WRONG_WOEID WRONG_WOEID

Reelection Politics and Caribbean Society - Part II Has Spencer’s Regime Crossed the Line

Love of power(Preamble: This installment reviews UPP’s strategy against the backdrop of reelection politics discussed in Part I; and in the context of the brewing crisis. Consequences of their strategy are also addressed.)

The unfolding elections drama in A&B highlights strategic gamesmanship, constitutional issues, and democracy concerns. But the real danger lurks where these dynamics intermix.

As the UPP government enters borrowed time; the prime minister seems caught in upstream currents with no life jacket. While UPP foot soldiers; and the wider citizenry rightly look to the prime minister for the election date; he looks to the opposition leader. 




Hon. Baldwin Spencer is the only Caricom leader I know ever to claim the opposition is preventing elections. In Caribbean Westminster, elections are often sprung on the opposition as a surprise element of our politics. This is one clear tactical advantage the ruling party legitimately owns.  

Attorney General Simon wisely stopped short of echoing the prime minister’s folly.  Still, his sundry noises provide little confidence the government has a way out of its tangled web. How did the UPP get trapped with clock ticking away? What could have gone so woefully wrong?!

My take is UPP’s campaign has been usurped by government reelection obsession; and strategies of that obsession have backfired. Like Icarus of Greek mythology they’ve flown too close the sun, melted their wings, and crashed. Like Hammann of Bible fame they’re hung on gallows built by their own hands for the ABLP. In effect they are their own best-worst enemy! But we might be getting too far ahead.


While the UPP sweats and courts (pun intended) a constitutional crisis, their quandary is an object lesson against building political strategy on naughty proclivities rather than on insightful acumen and sound performance. It’s also an object lesson against violating tenets of democracy in order to sure up electoral outcomes. Perhaps we’re still ahead of ourselves

The genesis of UPP’s woes is a ten year record of: economic policies with little returns, negligible service delivery, invidious corruption; and rank ‘bad mind’ towards all with whom they disagreed – All this after been ushered in with a blaze of populist glory, 2004. Talk about squandered public trust!!

Leading into 2014 elections the party was facing a million dollar question: how to argue a third term before the electorate with vastly dwindled public trust – Especially after narrow escape in 2009? This is a plight most ruling parties face after two terms. But the UPP’s problem was compounded by its government’s creeping arrogant, incestuous relationship with office and power; and their obsessive affliction of not being able to conceive of letting go. Their conjured up solution to escape the party’s problem and satisfy the government’s affliction is what this present stalemate is really all about.

To satisfy both problem and affliction the UPP high command decided not only that government must assume party function; but must also utilize the entire dysfunctional continuum of reelection politics open to an Executive. So in words of Shakespeare’s Macbeth “they leapt over themselves and landed on the other side” in their use of that which is abominable and diabolical in terms of state power and reelection behavior.

 The UPP government’s practice of state power in reelection politics is manifest in two clear strategies:

1.    The mysterious but strategic incremental appearance in the public domain of evidentiary tapes held in possession by the state; instead of their proper prosecutorial use for brining wrong doers to justice (abominable behavior).

2.    The unmitigated commandeering and rampant abuse of the elections, and boundaries commissions; and the unilateral passing of parliamentary legislation affecting operations within both bodies (diabolical conduct).

The 1st apparent reelection strategy has failed to yield expected advantage for three main reasons: the political shelf life of the corrupt label against the ABLP is waning because no convictions match the label; the UPP itself is tainted by fairly egregious corrupt allegations, suggesting they simply wanted opportunity to do the same rather than govern with promised chastity; the prevailing cynicism that corrupt allegations are pursued more for political mileage than for issues of justice on behalf of citizens.

The apparent 2nd strategy and its imagined objectives seemed designed to accomplish three things: deliberately disenfranchise voters perceived sympathetic to the opposition; deliberately reduce marginal and opposition leaning constituencies, while increasing government leaning constituencies; and deliberately cause serious infighting and destabilization among opposition candidates. By and large the opposition has been able to stave off the onslaught of this potentially disruptive strategy by wise use of the courts; and instead of falling apart with in fighting, apparently has outfoxed the government re potential constituency reassignments.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister’s less than coded messages, along with the Attorney General’s ill advised letter to the Appeals Court only serve to further attest these issues are in fact all about political endgames. The only real urgency that attends is a politically strategic one. I can hardly see the Appeals Court allowing its schedule to be influenced by the whimsical beckons of political strategy posing as national urgency. Despite their reluctance, the UPP may have to face the tournament with the very same chess board with which they coincidentally won the last two times around; but somehow now seem to disdain.


When a government employs furthest points on the dysfunctional continuum to retain office, it has to be asked: what available options; and what psychological mindset influenced their desperation?

Was it possible for the UPP to up their governance game and win back the electorate; instead of trying to ‘fix’ things to ‘reelect’ themselves?  To do so, noticeable add value minds and ideas would have had to be brought into the cabinet after 2009. This was not done. In addition, existing ministers had reached their levels of competency yet retained an incestuous love for office. This meant Enterprise Resource Planning remained unmatched by Human Capital Skills within cabinet. As a result the government was always going to be in serious deficit for restoring public trust in time for 2014.

Notwithstanding its own weakness, had UPP utilized political acumen of surprise elections at the opposition’s weakest point- emergence under a marginal new leader following their bitterly divided leadership convention, that would have been a wiser course of action than resorting to egregious violations of democratic principles.

Something else illuminates the dark psychological mindset of the UPP high command and their afflicted addiction to office and power; and perhaps helps explain their dangerous determination. As pitiful as it sounds, a UPP leadership secret is their deeply cherished social justice sentiment which claims the A&B electorate owes them tenure in office equal to the 28 years given to the ALP. Such justified rationalizing can easily endear the Burnhamesque didactic- no government in power should ever lose an election. If such indeed ‘justice’ claim drives their determination it puts perspective on the aggressive surreptitious legislation re the Electoral Body, the boundaries structure and Voting Rights Act. And helps explain why said bills were rammed through parliament (above screams of the opposition).  

One only has to observe the manner, timing and extent of interferences with electoral processes to surmise predetermined intent to legislatively influence electoral outcomes. No need for this essay to engage merits or demerits of proposed legislation affecting the voting act, the electoral body, and the boundaries structure. The 2009-2014 UPP tenure is court appointed; more so by a split decision. In terms of democratic principles, this makes them not more than a caretaker administration. Meaning, on their own they simply did not have the moral or democratic legitimacy to legislatively go anywhere near electoral institutions unless such legislation has full parliamentary consent of the peoples’ opposition.

It is high time Caribbean politicians all come to a sobering reality that love of self, love for office and love of power are the least qualifying characteristics for successful performance in office. A government deficient in human capital skills necessary for the complex enterprise resource planning that a state demands; but nonetheless rich in love for power is nothing but a democracy accident waiting to happen. Such government will always be under pressure to find a way to ‘reelect’ itself; and will inevitably also wreck itself.

The ultimate problem with utilizing abominable and diabolical political maneuvers to stay in office is that they usually attract the angst of karma and end up (like Icarus and Haamann) being curses unto themselves. When people realize a government is set on ‘reelecting’ itself through capricious means they usually take every last step to see to it that government is booted out. To this end the UPP’s actions may not only fire up every last ABLP sympathizer; but may equally turn off independent voters as well as their own marginal sympathizers. God doesn’t like ugly; neither do decent folks.

Necessary comeuppance in their governance game and/or adroit elections timing were the most worthy choices for the UPP. There would have been no need to resort to unseemly measures to stay in office- and of course there’d be no current embarrassing spectacle. Still at the core what we are witnessing is manifestation of the historical mix up between roles of party versus government in power retention politics. To be sure this problem has been perennial in Caribbean society. The variance this time is the moral compass of UPP principals and their level of desperation.

(Postscript: Part III will purse suggested fixes for challenges of reelection politics in Caribbean society).

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.

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13 Comments In This Article   

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Fool lose his Cool

#13 Sidekick » 2014-04-29 17:30

So you are hateful of the notion that Edward is speaking of a continuum that shows the UPP evil but uses A&B as a case study without being able to show how far down the continuum has the country's political parties have gone? I see. So comparative analysis of moral impropriety is wrong? Really? Only independent evaluation is right in the context of proving that the COUNTRY's UPP has gone way off the mark? If Part I and II are flourishingly flawed are you saying that you are looking forward for more jaundice solutions to politically motivated scholarship? Serious? Edward's article represents a masterful blending of paid mind and hired pen. Just like the pursuit of justice is used for political embar**ment, so too is Edwards' invention used for political take down. He worked or still works for the ALP what do you expect? The piper is overpowering those that pay him because of a clear conscience and un-muddy forehead? LOL... Your sight is perfectly asleep man... Now go wash your face and face your inner voice... Do you even have a conscience? You killing for Edward but not getting paid...Let the man work for his pretty pennies...
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Sidekick

@Price Over Principle

#12 None So Blind » 2014-04-28 08:03

It’s now 2019. To improve chances of retaining office ABLP decides to find a way to keep UPP supports off the voters register. According to your thinking whoever calls them out on this wrong must say: “while this is wrong; even diabolical, let’s not forget the UPP in 2014 also targeted ABLP supports and took them off the register.”
I am putting it to you undemocratic behavior is not comparatively wrong; it’s INDEPENDENTLY wrong- ANY DAY, ANYWHERE!!
Comparative analysis of wrongdoing not only rationalizes the next wrong; but escalates it. The unethical becomes immoral, and the abominable diabolical. Eye for eye benchmarking keeps people enslaved to party color while the nation goes to hell in a straw basket.
But I’m not surprised at your mentality. Still I’d say this: Any mind that dwells on frivolities of hand paid/paid hand; tenman/twentyman has no right in a serious discussion about the progress on A&B. You’re better off at the beach or with marbles. Now run off and play my friend. Goodbye.
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None So Blind

Paid Hand or Hand Paid

#11 PRICE OVER PRINCIPLE » 2014-04-27 03:55

Edwards argues that there's a continuum. He says that the UPP has gone further up the latter of reelection abuse. Yet he does not say what's his benchmark for making that claim. Has the UPP gone further than the sins of the ALP? Where precisely on this continuum did the ALP go? Degrees do not change the structure of the abuse. If the ALP MESSED UP, share that with me so that I can better appreciate the TOTAL picture of abuse taking place in Antigua. It may add to my further appreciation of possible correctives. Don't tell me the UPP went further than most in the SIDS GENERALLY. SHARE COMPARATIVE HOW FAR FROM THE ALP DID THE UPP GO?
WE HAVE THE MISCHIEF OF PAID HAND DOING BUSIINESS WITH THE LITERACY OF A HAND PAID. Who does Edwards want to fool with his schdollary? Tenman or twentyman? Lol!
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PRICE OVER PRINCIPLE

Mischief or Literacy

#10 tenman » 2014-04-23 22:18

Mischief or Literacy , I would say illiteracy and bitterness. We all know the ALP has sinned. Recall independent observers labeling the 1999 election though free, not fair. Its like these guys need for it to be repeatedly said so they can feel better. PLM also sinned but I never hear them demanding that this be also mentioned

..
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tenman

@Uncommonsense

#9 Mischief or Literacy » 2014-04-23 16:50

If one is deliberately mischievous such person is typically blinded by that mischief.
From what I get Dr. Edwards’ established a theoretical framework for thinking about reelection behaviors by governments. His important observations are: a dysfunctional continuum ranging from unethical to diabolical; All Carib govts guilty of violations to varying degrees (never excluded ALP); Carib people don’t distinguish between party and govt in reelection politics; most Carib govts stay within unethical and immoral sectors of the continuum; how far a govt goes along the continuum is determined by democratic maturity of office holders and level of desperation to stay in office; - both are often correlated.
Author’s notes are clear. His intention is to illustrate how PRESENT standoff reflects the theoretical framework. This he did most thoroughly in yesterday’s column. If the present standoff (with combined constitutional issues, court referrals, elections derailment) was previously replicated by an ALP govt’s reelection behavior only then has author failed to show balance. There is no parallel. This elections standoff caused by UPP is unprecedented! The article was a scholarly treatment of our present unrivaled reality. Eagerly look forward to part 3 so we can all play a part in ensuring these unpleasant excesses never ever reoccur.
If the problem is literacy this should help; but if its mischief, nothing will- perhaps God.
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Mischief or Literacy

@ Perplexed

#8 UncommonSense » 2014-04-23 09:30

Serious? But you are not reading what Dr. Edwards says are you? The man promises and has already delivered two installments. First, he describes SIDS' abuse of re-electioneering. Second, makes the Case that the UPP has crossed the line. Third, he will offer some solutions.

Where has he or did he even TRY to render a BALANCING ACT of show that both the ALP and the UPP has indeed crossed the line and therefore, the WHOLE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE in Antigua and Barbuda needs to be REVAMP?
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UncommonSense

RE: Reelection Politics and Caribbean Society - Part II Has Spencer’s Regime Crossed the Line

#7 Perplexed » 2014-04-22 15:09

You guys are something else, Why not ask the man if there is a part III focusing on the opposition before you all accuse him of wrong doing. You cannot write everything one time on this type of medium. This is not a book, you cannot get the full story in a piece such as this or you guys would complain its too long. Check the comments on Mr. Pomphey's pieces.
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Perplexed

The Whole Truth--So Help Me God!

#6 FEARLESS » 2014-04-22 12:51

Edwards gone deep-seat fishing in shallow waters. What a perfectly spoken SELECTIVE TRUTH. I want the WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE ENTIRE TRUTH.

Edwards, before you provide a handful of solutions, you need to explore MORE COMPREHENSIVELY, the nature of the BEAST.

Educate us on THE ABUSIVE STRATEGIES THAT ALP USED IN THE PAST TO GAIN RE-ELECTION ADVANTAGE.

With that other side REVEALED, we will be more receptive and better prepared to apply your much anticipated solutions. As long as you Hide the ALP DECEPTIONS and Highlight the UPP ABUSES, you are guilty of seeing through a clear glass darkly...lol...

I dare you to the entire truth to power hungry UPP and power Thirsty ALP... Can you? Me thinks you will not get paid or contracts if you do...lol
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FEARLESS

More Balance Please! II

#5 Cecil Williams » 2014-04-22 09:46

I'd like to see how Edwards uses this exact framework to show how the ALP in the past has indeed used State Resources to Reelect itself. There's ample evidence that it has. This does not mean that two wrongs makes a right. But it does suggest that the current abuses are part of a LONGER CONTINUM that began with the ALP and has been perfected by the UPP.

The real issue then is that the people of A&B have no consistent public morality. They tolerate and accept this level of abuse and corruption from both political sides for favors, meager resources and positions.

Therefore, Edward should be more about comparing and contrasting HOW BOTH THE ALP AND UPP have abused the system to further political fortunes. HAVING DISAGNOSED THE CASE FOR BOTH PARTIES, then Edward could offer sustainable solutions for the way forward.

Right now, he is SPEAKING A ONE-SIDED TRUTH WHICH WILL BE SEEN AS A WHOLISTIC LIE... Can we expect "MORE" from Edward or is his agenda for truth only leaning in ONE DIRECTION. His decision to shine the light is one direction is appearing to be as DARK AS 1OOO MIDNIGHTS!
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Cecil Williams

More Balance Please! I

#4 Cecil Williams » 2014-04-22 09:38

There's no question that Edwards has captured the true nature of the UPP's strategy re: reelection politics. That the UPP has abused the process for fear of losing couldn't be more clearly defined.

The ALP itself, although it has countered this strategy, is failing to capture the imagination of the people. If it wins, it will do so, by default. The ALP does not have an inspiring message of hope nor a REAL PLAN of ACTION to rescue or rebuild the country. Though most are against the government very few really readily embrace the ALP.
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Cecil Williams

Pastor Hat

#3 scrawl » 2014-04-22 09:36

Mr. Pastor can you please take off your political hat and put on your pastor hat to answer this question for me.

who is Hammann of Bible fame?

have never read of him in the Bible. or is it the Trinidad bible?
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scrawl

Reelection Politics

#2 Reelection Politics » 2014-04-22 08:27

Reelection Politics and Caribbean Society - Part II Has Spencer’s Regime Crossed the Line

The title of this article should be Has our Caribbean Journalist Cross the line.

I would love it if your article would have covered the history of politics in Antigua and Barbuda and not just place all the dysfunctional on the UPP. One would think that you have an Agenda. I believe you do. While you might be true about your assertions you fail to bring balance to your accounting of history by purposefully or conveniently leaving out the genesis of these alleged diabolical conduct. I would say that I see your color and understand your intent with this article.

It is diabolical and God doesn’t like ugly; neither do decent folks.
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Reelection Politics

Old Sage

#1 Truer Words Not Spok » 2014-04-22 08:26

Always admire the clear incisive words of this writer and the courageous way he speaks truth to power. This is commentary at its best; educating and liberating! No longer must people be sycophants of political color at the expense of the nation’s interests. Only hope the right people read this article. Like the writer said “high time politicians understand love of self, love for office, and love of power are the least qualifying characteristics for successful performance.” Truer words have not been spoken.
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Truer Words Not Spok

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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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