is issued by parties after a general election is announced.

Before election time, parties circulate and discuss their policies.

Myth 5: You need 10 years to seriously expect to make an impact as a party so it is better to sit out the first election.

Recently, elections in France and Bermuda proved this statement to be incorrect. Electorates who have been asked to pay higher taxes are requesting more accountability with public funds. 

While emerging as a political powerhouse organically is a nice ideal, it is not realistic. Whether a party is in existence for one, five or 10 years, the first time it contests elections will still be the first time. Its impact will depend on how closely aligned its policies are with the general sentiment in the country and not with its age. 

 

Source: (Lynette Eastmond is leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP). Email: voteupp@uppbarbados.org. Website: www.uppbarbados.org)

4 Responses to Myths about ‘third parties’

  1. Vernon Harris
    Vernon Harris August 25, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Some of these third parties were only formed after certain persons couldn’t win a nomination in another party. Myth or truth?

    Reply
  2. jrsmith August 25, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    As I am always saying , the so call new party thing is as like the feel of the civil rights movement in the US going no where………..
    Would we ever see a coalition government in barbados , never , ever so long rum, corned beef and biscuits exists………………….
    What we need in barbados is a bit of legislation to control this lot of non productive politicians, the bunch who only look after themselves and the 1%ers………………Making sure our people is in lock down , both frighten and scared……….
    We need an act of parliament the (Accountability Act 2017 ) to make sure our politicians know they place, to make sure they will never treat our black people as they did in the past 9 years ever again… this act will automatically fall in place as the same votes cast to put the (MPs) in office ,the same vote is there to remove them , if they are not working on behalf our people…………..
    Bajans just think if this present government wins the next election we are done, unless we can get the useless politicians out other 5 years of total disaster………..They will be back in power…………

    Reply
  3. Derek August 25, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I am voting for the DLP in the next election whenever its called because its the most viable of options unless something happens between now and then to change my mind .

    Reply
  4. $2 September 23, 2017 at 8:54 am

    The practice of missing the point is strong in you!

    Reply

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