The Cost of More Seats

WITH the next general elections giving Saint Lucians the opportunity to vote in a record number of constituencies – 21 – it definitely will be interesting to find out how candidates fare in especially the newly-created ones.

While a 9-8 seat margin would have done the trick for any party seeking office in the past, the new winning equation is 11-10. Even as the debate rages on as to whether the country can afford to foot the additional costs associated with these new constituencies, what also needs to be considered is whether the people can expect better representation from their district representatives.

Notwithstanding the above-mentioned concerns, the timeliness of the realignment of boundaries needs to be applauded. With the general elections due in less than two years’ time, it seems appropriate that if a move such as that needed to be made, the right timing would be of essence. When one considers that even before they held their Conference of Delegates on September 21 last year the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) gave this March as the deadline for their candidate selection for the next general elections, the changes seemingly came at the right time.

Granted that the argument about parity of representation for constituencies seems sensible, it now means that the size of government would be increasing. Four additional constituencies might certainly create equality among the district representatives in terms of the people they represent. But an additional cost to a people who seem adamant that neither party is doing its best to address critical issues affecting the country takes on a different tone and colour. As more is given, more is expected.

As is usually the case, it will take a considerable length of time before the new changes resonate with Saint Lucians. The mere stroke of a pen or overwhelming “ayes” in the House of Assembly saying something is official does not translate to people readily acquiescing to it.

Last Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony did indicate in the House of Assembly that should the distribution of Saint Lucia’s population warrant another review of the boundaries in the future, appropriate measures will be taken to rectify the situation. That could mean either less or more constituencies. For the sake of the public purse, Saint Lucians seem more willing to revert to 17 constituencies than should, say, 25 ever become the norm.

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