THE VOICE introduces a brand new column ANNOU PALE aimed at stimulating dialogue on some of the most pressing problems facing our country at this time.
We plan that this conversation will continue for some time throwing up ideas and solutions to the problems that have been identified and selected for discussion. You, the reader, have the opportunity to join the debate which in fact, has already started.
There seems to be growing concern among St Lucians about the level of politics practised on the island. Already this has produced a state of voter apathy that is unprecedented in St.Lucia with a less than 60 percent turnout at the polls in the last two general elections in 2006 and 2011. In recent years we have heard increasing statements by people of voting age that they will not exercise their franchise in the elections of 2016. Many are simply fed up with politics and the fact that it has not been able to produce the required results either for the people or for the country, in terms of bettering individual and national expectations.
Why is there such a resentment among the population to the quality of our politics? When did this trend really begin and what is the reason for it? Surely the quality of politics is dependent on the quality of persons we elect to office. Is there anything that can be done at this stage to entice people back to the polling booths? Let’s face it, bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. An American clergyman Howard Crosby once said that to let politics become a cesspool, and then avoid it because it is a cesspool; is a double crime. It means that we, the people, have the responsibility for righting our own wrongs.
So where do we go in St Lucia? With another general election fast approaching, should we not assume this responsibility and pressure political parties into presenting us with candidates who will uplift public discourse and so raise the standard of politics. But considering the fact that political parties seem to care so little what the public thinks about such issues, is there another way to bring them to heel?
New Views from our last Tuesday’s comments
Until politicians start serving the electorate and stop serving themselves, there will continue to be low voter turnout at general elections. If the public continues to be dissatisfied in the way politics are played, voter turnout will continue to drop. Maybe in 2016 it will drop below 50%, that would be a tragedy in our democracy. The only way the public can gain confidence in our politicians is if they start being transparent in their policies and actually stand for something. How many politicians are actually running on a platform? Jobs, education, social security, health care, the environment, ..that is not what they are platforming on. No, they bark at each other and the ignorant few vote for the loudest politician. Since when is that the role of politicians? We are more educated than the electorate of 40 years ago. We will not fall for house antics, lies and deceit. We need our politicians to do the work they were elected to do and not make a career our of getting re-elected. However, on the flip when we abstain from executing our rights to vote we allow the wrong persons to get elected. So, instead of being apathetic, at the 2016 elections we should show up in numbers and vote for the right people, no matter the colour of their T shirts. The only way we can effect change is if we demand it.
Well said Jay. We need to come together to demand change.
“The sad state of politics in Saint Lucia did not come about by accident. What I think has contributed to the problem in a major way is that supporters of political parties have allowed themselves to be consumed by the party’s direction – whether good or bad – as opposed to speaking up when their party errs.
The fact that so many people become disenchanted soon after they elect a government says something. The mere fact that Saint Lucians clamour for fresh elections mere weeks after the conclusion of a general elections prove that point as well. Not to mention the fact that many people think their stations in life are dictated by whether or not their party is in power.
As the saying goes, a people get the government they deserve. And especially when a large percentage of the voters do not acquaint themselves with what the electoral process truly means, what we end up with are square pegs being elected by a misshaped electorate to fill round holes. To be honest, politicians are not to be blamed since they quite often know that they are not capable of doing the jobs they are elected to do.
With another general election fast approaching, we the people on St. Lucia should come together and take what’s rightfully ours. What is rightfully ours by the way? Do we own this country of ours? Should it be legal for police to search automobiles without a warrant? Is it okay for police to tell drivers they have to consent to such a search? If a police officer searches a car without a warrant, should the police officer be arrested and put on trial? If not, why not?
If town hall meetings are intended for the politicians to learn what’s on our mind—why do they spend so much time talking instead of listening? – Politicians are refusing to attend town hall meetings complaining, without evidence, that they are scripted. Does that mean we shouldn’t come out and vote for you since every campaign stop, baby kiss and speech you give is scripted? – Why would you want to overwhelm the system? So many Questions we need to ask of our government. When shall we begin.
Some people seem to believe that there is merit in abstaining from voting, but to me that does nothing but ensure that we continue to get bad government. Someone will be elected even without our votes. Maybe the solution is in people coming together in pressure and advocacy groups to fan the flames of those issues that confront us as a country and DEMAND action and change.
At the moment there is a serious vacuum in political leadership in St Lucia and as long as it exists it means that we will continue to get the calibre of politicians that we have at the moment. The drive for change will have to come from the top, from people who see the need for change and are determined to do something to obtain it.
Sadly here in the Caribbean with the dominant two-party system we do not seem to go to the polls to vote parties into govt office, instead, we got to the polls to vote govt out of office. Instead of being trapped between choosing to elect ‘the lesser of two evils’, our constitution should be amended to state that citizens can withhold a vote for a seat or for a candidate, or vote against a candidate, and where a candidate has been voted as “unwanted by the people” a bi-election should be held with a fresh slate of candidates. This will force political parties to select better candidates.
In my opinion, The biggest problem is that St. Lucians tend to be too coward to stand up for what they truly believe in. No matter how much it is drummed into our heads that the PEOPLE are the ones with the true power, we continue to stand wide eyed looking at each other to see who will make the first move and of course, when no one does, then the problems remain.
We need to stand and collectively break from the norms and really pick the people who are right for the job and will put the nation before their pockets and to be quite honest, the crop of politicians we have right now, they wouldn’t know what’s best for the nation if a manual jumped up and slapped them in the face…and I would like to emphatically state that I think this of both yellows and reds, I have no preference!
Until we put into practice that massive power that we hold at the tip of our pencils, then we are just running around in blind circles, doomed to believe that the spit coming towards our eyes is rain.
Let’s fix the nation’s level of confidence and courage first, then and only then can we look forward to the “other stuff”.
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