Kenrick Georges: A Representative who changes sides in Parliament should seek new mandate from the electorate

Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 17th 2013 (CUOPM) – A prominent Kittitian has joined the growing chorus that when a Parliamentary Representative in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly wants to change sides in the law making body, he or she should resign and seek a new mandate.

“This is the only way that a voter’s choice, as is expressed in his or her vote, can be respected and honoured. I am hoping that these concerns are considered, when the task of amending the constitution is undertaken in the very near future,” said Kenrick Georges, author of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Anthem “O Land of Beauty.”

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In his latest blog, Georges stated that the current political season has yielded more clarity regarding what rights voters really have as citizens than any other time in its history as an independent state.

“It has now been proven that the constitutional provision for the vote is not clearly defined. What we have learned, thus far, is that the representatives have more rights to the vote than the citizens themselves: this is what the opposition operatives want the people to accept. However, for the voter to salvage his or her exclusive right to vote, and to choose, the voter has no other recourse than to await a constitutional amendment to alleviate this problem,” said Georges.

“The brilliance and the intelligence of the framers of our constitution cannot be taken for granted; neither is their cunning. I made the point to a PAM operative that our constitution was customized to suite the PAM administration, under which the document was drafted. But with the usual evasive verbal manoeuvre, He said; ‘You mean the government.’ The idea here is that the government, formed by any party, is the beneficiary of the constitution and its deliberate intent. I believe that it would also cover the omission of the timeline in the MONC clause, but the opposition vehemently rejects that intent,” said Georges.

“We are asked to accept the idea that voters vote for a representative, in isolation: end of matter. And the opposition operatives insist that, at the time of the act of voting, party affiliation is of no consequence. So I ask: what use are the symbols that appear beside the names of the candidates? Isn’t each party represented on the ballot by a symbol? Dr. Harris, for instance, has recently declared that he ran on “Harris again,” and not with the Labour party in the 2010 general elections. If the constitutional intent is for the representatives to be independently chosen, and not in affiliation with a political party, then, why doesn’t the constitution require each representative to have his or her exclusive symbol?” he asked.

He said: “Our right to have our vote counted where we choose is in question, if a candidate can move from bench to bench at will in Parliament. Under those conditions, there is no real guarantee of maintaining a consistently stable functioning government. It can only be a deliberate act of betrayal, knowing that the voters vote for a candidate, based on political party affiliation, but the candidate transfers the vote to another party in total breach of a simple social contract.”

Mr. Georges further stated: “If there certainly is a constitutional right to vote, then, the constitution should expressly state that right without ambiguity. Thus, if a candidate is returned as a member of a particular political party, then as a representative, he or she should not be permitted to transfer that mandate to another party. When a representative wishes to change sides in Parliament, that representative should resign and seek a new mandate. This is the only way that a voter’s choice, as is expressed in his or her vote, can be respected and honoured. I am hoping that these concerns are considered, when the task of amending the constitution is undertaken in the very near future.”

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