WRONG_WOEID WRONG_WOEID

Reelection Politics and Caribbean Society- Grasping the Problem

Reelection PoliticsIs a party seeking a new term in government the same as a government seeking reelection? No, there’s a significant difference! Any electorate that mistakes both will likely be victim of the latter!

In Westminster, elections are about two or more PARTIES contesting to form government.  Notice, we do not go to the polls to elect a government directly. We vote to elect a ‘ruling party’ which in turn appoints a government. Equally, we do not vote to reelect a government. The party in power campaigns to form government again for a new term; but accurately speaking we do not reelect a government.

Semantics; or irrelevant nuance! Definitely not! There is reason for the differentiation. Governments are executive bodies; parties are civic entities. By extension, governments have full access to all functionary aspects of state- and can readily manipulate these functionaries to keep themselves in office; whereas, parties can have no access to state resources/institutions for political purposes.

Distinguishing between party and government ought to inform expectations and judgments; and keep us alert regarding governmental reelection behavior. The distinction ought to also guide what we accept or reject in the name of public policy leading up to elections. Too often we are guilty of giving open or tacit consent to undesirable reelection behaviors by governments all because of misunderstood differences between party and government.

Just as a government isn’t directly elected or reelected by the people, neither is it to directly engage in reelection politics with the people. That function rightly must be organized and executed by its party.  Going to the people and making a political case for another opportunity to form government is the party’s function; not the government’s. Bottom line is governments have no right in reelection politics!



Once a government gets actively involved in seeking reelection directly, predictably, it will end up seeking to directly ‘reelect’ itself. Invariably the result will be hybrid policy-political strategies that turn state agencies and institutions into key functionaries of the reelection quest. At that point both people and nation are vulnerable; if not in jeopardy.  This ought not to be.

But isn’t this problem predictable, even inevitable? Isn’t the prime minister also political leader of the party in power? How many party cultures are disciplined enough to forestall the Executive from usurping the reelection campaign and furnishing it with state power and privilege?

In more mature jurisdictions there are protocols; even enshrined laws that criminalize governments which engage in electioneering behavior; and compromise state power, resources, and institutions.

Unfortunately reelection politics in Caribbean SIDS sees little difference between the party in power seeking a new term and the government seeking to retain office.  Caribbean people navigate reelection politics by simply accepting in stride the ambiguity between party and government and between prime minister and political leader.  As a result there is dysfunctional tolerance towards governments that subsume their party’s reelection campaign; and dysfunctional lenience regarding resultant abuse of state power in the exercise of reelection politics.
 
Little do we realize accommodating ambiguity between government and party in reelection politics opens the door to uncontrollable levels of state abuse from regime to regime!

From my observations, abuse of state resources/institutions by governments in their practice of reelection politics can be mapped along what I call a dysfunctional continuum- Meaning, a government’s deviant reelection behavior escalates along that continuum; and may range from unethical and immoral practices to abominable and diabolical conduct.
Unethical behaviors allude to: use of state agencies and services to advance campaign impact e.g. state vehicles, state media, political ads run and paid for by state agencies etc. Immoral behaviors comprise: use of state resources to buy votes e.g. giving away tax vouchers, lands, houses etc at election time.

Abominable behaviors include: use of national security, intelligence and jurisprudential information and structures for election advantage e.g. release of privileged information, convenient charges etc; may also include creating a national crisis to gain sympathy votes. Diabolical behaviors relate to: passage of ‘innovative’ laws; and tampering with electoral structures/protocols to derive electoral advantage.

In terms of Caribbean governments and the dysfunctional continuum, most tend to stay within unethical and immoral parameters and therefore are usually content with directly campaigning for people to reelect them. However a few have been known for seeking to directly ‘reelect’ themselves through acute deviant reelection behaviors that ventured into abominable and diabolical territory.

 Furthest sector on the continuum is termed diabolical particularly because actions in that perimeter assault and rape democracy. Democracy’s promise is that elections represent the people’s day of reckoning on the party elected to form government; and the government it appointed. That day of reckoning is what inhibits unbridled corruption, unmitigated arrogance, and unfettered disregard for service delivery. A government that enacts ‘innovative’ laws that tamper with electoral structures and institutions, notwithstanding rationalizations advanced, ought to be held in suspicion of diabolically seeking to neutralize the people’s day of reckoning. If successful, such government not only ‘reelects’ itself; but gets to enjoy unaccountable occupancy of office.

In the Caribbean context, how far the Executive ventures along the dysfunctional continuum is often dependent upon two primary factors: the moral compass of office holders, and the level of desperation to remain in office.

It is no comfort to realize both factors are correlated. Insecure governmental survival spells more intense reelection manipulation! Governments love power and the feel of it. Understandably, when up against the odds, they do all within their reach to retain it. But must all include unethical/immoral behavior; or abominable/diabolical conduct?  

At end of day democracy isn’t just threatened by absence of laws to protect it; but also by the presence of a willing desire to sacrifice it or undermine it in exchange for power retention.


(Author’s Note: This essay series pursues three tasks: explores what often goes wrong when governments seek reelection in Caribbean society; illustrates how the problem is manifested in the present election standoff in A&B; and suggests how we can best redress the identified dysfunction.

2nd installment of Reelection Politics &Caribbean Society will examine the question: Has Spencer’s regime crossed the line?).).

Raymond S. Edwards, Ph.D. Organizational Psychologist & Minister of Religion- is an International Development Consultant and Executive Leadership Specialist. © 04/10/14. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Reporting by Caribarena news, publishing by Ofer Shaked.

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16 Comments In This Article   

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@ Tenman

#16 Cecil Williams » 2014-04-20 17:01

Tenman,

I understand your childish tendency to shoot without careful thinking especially when defending the ALP regime. But pause a while my friend, and let's do some probing.

There is a BIG difference between DEFINING a general principle and using a case study to ILLUSTRATE the same. Whereas Edward indicated that this is a problem in the SIDS, he promised to apply his reelection abuse of framework specifically to the UPP/PM BS behavior.

I hope you would agree that a more nuanced application would be to compare how the ALP and the UPP abused electioneering behaviors, to further prove the point, which I suspect Edward wants to make, and that the UPP has violated reelection practices in an unprecedented manner.

Now Tenman, you may need to send 'Twentyman" to address this matter with your head, not with your gun. Over to you. But don't take more blows for the ALP, they are not worth it.
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Cecil Williams

Cecil Williams - comprehension problem?

#15 tenman » 2014-04-20 11:04

Quote:
If he applies his model to both the UPP and the ABLP, he would be seen as a balanced educator whose mission is to influence thought and action for enhanced democracy.
Cecil Williams your rant ignores this part of the article, which shows the writer evenly applying the brush:
Quote:
In more mature jurisdictions there are protocols; even enshrined laws that criminalize governments which engage in electioneering behavior; and compromise state power, resources, and institutions. Unfortunately reelection politics in Caribbean SIDS sees little difference between the party in power seeking a new term and the government seeking to retain office. Caribbean people navigate reelection politics by simply accepting in stride the ambiguity between party and government and between prime minister and political leader. As a result there is dysfunctional tolerance towards governments that subsume their party’s reelection campaign; and dysfunctional lenience regarding resultant abuse of state power in the exercise of reelection politics.
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tenman

A POLITICAL FARCE INDEED

#14 Cecil Williams » 2014-04-20 10:05

Edwards knows fully well how blind party lens determine how people see issues. Now, there's NO Way, he expects to apply the use of his dyfuctional reelection model to the UPP Govt alone and think that most reasonable readers won't see him as a paid takeout commentator. If he applies his model to both the UPP and the ABLP, he would be seen as a balanced educator whose mission is to influence thought and action for enhanced democracy.

I say this because both the ALP and the UPP have acted in exactly the same abusive ways while in Govt. These parties DONOT have any ideological distinct approach to good governance. Both lie, steal and hate their own people. Is Edward trying a cheap farce? Or is his pen too smart to be fair, wise and just? Edward can't fool intelligent people. Gaston and Dean will use him and discard him if they win. Watch and see...
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Cecil Williams

Good riddance

#13 Gripe water » 2014-04-17 10:01

Are you suggesting that the ALP politicians who robbed the public purse should be a part of nation building. If so, your argument of stopping what's wrong and starting what's right is inconsistent. No, I never suggest that whatever wrongs committed by the UPP should not be scrutinize, but at the same time it is noticeable that the wrongs of the ALL seems to be given a free oasis by the author.

Seriously, I do not expect to see anything critical of the ALP coming from the pen of injustice, but woeful sundry banter. The author is hired to carry out ALP program, part two of his unjust thesis will be no better. Good riddance my friend, I am on my way to the best beach in Antigua and the Caribbean, Fort.
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Gripe water

Thoughtfulness

#12 @Gripe Water » 2014-04-16 19:37

Nothing you’ve said inspires. Let the record show when called out for a response on the merits only woeful sundry banter came forth.

From my read the author is saying past Caribbean govts violated Westminster by venturing (to varying degrees) along what he calls a “dysfunctional continuum” in their practice of reelection politics. And that people ought to be sufficiently alert not to accept same from present or future govts.

Isn’t nation building all about stopping what’s wrong and starting what’s right?

You however seem to suggest since past ALP govts ventured along the continuum; we ought to at worst be silent, or at best accept, if the present UPP govt ventures along the continuum (even if to the furthest point). And that somehow the author’s article is partisan and diabolical because it doesn’t say ALP did it so UPP must be allowed to do it too. Seriously!!

Here was an opportunity to wax sapient; but alas you’re content to wallow in the shallow. Ah, well; go in peace my friend.
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@Gripe Water

Useless thesis

#11 Gripe water » 2014-04-16 16:22

Surely, it's essential to focus on the issues of nation building, progression of our kids, grand kids, ethical and moral conscience of governance. Dr. Edwards article is a plot against only one party, his thesis is ALP electioneering. Critically, election is on the front burner, it's the issue of today, but what happened prior to the reelection issue.

Think, of all the major problems involving State funds, about the scandalous political tapes, about Asot, Lester and Robin, I cannot recall seeing any article by Dr Edwards on transparent and accountability.

Where was his moral conscience concerning the moral decadence of Antigua under Lester Bird. Until Dr Edwards addresses the content of democracy without jaundice eyes and partisan pay off, his thesis is useless defecation.
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Gripe water

Thoughtfulness

#10 @Gripe Water » 2014-04-16 14:54

While its excusable to be passionate about party preference; don’t you think it’s much more essential to focus on the quality of nation our children and grandchildren will inherit? In that regard, rather than indulge in innuendo and prevarications, perhaps you may wish to engage the article on its merits. For example do you agree with the seminal thesis advanced by Dr. Edwards as a framework for analyzing reelection politics? And if not, how will you prefer we think about the issue of reelection politics (after all, it does impact the quality of our democracy)? That’s the type of contribution that will help to develop the region in general and the rock in particular. Over to you Gripe water; over to you.
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@Gripe Water

Diabolical analysis

#9 Gripe water » 2014-04-16 09:32

Philip Kennedy, I enjoyed reading your viewpoint, it was like an iron fist in a velvet glove. You agreed Dr Edwards is a hired pen, to prove he is lying is not too difficult. What is Edwards' view on democracy and who really crossed the line? Let us look at the rape of Antigua Treasury by former ALP ministers, isn't this in itself diabolical, using State funds to support ALPs election campaign. Or is it that Edwards is blinded by partisan politics and political ripoff supporting adversarial politics. Many now see what they want to see, except the facts.
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Gripe water

RE: Reelection Politics and Caribbean Society- Grasping the Problem

#8 Phillip Kennedy » 2014-04-15 06:11

Edwards uses a general observation in the wider Caribbean context about how govts use state funds to make sure their parties win, in order to make a more specific point that the UPP and PM BS is likely to be guilty of abuse.

He is from Trinidad and has worked for or is still working with Dean Jonas and the ALP. Hired hand is right. But does this mean he is lying because he's paid?
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Phillip Kennedy

@ Grip Water

#7 ANTIGUAN WOMAN! » 2014-04-14 22:36

Do you think that you are capable of shutting up everyone from expressing their views,which 99.99 % of times are far more well reasoned than your close minded colour blind opinions. Right&wrong for you appear to have a colour,well it does not.You cannot make wrong right because its done by one of your UPP ites,no more than I can make it right if its done by who we support. It do not take a genius to realize that there is a serious Abuse of power in the camp of the UPP Govt carrying on at this present time in our History,never before have I experienced soo much conflict/confusion surrounding an Elections. There can be nothing more serious than a Government interfering in the electoral process of a country.The writer could not use a better word to describe such actions" DIABOLICAL" It is evil; and your Myopic views will not change that.It is soo transparent that Stevie Wonder can see it. Listen to the PM,S latest outburst and see if you cannot detect a desperate power hungry no class individual.I am tired of reading your BS.
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ANTIGUAN WOMAN!

monkey trap

#6 tenman » 2014-04-14 15:48

Dr. Edwards makes some salient points. There truly needs to be a separation between party in power and government. Instead we see the mentality that once a party is in office it should be able to use state resources to engineer future election victory. We all have seen how ABS has been manipulated before and after 2004. The saga continues at APUA (before and after 2004). The continued games with duty free (before and after 2004). How can DCA be independent when its chairman (who sees himself as as also a GM) is also the chairman of the ruling party? The solution lies in the public making clear they will no longer stand for these kinds of actions. Probably hard to do when many in leadership of NGO's have their hands caught holding onto the proverbial banana in a hole too small to let pass both banana and hand
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tenman

Psychological approach

#5 Gripe water » 2014-04-14 15:18

Dig It, I know you love your country as much as I do, I can see the strategy employed by Edwards in this political season. Edwrads uses the Caribbean as a fig leaf to push his viewpoint about Antigua & Barbuda curreent political situation. His psychological approach has not fooled me, show me another Caribbean newspaper other than Antigua where his article is published. The article emphasises Antigua & Barbuda politcs, look at the question posed in the 2nd installment - Has Spencer’s regime crossed the line? Why did he not question if Gaston or PM Douglas cross the line, or if ALP is agitating against the Constitution. Edwards is a hired pen. Anyway, I will be at my favoruite hangout, going to Fort later, just to cool out.
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Gripe water

@Gripe water...party politics

#4 Dig It » 2014-04-14 14:13

Gripe water, you really missed the article's message! Please re-read without any "color" on your eyelid! This is not an attack on the PM and his cabinet. It is written in a Caribbean context (from regime to regime). Dr Edwards didn't call any names. Give the man some credit for even take the time to sit down and "educate" us. Can you do better? Guess your "partisan" allows you to miss the "unethical or immoral behaviors" of governments in reelection mode. You remind more and more of the blogger, PLM. Have a bless day.
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Dig It

A keeper!

#3 Dig It » 2014-04-14 13:59

Dr Edwards, a well-written and informative article! This is "keeper" for all residents/citizens and political parties for the Caribbean region to look at and engage in condtructive discussions! You have opened my eyes to what I have suspected all the time because state's resources can lead men and women to engage in "unethical behaviors" in reelection. The truth is that the people who entrusted these men and women tend to turn a blind-eye...they are concerned with their party winning at any cost...ethics is of little interest to them. They tend not to question how much state resources go into reelection campaigns!
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Dig It

Hired pen

#2 Gripe water » 2014-04-14 08:35

Oh my, oh my, oh my, the witch doctors are back with their predictions of doom and gloom. Where is this doctor from? rev Paul Edward and now dr Ray Edwards, related in their conviction to tout partisan ignorance about politics, electoral structures, diabolical conduct and PM Baldwin Spencer. No mention is made about who really crossed the line, about Lester and his gang of bandits. doctor Edwards have you met St.Peter, you know the moneybags from that area. Hired pen, lends a hired hand. I wonder if each word is worthy of your payment.
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Gripe water

Timely & Truthful

#1 Onlooker » 2014-04-14 06:37

Interesting, provoking and timely article! I don’t know how many folk may want to discuss this although it’s looking us in the face. Both sides have been guilty of the problem you site. But as long as some people benefit from the wrong actions of a government’s “reelection politics” I think the problem will live on. Still, as you suggest it’s a matter of how far a government goes in using state resources and institutions to reelect itself. Eagerly awaiting your verdict on the present government as well as your suggested fix for the problem!
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Onlooker

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Dr. Raymond S Edwards


 Dr. Raymond S. Edwards is a Columbia University trained organizational psychologist & international development expert; as well as a New York state certified staff development and training specialist. His consulting services include Cabinet retreats, Executive Team workshops and Organizational Change seminars. He is also an ordained minister, qualified educator, prolific writer and motivational speaker.

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