A new political system is possible in Saint Lucia, as impossible as it may seem. I am not talking of a new political party. I am talking of a new system. While constitutional change will complete its full implementation, it does not take constitutional change to start the process. I have often lamented the shortcomings of this present political system and I have proposed consensus government as an alternative. I am not advocating a one party system. I do not believe in party politics.
The first and fundamental prong of the Independent Model is that all candidates in a general election do so on an independent ticket. In a past article I stated that we do not need to change the constitution for this to happen.
The Elections Act allows for independent candidates. The stumbling block may come with our archaic laws, where we do not have a sufficient number of electoral symbols should 17 people decide to run independent.
There was an electoral year, I think it was in 2006 when there were proposed changes to be made to the electoral act, that would have included among other things being able to make your mark with a stamp, rather than a pencil. What has happened to that? I can only suppose that it has been shelved: two elections have passed since.
I am making the call again for all constituencies to fill in an independent candidate in the next general election whenever it is called. I have made it known publicly that I will be contesting the Anse La Raye/Canaries seat whenever the next elections are called.
It has always been my persuasion that if in 2011 there was a viable alternative, neither of these major parties would have stood a chance. I am told by a lot of young people that the electorate, which is more educated, is a lot more discerning. I want to believe that.
For the past decade plus I have been championing the cause for a new political system in Saint Lucia. Many people have said to me that this will never happen in my lifetime but I believe it can and even if it does not materialize at least I would have started the journey.
“The journey of a thousand mile starts with a footstep”. The time for independents will come and it may be sooner that we envisage. We have the example of the Cayman Islands in their last elections where the majority of the winners were independent candidates. It is only a matter of time before this happens in Saint Lucia.
What do independent candidates have going for them? An increase in the margin of swing voters in Saint Lucia; an increase in the number of people who are disenfranchised with the two party system; a high percentage of people who do not vote. We have all this to tap into.
While one independent who wins in a general election in Saint Lucia can be fundamental, especially if the results were an 8-8-1 scenario (the 1 being independent), a number of independents getting to the house can drastically change the balance of power in parliament.
The start to the changing of the political system in Saint Lucia is for more people to put themselves up as Independent Candidates. The second step is for the electorate to vote in the right persons. But who are those right people? (More on that in the next article)