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Issue: Time for fixed election date
published: Saturday | July 7, 2007

Undoubtedly, Jamaica has come a long way in terms of making sure that the will of the people is manifested on election day. We can be justly proud of our electoral system. However, there are some related issues that we need to deal with as a nation, once and for all.

If Jamaicans do not like the idea of a fixed election date, no one individual who has a personal interest in the outcome of the election should have the power to set the date for that election. I suggest that the Electoral Commission, the Governor-General, or even the Political Ombudsman set the date for general elections when they are constitutionally due.

This would not eliminate guessing, predictions and speculations about this all-important date, but this would level the playing field somewhat in that someone other than a participant in the race would declare the start of the race.

We also need to decide what should happen when a senator or member of parliament crosses the floor. These are matters that are hotly debated by a number of Jamaicans. The consensus seems to be that the senator should leave the Senate and that the seat of the Member of Parliament should be declared vacant and a by-election held so that the people are given the opportunity to decide whether or not they want the Member of Parliament to continue to represent them.

The political gymnastics carried out by one politician in pursuing his goal of being mayor will never be erased from the minds of many Jamaicans. Whatever needs to be done to prevent a recurrence of such a situation should be done.

Representing the people who elect them should always be the most important thing to our political representatives. We need to examine the rules and plug all the loop holes that allow people to be self-serving.

As election day draws near, my hope is that as Jamaicans, we will bear in mind that this is one Jamaica. It is in the best interest of all Jamaicans for us to live in peace and harmony, as a matter of course, whether or not we change course. We definitely need to change some of the things that we do before and after election day.

-Winnie Anderson-Brown

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