Last update: 11-Dec-2013 1:39 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
PM: Let the people decide on aldermen
The Government will be tabling legislation immediately to introduce a new system for the election of aldermen in local government bodies in time for the October 21 local government elections. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday announced the introduction of the system of proportional representation for the election of aldermen, which she described as ground-breaking legislation.
The legislation will be taken to the House of Representatives when Parliament reconvenes on September 6 and then to the Upper House on September 10. Speaking at the post-Cabinet media conference yesterday, she said: “This is a unique and attractive idea that I wish to introduce in our local government elections. “It will represent a historic foray into the virgin territory of proportional representation which many feel is an idea whose time has come.”
Under the new system, councillors will continue to be elected in the same way they are now elected under the first past-the-post Westminster style system, but aldermen will be elected by the population, she said. “The current method for choosing aldermen will be abolished. Every vote will now count,” the PM said. “The time has come to have the aldermen elected by the population and not selected by the councillors after an election.
“Our examples over the years have shown us that this process can be manipulated and controlled by political deal-making and political indiscipline to the detriment of the population, who have no say in what the councillors may want to do after they have been elected.”
The PM said all councils will have their complement of aldermen increased to four to ensure there is no inequality between councils where aldermen are concerned.
Further, the recommendations of the Elections and Boundaries Commission for the seat distribution and boundaries in existing councils will be implemented. Asked if the Opposition was consulted about the introduction of proportional representation legislation, the PM said the bill will not need a special majority.
She said with the introduction of a mixed system of election using the first past-the-post system for existing electoral districts and a system of proportional representation for the election of aldermen, the Government is seeking to expand the electoral process in local government. “The expansion will ensure that every vote will count in every district, because those votes will be used to calculate the allocation of the seats of aldermen,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“Even if a single party were to win all of the seats on the first past-the-post system, there will more than likely be an allocation of at least one alderman to another party, which will ensure that another political voice would sit on such a council.” The proposed aldermen will be known by electorate up front because all political parties will be required to provide a list of their names, she said. She said proportional representation legislation was proposed by the Principles of Fairness Group.
Persad-Bissessar said the Municipal Corporations Act is more than 20 years old and there is a pressing need for local government reform. She said the concept of proportional representation has been advocated as a fairer and stronger system for many years now. Urging all parties to support this historical change, the PM said she looks forward to the support of all parties in the House for the passage of the legislation.
Persad-Bissessar said legislation for term limits for prime ministers and the rights to recall MPs are also in the making.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.