SOONER or later, the splitting of a few constituencies to create four additional ones was bound to stir up some debate. Even while the debate seems to have initially centred on the financial costs to the public purse, at least one incumbent Member of Parliament whose constituency was slashed considerably is crying foul.
Earlier this week, Castries South-East MP, Guy Joseph, filed a suit against Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, the Attorney-General and the members of the Boundaries Commission. In effect, Joseph’s claim is seeking that Governor-General Dame PearletteLouisy stays her hand in signing the Report which was passed in the Senate last week.
As does the Constitution dictate that a periodical review of the island’s electoral boundaries is perfectly legal, Joseph’s legal challenge is also constitutional. Whether he has a greater part to lose at stake than the other affected incumbent Members of Parliament whose constituencies were also reduced in land mass is for the court to decide.
However, it stands to reason that if the two people selected to represent the United Workers Party on the Commission had no issue in the exercise to realign the boundaries, then there exists a disconnect somewhere as far as those directly affected are concerned, namely the people representing or seeking to represent those constituencies in Parliament.
As is often the case with change, there will always be opposition to the way it is brought about. In this instance, Joseph’s grievance might elicit a strong and harsh reaction from some quarters. Nevertheless, it is within his right to raise questions about what he might deem questionable even if the majority of his peers think otherwise. That is his prerogative and the law allows for it.
Next general elections, one can already imagine political parties playing two best of three for the Gros Islet seats as well as doing their utmost to outdo each other in the other two new seats. The creation of the four new seats also tosses up the opportunity for political parties to establish “safe seats”. That will be a real challenge as the dynamics can change in the blink of an eye, as is seemingly the case with any incumbent parliamentarian feeling that his/his competitive edge has been diminished as a result of the newly-realigned electoral boundaries.