Last update: 07-Dec-2013 3:12 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Crossing of the Floor Act flawed, not thought-out, misconceived
I have listened to the arguments which have been advanced by the Speaker in declaring the seat of the Member for St Joseph vacant, and comment as follows:
1. Question: When a voter places his or her “X” on the ballot paper, is he or she voting for the individual candidate or is he or she voting for the political party, if any, alongside the name of such candidate?
Answer: It could be either one or the other or both.
Conclusion: One cannot be entirely certain. It should be noted that the appearance of names of political parties on ballot papers is intended to assist the voter in making his or her selection.
2. Question: When a declaration of a winner of the voting is made by the Returning Officer, whom does he or she declare as the winner—the individual candidate or the political party against the name of the winner?
Answer: The individual candidate.
3. Question: Of even more fundamental to the issue at hand is the following: Once elected, is the winner of the voting a representative of the constituency or is he or she a delegate of a political party, (any political party)?
Answer: He or she is, first and foremost, a representative of the constituency and certainly not a delegate of a political party and thus being required to follow blindly the dictates of such political party and its “whip.”
Conclusion: Notwithstanding the absence of Standing Orders etc, as required by Section 49, I am of the view that the entire Crossing The Floor Act to be (a) flawed fundamentally, (b) misconceived, (c) undemocratic, (d) not in keeping with the generally accepted best principles of representative government, and (e) in general, not properly thought-out.
The fact that this provision of the Constitution was never enforced even by its “founders,” should dictate caution in attempting its implementation.
Errol OC Cupid
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