Stuart Going Where His Predecessors Failed to Tread
Tomorrow will be the last sitting of parliament before it is dissolved. Under the Constitution of Barbados the Prime Minister can- and it appears he will- extend his government into the 90 day unchartered discretionary period within which a general election must be called. This decision by the government to loiter in Government House against a less than stellar performance and deteriorating social landscape without calling for a mandate from the people, has seen a crescendo of public debate about when will the general election be called. The delay serves to deflate an already low confidence level by civil society which comingles with the notion that not much gets done in a lame duck period of government. The Stuart government seeks to prove 20 million Frenchmen wrong.
Since Barbados weaned itself from under the Union Jack it has nurtured a reputation of being a politically stable country, in fact a model studied by the world. That this government would rupture a well earned reputation by a wanton disregard for the niceties and conventions of a system of government we claim to follow is a worry. The reality is that when parliament is dissolved all ‘seats’ are declared vacant. The Cabinet will continue to function in their roles but without the oversight of parliament. This is where abuse of power can be questioned. Is it worth the reputational damage to secure a couple months in office during a time when it is accepted that the country will mark time until the genera election is over?
In an interesting parallel albeit ironic that the ruling communist party of China plans to remove the 10 year restriction on the president. If achieved it will see the all powerful President Jinping continuing in office possibly for life. Experts opine that this is China’s signal to the world that it has no interest in dismantling a system of government which has served it well enough to be the global power economic superpower it has become. The flipside to the irony unfolding in China was the decision by the UK government in 2011 to impose fixed term elections every five years. The Act allows for a variation if by a two thirds majority a no confidence vote is successful.
If we examine the decision by Stuart against what is unfolding in China by following a path which precedent and convention in our Wesminsterlike model of government does not support, AND, one that departs from the decision taken by the UK government in 2011 to impose fixed term elections then it is clear Barbados is playing the Rh with how we govern.
It is instructive President David Granger of Guyana declined to attend the 38th HOGs Summit in Haiti but Prime Minister Freundel Stuart essays no similar concerns with foreign reserves at about 4 weeks and the country gripped in abeyance.
It is also instructive that members of the Stuart Cabinet would have allowed partisan politics to define the non existent legacy they richly deserve.